One of my responsibilities at my job is to coordinate a student of the month program. From nominations that I receive from teachers across the Missoula area I pick a student each month to recognize. I then take a couple of our student-athletes and our mascot with me to the student’s school and we stage a little presentation. If there is one thing I have learned from visiting various elementary and middle schools it is this: teachers have changed.
When I say teachers have changed I mean it in the coolest, most productive way possible. To me, teachers seem much more energetic, much more outside of the box, and much more happy! The whole classroom environment is completely different. Now you might say that I just have a skewed perspective and I look at things in a different way since it has been a good 15 years since I was last in elementary school but I tend to disagree.
Take for example today. The teacher whose classroom we were in came up and warmly greeted us and then asked if we were ready for him to get the attention of the students so we could start the presentation. We said yes. He then went to the front area of the classroom, pulled out a guitar, and then started playing a simple melody. He did not say one word nor did he sing one lyric but as he played all the students stopped what they were doing, zipped their lips, and formed a circle around a piece of fluffy red rug that looked like it was from the 1970’s. It was pretty incredible.
Say what you will, I NEVER had a teacher play guitar in any of my classrooms and I definitely never had any of them use music to capture such perfect attention. I have also noticed that there just isn’t that rigid structure anymore. Desks aren’t lined up in perfect rows, class time doesn’t move exactly according to an agenda written on the whiteboard, and strict formalities such as raising hands and staying in your seat are no longer sacred commandments. School at the elementary level just seems much more modernized and fun.
Not to say I didn’t have good teachers growing up because I definitely did. I can’t remember one teacher I had who didn’t teach us material or who didn’t look out for our best interests. I am just saying the total teaching dynamic has changed. Obviously it has taken a new kind of teacher to change that dynamic. I personally like what I see. We owe a lot to our educators who are doing all they can to get through to our young students in the most impactful way possible. Don’t Blink.