What is the vision for your classroom? What do you want the students to experience when they are in your class? The answer to those questions should go way deeper than teaching students the state standards. Do you have a classroom vision? If I was asked that question as a teacher, I would have to answer it with a solid “no.” I never really thought about how I wanted students to view my class. I tried to make learning fun and meaningful, but I didn’t have a specific vision in mind. I didn’t realize at the time how important having a vision was.
In the book Teach Like a Pirate, Dave Burgess wrote his vision for the classroom. He wrote his vision in letter format as seen through the eyes of a fictional student.
As I walked in to SS-9 as a new student in Mr. Burgess’ class, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of anticipation. I’d heard about his reputation, I’d heard my peers tell all of the strange stories, and I most certainly had seen his over-the-top costumes as he paraded around campus. There was no possible way that he could live up to all of the hype, and yet after a few weeks, I realized that Mr. Burgess was even better than advertised.
I have never seen such a consistent level of enthusiasm from a teacher, or anyone else for that matter. This man has a passion for teaching. He is a larger-than-life superhuman mix of educator, psychologist, historian, magician, stand-up comic, and certified lunatic! Some days I feel I should have to pay admission to see his lesson, and every day I am amazed that I have learned so much! I only hope to find something to do with my life that brings me that much joy and fulfillment.
One thing is certain, learning history has never been this much fun or this easy. I don’t mean easy as in we don’t have to learn a lot, I mean easy as in I notice that I’m retaining all of the content without my usual struggles. It must be that brain-based research and those mnemonics that Mr. Burgess told us about at the beginning of the year. I have even noticed that some of my friends who always seem to fail the classes we have together understand the material. It’s really strange, these are the same kids that are getting in trouble and having confrontations with teachers in my other classes and yet here they thrive. It’s almost like the air is easier to breath in SS-9. I’m going to be honest with you…some days this class is the only reason I come to school.”
Wow, Now that is a vision! What student wouldn’t want to spend time in this teacher’s classroom?
Dave goes on to compare a vision to a GPS.
When embarking on any journey, choosing the destination is a critical first step. With a destination in mind, you can set your internal GPS and be assured you are heading in the correct direction. It makes no sense at all to drive the streets of your city getting further and further lost and increasingly frustrated, and then have the nerve to blame your expensive GPS system when, actually, you never entered a destination. You have to have a vision of what your ideal classroom experience looks like if you want to have any hope of creating it.
If you haven’t created a classroom vision, I encourage you to do that sometime soon. Maybe it would be a good Spring Break activity! 🙂 Before you start creating your vision though, first take stock in where you are currently. Once you know where you are starting, you can then use your GPS (vision) to make sure you are taking the correct steps to get you to your final destination!