This is the first of three posts on the ideal classroom

In my ideal classroom, my co-teachers and I create a space with its own story and aura. We might have a few desks and chairs but we also have couches, upholstered chairs, area rugs, plants, curtains, and perhaps a teacher’s desk but set off to the side. Students’ fine art and stimulating ideas grace the walls. Music plays at in-between times. There is no litter.

Students arrive expecting the unexpected, but certain they will learn. Everyone greets each other by name and with a smile. Learning begins the moment we enter and carries on as we leave. There are no bells, and no public address announcements.

As teachers, we evoke deep respect and treat students as honored guests. We accept them as they are and welcome them into to a safe learning place. We teach them to take breaths to center themselves. We help them to bring focus to their work. We teach without stress. We enjoy what we are doing. We enjoy each and every one of our students.

We ask more questions and give fewer answers. We create conversations using reason, evidence, and temperance. We invoke empathy, encourage different viewpoints, and expect rigor. We believe each student can and will learn and do anything to make it happen.

We concentrate on what they do well, and nurture their weaknesses through their strengths to help them gain confidence and thrive. We value thinking and take time to give students’ brains opportunities to ponder, explore, and consider. We value the struggle needed to develop worthwhile insights.

We work. Productive, useful, thoughtful, attentive, honest, and persistent work. Purpose is evident everywhere. Rigor means striving without fear of judgment. We provide frequent and consistent feedback during the learning process. We transform failures into successes. Teaching and learning become everyone’s business. Students learn to teach themselves.

Draw a line down the center of a piece of paper. On the left, list which of theses ideals you do in your classroom. On the right, list what you’d like to try.



For more on this crucial issue see Chapter 20 “Imagine the Ideal” in Teaching from the Middle of the Room: Inviting Students to Learn from Amazon: