Monday, August 20, 2012

The Learning Landscape: Fertile Ground for Growing

Today I will meet my new class of second graders, and we will begin our teaching and learning journey together for the 2012-2013 school year.  I have to say a special thank you to my new principal, Betsy Bell, and my colleagues at Cherokee Bend for inviting me to be a part of such a special place....and for supporting me in every way possible as I prepared over the summer for this school year to begin. Words don't do my excitement justice!  I'd also like to thank my friends and colleagues across Birmingham and across the nation and world for being my giant professional learning community.  My life and my teaching are enriched and strengthened by all of you every single day.  Happy New School Year to you all!

Below you'll find pictures of my new classroom.  After the initial classroom setup, I couldn't just be satisfied and walk away.  I was constantly thinking about how this space would support the learners in my care. Somehow, I managed to spend all summer stopping by to add the perfect book, to re-arrange the furniture (I only re-arranged four times), check the color scheme, make lists for the Office Depot and Dollar Store trips, and make sure my beliefs about teaching and learning were evident the minute anyone entered the classroom.  This is what I want:
1.  I want this classroom to build on each child's intrinsic motivation.  I can't motivate my students to want to read, write, problem solve, talk, think, learn....but I can create an environment that invites and encourages those kinds of behaviors.

2.  I want this classroom to be one where the students do the thinking and problem solving.  They are the ones who should be doing the hard work.  It is my job to make our room a place where I facilitate their talk and their thinking and learning.  My job is to "put myself out of a job."

3.  I want this classroom to support student academic AND social growth.  If the room could talk, it would say, "Come....join me on the cozy rug to have conversation."  or "Let's problem solve together at the table or listen in on the writing conference Miss Corgill is having."  or "Welcome to OUR room.  It's a place that  recognizes that the head and the heart are in one body and that every person in this room is valued and important."

4.  I want this classroom be filled with accessible materials and to be a place where students can apprentice themselves to the authors and scientists and mathematicians that line the shelves of the classroom.  I want it to be a place where each child says, "I can do that!  I can be that!  I can solve that!"

5.  Finally, I want this room to be a place that honors our school wide norms.  Each day, we will inhabit this space and think in this space and learn in this space because:  It's a place where we can and will be safe.  It's a place where we can and will value ourself and others.  And finally, it's a place where we all can and will do our best.

It is my hope that this classroom brings happiness to the learners that will grow here this year.  A very happy teacher will be waiting at the door!


  1. Your room is absolutely gorgeous! It definitely sends the message, "We have important work to do, and we are going to do it together." Hope you have a terrific first day! Those kids and teachers are blessed to have you! I know you will be a blessing to those kids, to their families and to your colleagues! Have fun!

  2. Your room looks like you - inviting, warm, and has space for your student's learning. Best wishes for a wonderful year! (Like your new blog format!)

  3. Ann Marie,

    I just *LOVE* your classroom!!! What lucky students you have - to have such a passionate teacher... and to be surrounded by so many great books all day.

    Have a great year!


  4. Mission accomplished.

    That is all.

  5. I found your website the other day and after reading a handful of posts, thought I would say thank you for all the great content. Keep it coming! I will try to stop by here more often.

  6. Just saw a picture of you on the Stenhouse blog. Just got around to finishing our self portraits this year:) Hope you are having a wonderful, well deserved year. I am in love with those 7 ginormous book shelves in your classroom. Stop by my blog to see our self portraits.
    Jonelle Bell
    A Place Called Kindergarten

  7. I’m really inspired every time I’m reading your blog – that’s a really cool resource in fact! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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