Classroom visit

May 15, 2006

This past week I had the opportunity to visit my sister’s elementary school. Just for clarification, she is the principal. This afforded me a little different perspective of the visit, and I came away very impressed with the quality of what I saw happening in the classroom and the among the students and faculty. This is a year-round school located in central California. My sister shared with me what was happening as we toured the classrooms and observed teachers in action. For a college professor this was an eye-opening experience. All of my children are grown and gone. I see the products of our educational system and while many in our society seem to be able to find much fault with the educational system, I find much success. Granted, I am at the top of the heap receiving the best that high schools have to offer and not what doesn’t make it through. If I was managing a business where we had high turnover of high school dropouts I might have an entirely different perspective. Back to my visit. . .

As I watched kindergardeners practicing words and sentences I kept reminding myself that when I entered first grade I still couldn’t count past 10. Now these kindergardeners are expected to be readers by the end of that first year of half-days. In a society where English may not be the first language for 50 percent or more of them, that is a daunting task. It is one I believe they are accomplishing. If not, it is not because these teachers are not working hard with the students. Considerable resources are being expended to make our children successful. We should all be thankful for that.

Wandering around the classrooms we got to visit with students, teachers, and support staff. They all radiated a sense of commitment to what they were doing. I even met a university professor visiting student teachers. There was an easy confidence among the faculty. The faculty knew their students and my sister knew every student (and I was impressed) by name. They knew the students strengths and weaknesses, what motivated them (in most cases), when there were problems at home, what needed to be done to help the student grow, and much more than I can share in a short blog here. One young teacher was keeping a photo journal of her class.

For those that suggest American education is failing, I would argue just the opposite. It is succeeding and succeeding quite well. I can’t speak for high schools, but I can for one elementary school in California. I know that my children received a better education than I did and my grandchildren are receiving yet a better education. It may be that in this highly competitive society we need to keep pushing the limits of learning. I don’t believe we have hit those limits yet and as technology improves so will our ability to deliver learning. I was struck by the limited technology being used in the classroom. I saw overhead projectors that were little changed from when I was a student, yet the overhead transparencies were improved. I saw none of what we call smart classrooms. When I asked my sister about this she said it was beyond their budget capability. Do smart classrooms make students smarter. No, but their use can enhance the opportunity for learning. I need to be careful here as I move into discussion areas I am not qualified to discuss.

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2 Responses to “Classroom visit”

  1. winthrop Says:

    thank you for your work

  2. elivina Says:

    Great job guys…

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