So where does a teacher begin the process of changing practice? How does she let go of doing the same routine day after day? How does she stay outside the effects of the media? How does she reach students?

As teachers we have an opportunity to make a significant impact right now if we choose. To start, we must relinquish control from the front of the room. Unless we are willing to let go of this delivery mode of teaching, we will not be able to meet today’s students on their terms. They simply are not receptive to what we have to say, certainly not for the entire day. We need to meet them halfway—perhaps more than halfway—if we expect to become their teachers.

At the same time, we must not succumb to the electronic media blitz. If we do, we too will become conduits for the contents of others, of Big Brother, if you will. We will become clay in the hands of the media conglomerates, in conjunction with Disney’s manipulation of princesses and faeries in the lives of little girls, and more recently, Disney XD, a brand aimed at boys from ages six to fourteen.

Already, we’ve lost the allegiance of children. We feel it every day, as we scramble to reel them in, to win their attention, to engage their minds. The more we ratchet up our traditional ways, the less connected they become. Reaching them, however, remains the challenge for us, more so than coping with state and federal testing or overloaded curriculums, which are also obstacles. Unless we diversify our teaching and focus on creating learning opportunities, we will simply teach to deaf ears. Children’s brains are wired by their upbringing. Had they grown up learning to do chores, to postpone gratification, and to engage in free play, they would be better suited to learn as we did.

For more of these ideas, purchase Teaching from the Middle of the Room: Inviting Students to Learn (Stetson Press, 2010) from Amazon.