Last Saturday, I had the privilege of going with a group of Brighton students to present a Peace Corps World Map they had painted to a Japanese Delegation at the Birmingham Festival Arts Japanese Workshop. This event was held at a new middle school across town. This new building was incredible and very high tech. Our students entered the building with wide-eyed amazement and immediately began whispering to each other about the facility. One student said, “We are in paradise!”
Their reaction to this school did not surprise me. I was pretty blown away myself, especially when one of the video monitors in the front hallway was showing a PowerPoint of our students painting the map. I cannot tell you how many times we watched this presentation.
I know children want to go to a beautiful school. I want to work in a beautiful school. I was so glad I could tell the children as they oohed and aahed over this school that we were going to have a new building in two years. Several weeks ago it was announced that Brighton would have a new $9 million facility. Construction is going to start this summer. I know many people in the community have a strong attachment to the old 1950’s building; however, the children of Brighton need something new. They need to know that their educational needs are valued and what more concrete expression of this than to have a new building. I can’t wait!! All children want and deserve a safe, clean, and beautiful school to attend every day.
The other incident that occurred last week involving students’ reactions did surprise me. As our teachers have prepared for state testing and analyzed benchmark testing data, it became evident that we had some real areas of content need. To assist our teachers and to insure ours students had access to all content, on behalf of our State Peer Assistant I requested additional support help from our district instructional supervisors. My request was honored and these supervisors are coming in to team-teach with our teachers.
During this time, eighth grade students are getting 90 minutes of assisted instruction in English and Math. After the first 90-minute English block, the eighth grade students in one class clapped for the supervisor’s lesson. The student’s reaction to the lesson made the supervisor become quite emotional. She told me she felt like a star!
I have only one year’s experience in teaching middle school, but I do not think this is a common occurrence for eighth grade students to clap for a lesson well done by a teacher. If memory serves, my own two sons at this age did not think it was too cool to appreciate a teacher’s work. However, our Brighton kids really appreciated this effort by an outside teacher. This tells me kids want good instruction and this particular group is hungry to learn.
During the 70’s, the expression “all children can learn” became quite popular. I have to admit I am of this teacher generation, and this quote is deeply embedded in my own teaching philosophy. What I know now is that all children can learn, if they have quality instruction led by highly effective teachers in a safe and healthy environment.
This is what kids want and what they deserve.