Saturday, January 07, 2006

Seeking Thinking

Again, from The Power of Their Ideas:

If it's thinking that we're seeking, then it's thinking we must get to observe, and this requires seeing children over time. It means passing them in the hall before and after we have taught them, knowing their other teachers well, seeing them in different settings and guises and thus developing a broader repertoire of ways to approach them. This close knowledge helps us demand more of them; we can be tougher without being insensitive and humiliating. It also means we know their moods and styles - whom to touch in a comforting way and whom to offer distance and space in times of stress. It means that every adult in the school feels responsible for every kid and has insights that when shared can open up a seemingly intractable situation to new possibilities.

As I read this I thought of two things immediately. First, ever since we've bumped up enrollment (and added more lockers), I've felt that the hallways have gotten too crowded. I know they were crowded before, but it seems like we passed some kind of acceptable threshold where it was workable, and now it's not. I think it's probably rather hard to have conversations with students in the halls during passing time. Second, with the amazing amount of new staff we've added - as well as increasing staff a little bit - I really feel like we don't know each other nearly as well as we used to. While there are some positives to that - it gives us a chance to build a new community among the staff - I don't think that's happened yet. And if the passage above is correct - that we need to know their other teachers well to make the best possible learning environment for them - I think we've got problems.

Anybody else feel these same two things?


  1. I find myself smiling at, but not talking with, students and staff in the hallway. In part because the halls are crowded but more because the hallways are noisy. Are there plans to put acoustic tiles to tone down the noise level?

  2. I agree-but it's the effort you put into it and time you have for it as well. There's that word again-TIME. I think it's imperative that we get to know each other better, but how is the question. We have such an amazing staff-I truly beleive that and feel privileged to be a part of it-but I agree-we need to extend our ties more beyond our departments. As with students, we can foster a classroom environment that allows us to get to know studnets at a personal level. Thsi is one of my priorities when it comes to teaching. Kids don't respect you if they don't see you trying, and they see through it.

  3. Jess, you are so right about students seeing through you. I am amazed at how many kids just stop in to talk, even after just meeting them in 2 class periods. They must feel a sincere interest from me, which I am thankful for. I know that this attribute is so strong at AHS. I continually see and hear "visiting" with students about their life, their loves, their parents, and of course school. I love our department for this overall community.

    The halls should be lighter right after 6th hour because I swear, they are all in the English department!