June 10, 2007

Self-Portrait Challenge- Environment: Classroom

This month’s SPC prompt is to show ourselves in our surroundings and to try and show how our environment influences our lives. I couldn’t imagine a place where I spend more time, a place that takes up more of my energy, or a place where I give more of myself than my classroom.

I illuminate my room with a set of three lamps; I have several sofas, a plant and a decent set of speakers, which at any given point are blasting anything from The Yeah Yeah Yeahs to a copy of the latest Linkin Park given to me by one of my students. I have spent time decorating my room to my specifications not only because I spend so much time there, and let’s face it who wants to spend more time than they have to under florescent lighting, but because I have tried to create a caring, open, and inspiring leaning environment as well. I want my classroom to be a place kids can come in and hang out, listen to music, chit chat and when it’s time to push themselves beyond what they thought was possible intellectually, artistically, and sometimes even emotionally.

In this room we have discussed the true nature of humanity, the role of artists in the face of societal conformity; we have explored poetry, music, visual media, and more. We have read several novels, a play, and a Diary of a Young Girl. We have talked about the effects of colonialization on the world, the idea of an eminent rise in fascism, as well as the beauty of poetry. We have worked with blogs, wiki spaces, podcasts. We have created movies, slideshows and artistic photography.

I have literally taken everything I find important, beautiful and meaningful in my life and tried to share it with my kids. People say that teaching is a calling; I don’t know anything about that. All I do know is that there is no single other way I would rather spend my time that the way I do everyday in this room. You can have your office jobs, but put me in a room with a group of young minds and let me try and prove to them that the world is good and beautiful, and that we all have something to contribute. Let me work on their cynicisms and jaded worldviews; give me their boredom, their angst and apathy, and I will do my best to break down their ignorance piece by piece. Give me a group of students and let me teach them. It is what I do best.

People say that teachers have it made, with summers off and a short workday. What anyone who has never been in the classroom will never understand is that teaching is more than a job. It consumes your life. I stay up late nights thinking about classroom management issues, or why Susie has been despondent the last few days; I think of ways to try and motivate Billy to find something meaningful in the book we are reading, or I think of lesson plans that will have a lasting impact on my entire roster. Teaching does not begin at eight and end at three it is ongoing.

Here I am on a Sunday afternoon, all alone in my room blasting my music correcting finals. I asked the kids to write an essay about what they learned this year. The answers were enough to make me cry. If you want to know what the answers were, I suggest you get yourself into a classroom and teach a group of kids something about the world we live in and ask them yourself.


  1. wow...this is a great portrait of you in your teaching element.

    i am in love with the design of your classroom and how you have expressed yourself throughout the walls.

    your teaching style and philosophies remind me so much of my husband.

    you are changing lives on a daily basis. that is so huge...

    bless you.

  2. Your post made me proud to be a teacher...it really did. Thank you for this. I miss that I don't have a classroom to set up like yours--I am in and out of a different room on a different part of campus every semester and class session. I hope to get back in a more "permanent" one soon. Your students are fortunate to have such an inspired educator!

  3. I think this is awesome! It's cool that you know what a difference you make as a teacher.

    Also...is that a tattoo on your leg? It looks so cool!


  4. amen.
    teaching is amazing.
    there is no greater feeling of accomplishment.

  5. Your students are fortunate indeed.
    I hope my children are lucky enough to have teachers as passionate as you as they grow up.

  6. What a fantastic environment you've created there. That's awesome that you can do that.

  7. Anonymous3:43 AM

    I love this glimpse into your life. You are the kind of teacher I hope my kids get to experience during their time in school. One that opens them up to possibilities. Questioning everything.

    You rock.


  8. love this post.
    makes me a bit melancholy as i am leaving the profession of teaching for a year...

    i will be back to live vicariously through you.

  9. What a great and inspiring room to be in (and that facial hair is definitely working for you)!

  10. wow. i wish i'd had a teacher like you. very inspiring!

  11. Great post. You sum up how I feel when I actually think about what my teaching means to me. Far more eloquently though.....mine usually side tracks into something to do with shoes.....

  12. what a phenomenal, passionate post.

    thank you for the gift of this post, and the gift of yourself for this world.

    bright blessings,

  13. Wonderful. That post did me such good. Makes me want to be a teacher. :)