Thursday, December 27, 2012

It's for the Kids

Seasons greetings to you and your loves ones.  Be thankful you have them and if you haven't told them lately how much you care about them, do it today!

Schools are very special places.  And what is it that makes them as unique as they are?  Undoubtedly, the answer has be children.  Kids, if you will.  Children make schools special places because they are all variables.  Nothing changes more year-to-year than the children that pass through the doors, walk the halls and enter into classrooms.  They can be simultaneously constants and variables.  But they should be the shameless focus of everything that drives a school.  They should be the reason teachers and staff get up in the morning and commute to schools around the world.

My school community is no different than yours.  Regardless of what else happens in our world, children pour into our building every morning full of emotions and energy.  Our job as educators is to provide them with a safe environment where they feel confident to learn.  Some days will be more challenging than others, just as some will be more rewarding that others.  But through it all, we need to maintain a focus on the most important part of our school; our students.

Below, I created a word cloud from President Obama's speech to members of Newtown, Connecticut on December 16 using Tagxedo, a free word cloud generator.   One of the reasons I think a word cloud is a valuable tool in the classroom is the alternate way for students to analyze writing, discuss theme and determine author's purpose.  It's a wonderful visual to accompany any writing assignment and allows children the ability to create something as unique as they are.  I chose to use the President's transcript for a couple reasons.  The circumstances surrounding the events from Sandy Hook Elementary touched the hearts of people around the world.  We all have some kind of connection to an elementary school and what happened in Newtown is unimaginable on so many levels.  The other reason I chose this transcript is because it shows very clearly the focus of his speech.  Look at the larger words in the middle of the shape.  Children, community, know, love, and help are some that stand out because they were repeated in the transcript.

Created from the transcript of President Obama's speech delivered to the community
in Newtown, Connecticut on Sunday, December 16, 2012.
The message I take from this post, and what initiated my desire to write, is the unwavering desire to engage children in learning that so many great educators possess.  Sometimes when schools and classrooms become hectic and seem chaotic we need a gentle reminder of why we teach.  It's not about the teacher, parents, administrators or content.  It's about and for the children we think about and work with every day.