This past weekend was the University of Montevallo's annual homecoming, College Night. For College Night, students break into two teams, gold and purple. Each side spends three to four weeks writing and producing an original musical. Everything is done by students: costuming, musical compositions, choreography, set design/building, lighting. The two sides perform, amidst each side's chanting and cheering and it's scored by a panel of judges. A tradition like none other in the United States, it began in 1919 and is a considered a local legacy by the Library of Congress.
It's obvious, to even a casual observer, that the University of Montevallo values those traits. As a teacher I couldn't help but wonder how we demonstrate what we value within our classrooms? What does a casual observer see when he/she walks into our learning space? Are students sitting in quiet rows working on test-prep? Are learners sitting all over the space, collaborating in face-to-face and digital formats? Are they building and making things? Are they applying their learning in meaningful ways? Is everything focused towards a score on a standardized test, or are students pushed to demonstrate mastery on authentic problems? Where we invest our time and energy shows what we value.
I think whether we make conscious decisions or not, what we value as an educator can be seen with our students in our learning spaces. Sometimes, we need to take a look in as an outsider to see if what we value is truly what is being manifested in our classrooms. If someone who didn't know you came into your classroom, what would they see?
Let's take these ideas and build the best learning experiences possible for our students.