Journal entry:

I step into my first classroom, Room 22, diagonally across from the office. The hanging incandescent-globe lights are off and the room is darkened, as its tan shades are pulled halfway on the tall, multi-paned windows. Desks and chairs are aligned perfectly in rows and columns and face my desk and the blackboard. On my desk sets a new green blotter, a planbook, a class register, a box of Dittos, a box of paperclips, a stapler, two boxes of white chalk, a new eraser and two piles of new textbooks. In the closet behind the desk are sets of older texts, workbooks, miscellaneous texts, and yellow lined-paper full and half-size. The room is clean; these janitors must be good.

I wonder, what will it feel like when my first students walk in next Tuesday? What will it feel like to be at the front of my own room? What will I say? How will students react to this first-year teacher?

That was over forty years ago. Yet, imagine we were Rip Van Winkle and awoke from a one-hundred-year slumber to an unrecognizable world––except for when we stepped into classrooms! The classrooms would have desks in rows and the teacher’s desk in front of a whiteboard (which may be still black or green); Venetian blinds perhaps in place of shades on the windows; more than likely, false ceilings with recessed fluorescent lighting; and moveable desks. Rip Van Winkle would immediately know where he was, just as we would immediately recall the regularity of our classrooms. We flash back to the familiar, perhaps remembering where we sat (as I do in Miss Karasack’s fourth grade and Miss Mason’s sixth). We liked returning to the same seat, our home in the classroom.

Praise for Teaching from the Middle of the Room: “I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your book…I would like to use a couple of quotes from your book on Opening Day, as I think they get at the heart of why we engage in continuous learning. ~Joanne Hennessy, Professional Development Coordinator, Lexington Public Schools, Lexington MA

For more specific ideas about teaching see Teaching from the Middle of the Room: Inviting students to Learn from Amazon: