What does learning look like?

ClassroomA while ago, I created this poster “A Tale of Two Classrooms.”  It wasn’t meant as a statement of “Classroom B is best.”  It wasn’t even meant as a statement of “Classroom A is awful.”  It was meant as a representation of Classroom A and B.  I know Classroom A and B quite well.  Both of them are mine.  The teacher I was trained to be in college?  It was Classroom A.  I wanted all of my kids to be the same, so my assignments would work for them all.  I piled on work, did all the talking, and was the sole enforcer of rules.  I was in charge of learning.  Years passed, and my teaching evolved.  I began to focus on building  inquiry, problem solving, embedding technology, and getting kids thinking and collaborating.  It changed me.  I became more like Classroom B.

I look back on what I used to do and it was what worked for me at the time.  But overtime, I changed.  I had to deal with pressures from colleagues who thought I should be using my textbooks more, from parents who wondered why more “graded papers” weren’t coming home.  I’ve had to defend that an authentic project is more rigorous than a packet of papers.  Have I got it right? Of course not.  We’re never finished changing.  Learning is a journey.  Our kids change. The world changes.  We change as teachers.  This morning, I made a revised version of Classroom A versus Classroom B.  As someone pointed out, it’s not a black and white issue.  There is so much grey and so much individual choice.  I’m not saying A or B is better for everyone. I’m saying you’ve gotta think and really understand what you want learning to look like in your classroom.  Then, you’ve gotta work to carry that out.  Every. Single. Day.  Even when it’s exhausting.  Even when it goes against the “norm” of what’s always been done.  We should all aim for Classroom C, the one that works for our situation, our kids, and our schools.  Make a list of what you want learning to look like.  A mission statement.  A scribbled Post-it note. Define YOUR classroom.  The one where learning is optimal and kids are inspired. That one?  It’s the best.

What Does Learning Look Like?

  1. I love your new poster! I think as we grow as educators, we learn what works best for students and for teachers. Like you said, there is no black and white – there are times when the teacher must be the sole “speaker” and give information, there are times when students guide what happens in the classroom. We have to provide a good mix and keep our students’ best interests in mind.

    Thank you for creating great posters and offering such great perspective!

    The Middle School Mouth

  2. I enjoy reading your professional reflections. We are no longer teachers we are facilitators to activate thinking. I agree with you we should all aim at classroom C and learn with our students and colleagues. I continue to learn on how to share students’ thinking and make it transparent to parents.

  3. Just found this referenced through another site. It resonates true – just gotta make it happen. The talk of education seems to be shifting this way – but I’ve not felt enough proof around me yet. I’m starting a blog – appreciate the inspiration from your entire site.

    • Thanks, Dan. You will be so glad that you started a blog. It defnitely pushes my thinking and reflecting. I agree– the talk has shifted, but have all the actions? I don’t think so. This is why it still feels “far from the norm” to teach in a new way. Hopeful things will continue shifting! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. I’m so glad you’re back!! I missed your inspiration and posters! I know you’ve been back posting for a while, but I’m just catching up…I finally posted for the first time in 9 months…I mentioned your blog as one I’m so glad to be reading!
    Thanks, Nancy
    The Apple Basket Teacher

  5. Great article. I sure hope I fall on the right hand side of the chalkboard in the above article. I try everyday to be a risk taker and try to make school a fun place to learn cool things.

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