"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do." Helen Keller

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Fran Richardson
Welcome to my blog!I'm a teacher in a beautiful, small, rural town. I moved here a few years ago, but I have taught over 20 years in this same small town that is now my home. My experience is in teaching second, third, and fourth grades with one year in sixth grade. I am always reading, learning, and reflecting on what goes on in my classroom. I love the work that I do with the parents, my fellow teachers, and most all-my students.I hope you will enjoy reading my blog.
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The Scholar, Age 5

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Where The Rubber Hits The Road…

That phrase keeps coming to me, “That’s where the rubber hits the road.” The weeks of summer vacation are quickly passing by, and in a month, I will have students again.

It’s been fun the past several days pinning photos of bulletin boards, displays, classroom arrangements, and  social studies projects on my classroom board at Pinterest, but the reality is that I need to get into my  real room and get some of these things off my to-do list.

There are some people who mistakenly believe that the 4-5  day week before school starts for students is when teachers can get those tasks done, but the truth is you can’t. Those in-service days aren’t designed to all be  “teacher workdays,” and so chances are you will only have a good full day to get the room set-up. It can be done, but it is probably not the best decision.

I am not one who believes every  single spare space of the wall needs a chart or  teacher-made or store- bought decoration. I believe in anchor charts, but I also believe in my students creating  writing, art work and projects that will become part of our room’s décor.

I do believe in putting around  my own personal touches in my classroom especially with older students. I do believe that I need to  personalize this space because that personalized space can be an invitation to get to know me. In my case, I put pictures around of the “fourth grade Fran” that you see here along with several  other pictures of my parents and me . My boys often pick up the picture of my father being carried off the field by his football team, and they ask about that  person and who he is, and that is exactly why I do it: I want my kids to ask questions and have conversations with me.I put those things around my room so the kids see I am a real person and that my life has been enriched by the people around me and the experiences we shared.

Several years ago there was a push to remove all the personal touches from our classrooms. Someone who was “our special friend” from our state department told several of us that she worked with on a weekly basis to “remove any personal objects that have no real educational purpose.”  (I suppose seeming more business-like  and impersonal would improve test scores).  Reluctantly I did put away several class pictures, handmade crafts from kids, and personal photographs. My room didn’t have much of me left when it was done. At the time, I didn’t argue or question, but now I know better: My kids need to be reminded every day of what is important to me by what is included in my classroom.

And what is important to me should be a reflection of what I want  for my students. Anyone coming into my room should be able to tell what is important  immediately from what they see in that classroom. Looking around my room, there are reminders of what I want for my students. I want my students to have the support of loving adults-teachers, coaches, and parents. I want my students to value education not just as a ticket to better paying job, but as a personal lifelong journey. I want my students to understand the importance of teamwork. I want my students to understand what it means to give your best effort and personal best. I also want my students to begin to learn that some lessons require much hard work and sacrifice in order to excel. I want my students to see the love of books, history, and life that fills that room.

I would say to everyone who teaches young or old that before the first chair or desk or bookshelf is  moved or placed to do this: Sit down and write down what you want your class to know about you in your own classroom. Can your class see what you value by looking around your room? Let you answers to these questions drive your decisions in planning and set your purpose for the upcoming year. Let those words be your mission statement.

Somewhere in my many travels across blogs and teaching websites and professional reading these past several weeks, I  saw a mission statement posted. I don’t mean the one that your  principal or your school or  your district tells you that you have to post: I am talking about your personal mission statement. Write  those beliefs down on a piece of paper, put those beliefs where you can see them, and let  those words  guide you as up set up  your classroom and plan for this school year.

 

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MY BELIEFS ABOUT TEACHING

"I bear the flame that enlightens the world. I fire the imagination. I give might to dreams and wings to the aspirations of men."
- Marva Collins, from her poem, "I Am Excellence."

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