Teaching since Fall 2001 – 3rd year in 2nd grade

An instructional Technology Specialist from our district tweeted here, asking how much we agreed with the post 10 Things in School that should be obsolete. I couldn’t just respond in a tweet.

1. Computer Labs – I agree instead of upgrading labs we should be switching to laptops, tablets, and other portable technology. I think our district is doing a good job with this. New PolyConnect Computer Lab

2.  Learning in prescribed spaces.  Agreed. I like taking the kids out to our garden to work when possible. We are required to be able to see kids at all times. So I can’t have kids in the pod hallway unless I’m standing where I can see the room and the hall.

English: Social Studies classroom at Port Char...

3. TEACHER-CENTERED CLASSROOM – Agreed. I’m playing around with different classroom set ups for my room. I’ve pretty much decided to set up the desks so they are NOT centered on the Promethean board. I want to use the Daily 5 method. Teacher centered lessons are only 5 to 10 minutes at a time. Having the kids on the carpet, will help me keep from falling into old habits.

4. ISOLATED CLASSROOMS – Disagree with part of this. Yes teachers need to collaborate but the kids come first.  My school was built open concept in 1966. It was only a few years ago that we got our walls and doors. Before that the pods were unbearably noisy at times. Kids with ADHD, on the Autism Spectrum, and with various LD’s had a very hard time concentrating. Especially when one of my neighbors was a Spanish BIL teacher. Somehow it was harder to tune out the Spanish than English, maybe her voice just carried more. The kids simply could not focus. I remember a kid with ADHD telling me – Ms. Herbert my brain can’t figure out if it is supposed to be listening to you or Mrs. D. I know I’m supposed to listen to you but my brain keeps switching back and forth.  I have LD’s, and have experienced the same thing. One day last year, a tutor was working with kids in the hall. My door was open. I was supposed to be typing a comment from one of the students into a document, instead I typed what the tutor was saying. Her voice just over loaded my brain. (If I had been handwriting dollars to donuts I would have written the words in mirror image there were just to many distractions)

There are other ways for a teacher to connect with other teachers. I’ve been involved with online teaching community since the only options were BB and listservs. Now my district had a hash tag and I get tons of good ideas just following that twitter feed. If I need more information I tweet back or sometimes e-mail them.  Teachers are welcome in my room at any time.  Just please close the door behind you to keep the noise level down.

5. Departmental Organization. Yes teachers need to see the connections, so we can help our students build links between different types of knowledge.

6. School corridors – We have breeze ways between the pods – every pod opens into a central garden.  The halls in our pods tend to be used as a 5th classroom with various aids, tutors, and specialists.  Only the newest wing has a real corridor – and there are usually groups of kids with an adult working there.

7. Traditional Libraries – Agreed Our campus is heading that direction, but having growing pains as we figure it out. Kids at the library

8. Dark indoor gyms – Why not have PE outside most of the time. Kids need sunshine and fresh air. They shouldn’t be fussing that they NEEEEEED their jacket because the gym is cold.

9.  INSTITUTIONAL FOOD SERVICE. Lets make the food better first.   Hardly any fruit or veg (I don’t care what congress says ketchup and pizza sauce are NOT vegetables), frozen fried junk, pink slime.  I haven’t eaten the school lunches in years – but when I did I was often sick for days after because of the low quality. For some of my kids this and 2 bagged lunches over the weekend from Lunches of Love are the only food they get. We have to make it better.  If you walk through our cafeteria it tends to be being used all the time. 7 – 7:45 breakfast, 8 – 10 small groups, tutoring, PT and OT sessions, mentors with kids. 10 – 1 Lunch 1 – 2:30 small groups, tutoring, PT and OT sessions, mentors with kids. After school various clubs.

10 Large bathrooms – in absolute and complete agreement. The school I student taught in had 2 restrooms in EACH classroom. I believe the plumbing was part of a WPA project.  It was fantastic. You never had to interrupt learning for a group bathroom break. Especially good if you were in semi lockdown.  Several times last year we were in semi lock down due to tornadoes/hail/lightening. Our kids couldn’t go to our large bathrooms because they are outside and the set nearest my room were flooded with 3 – 5 inches of water. (On those days what corridors we have and the cafeteria were filled with classes from the portables.)

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Comments on: "Response to 10 Things in School That Should Be Obsolete" (2)

  1. I made my why here through reading the original article you are referencing. For reference, I have been teaching for 13 years and currently teach at the lab school for the University of Florida. We are moving into a new building this Fall designed to incorporate many of the items on the original list of 10. I thought reading your arguments would be worthwhile. I agree with some of what you are saying. Here is my pushback on two pieces.

    1. Learning in Prescribed Places. I think that everyone is misreading what this means. Most of the comments on the original blog, and your comments here, focus on doing math outside, using a garden for science, etc. I don’t think that is necessarily what the author is talking about. If you look at the picture included, it doesn’t show kids not in a classroom, it shows a classroom that is not student-desk focused. I think this is the bigger piece. Most kids in most classrooms in the US spend their entire day sitting in one desk next to the same few students. Some teachers use cooperative learning, but many still require most learning to be done on your own in this one space. A better, more effective option is to allow flexibility in the classroom. Of course there still needs to be desk space for each student at some point – there are times when everyone needs to be at a desk (or table). But active classrooms have students using the whole space more effectively – and the space is not just one big desk grid.

    2. Isolated Classrooms. This is HUGE for me. When you think about it, education is one of the only professions that isolates its professionals from one another while they are practicing their craft. Going to PD together or stopping by each other’s rooms for chats or meetings doesn’t change this – we are still isolated while we teach. BUT, the 1960’s answer of build cheap buildings with no walls was not the answer. Your response to this, shows what happened. You guys had an open-school but you were still isolated. There was no paradigm or pedagogical switch in the way we do school, so teachers simply went about sub-dividing the open space into isolated units that were less effective because of everyone else’s noise. Instead, what needs to happen is buildings need to be built with various sized spaces so that teachers work together for the entire day with a group of students. Our new building has 132 fourth and fifth graders together in a Learning Community. Our space includes 5 “Learning Studios” big enough for whole group instruction of 25 students, 1 medium-sized space big enough for 12-15 students at tables or 20 or so on the floor (for a mini-lesson), 2 small group rooms, a teacher planning/prep area, and a large commons area that is naturally divided by the other rooms (so it isn’t just one big open pit area). In a space like this, we can’t all just stay in one place and teach our group of kids all day. We have to mix around and integrate with each other. it is going to be hard, but in the end, I think it will be better for us as teachers to see each other teach and that will be better for the kids. BTW the space is full of windows so you can see through everything. This will allow us to see each other and see students at all times. We recognize we are going to have to help some students who will be distracted by the fact that they can see so much going on at once. But I dont’ think we should build our buildings around those students. They are going to be distracted by anything, no matter what we do.

    Just my thoughts. 🙂

  2. […] Response to 10 Things in School That Should Be Obsolete (kherbert.wordpress.com) […]

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