Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Let's Play!

Teaching in a school where the population is very transient, we are always getting new students that join our learning community. I overheard a quick conversation between a new student and a current student that set my mind to thinking. Fridays have been designated as test prep days for our school. In fact, school-wide we have been giving practice tests throughout the year. On Friday, the students were taking one of these practice tests. The new student looked at one of the other students and said, "You know Mrs. Ramsay loves these test days. All she has to do is sit behind her desk while we do all the work." The other student immediately jumped in, "NO, she doesn't. Mrs Ramsay wants to play with us and not do her boring teacher work." Wow, out of the mouths of babes. This is not something that I had ever verbalized or thought about  in these terms, but it is the absolute truth.

Now before people get all upset by the kids talking about us playing (including a past version of  my present day self), I want to stress how much rigorous work my students do daily. In fact,  my students often comment on how we get more done before 9:00 am than most classes get done all day. At the end of the school day, they are always amazed that it's time to go home because they have been so engrossed in their meaningful work, they've lost track of time. It frustrates them when their collaborative projects, small group time, or peer work is interrupted.

Hearing this student's perspective of what I do everyday in the classroom makes me smile. These fifth graders have picked up on something that I think many teachers are missing out on. We should be someone who wants to participate in the activities and projects along side them, not in front of them. Our time should be spent with them, not behind a desk. Play also denotes someone who is having fun, and we should have a lot of fun in our classrooms. If we're not, we must doing something wrong.

I'm so glad that I overheard this conversation. It reeinforced to me the importance of spending time listening, guiding, and interacting with my students. So as you enter your classroom, get out from behind your desk and out of the front of the classroom. Sit down with your students and participate in their learning discussions. Do those activities that you spent so much time planning and implementing with your students. You (and your students) may find a new perspective on your role in the classroom.

I can't wait for tomorrow so that we can PLAY some more. Anybody want to join us?

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