Being 53 + 32 weeks: Our classroom is a community of writers

I couldn’t have said it better myself…actually, I wish I’d said it!

Francisco Jimenez, on teaching writing to students who are learning to communicate their ideas in the English language:

Being in the classroom gives me energy. It’s wonderful to be helping young people develop their talents and to see them getting engaged and wrestling with the subject matter. That’s very exciting to me. I strongly believe that I learn from them. They have different experiences that they bring to discussions that profoundly enrich me as a teacher. Students have responded positively to our journey together. I tell them how blessed I feel to be a teacher and to have the privilege of learning from them and helping them to learn.

Part 4 – His words to you: quotes from Francisco Jimenez


Being 53 + 32 weeks: What did I learn from you today?

I’m getting everything ready for my new classroom.  I have 90 students on my roster.  Similar to China, without the help of photos I would have no way of knowing which of my students are male or female.  I won’t know until next week what countries they each come from.

I woke up this morning with the inspiration of a class theme I’m finally happy with – although nervous about whether I can actually let this type of self-directed learning happen.

The theme:  What did I learn from you today?

Sounds simple, right?  It may not be obvious that the pronouns are not what you might be thinking.  The question is, “What did Diane learn from [students] today.”

I realize I need to have a structure for our class time each day, but I really want to challenge students (and myself) with the idea that there is something, some thing that I can learn from them if they will only teach me.

In his book, Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes of how journalism became his tool for exploring the world around him, and how it gave him permission to learn anything he desired:

“…with journalism I could directly ask people…about anything I might wonder.  So much of my life was defined by not knowing.”

This is how I feel about my classroom.  There are only so many hours in a day, and only so many days in a lifetime.  I could never venture into every corner of the world to learn of such a variety of people, cultures, and languages as I will find in my classroom.  I will never find another environment (short of the library) where I can look within myself to the extent I’m forced to do when in a classroom.  That’s why I love teaching my specialty area so much.  I don’t want to have lived my life “not knowing” and certainly not without at least asking the questions.

Wish me luck! And thanks for reading!