For years I have mostly flown economy class. This has included many domestic and international flights. I have had a few occasions to fly business and although it was nice I never made a connection to my teaching and classroom. Recently my husband has taken me with him on 2 business trips and both times we flew business class.
When you fly economy you are politely greeted at the door of the plane. You find your seat and then find place for your carry on luggage. Often if you are a bit late the overhead bins near you are full and you search for another spot or fill the area by your feet. Even if you are early someone may come in and decide to move your things to make room for their own belongings. If you have made a “special” meal request the flight attendants will come find you to confirm your name and request. Otherwise you are served either chicken or beef that is prepackaged and looks just like you neighbor’s. You have very little room to move around. You can get up when the seatbelt sign is off but often you have to disturb others seated nearby.
In business class you are one of the first allowed on the plane so you can find lots of room for your belongings. With the newer planes on international flights you will often have your own cubicle with a seat that reclines into a bed and no need to disturb anyone if you need or want to get up. The flight attendant will come to your seat, know your name, introduce themselves and ask if you would like a drink before take off. You are served drinks in glass cups. There is a menu filled with a variety of delicious choices for your meals and a variety of snacks you can order throughout the flight. When it is dinner time the flight attendant prepares your table with a linen cloth. Your meal is served in courses on real plates with real silverware. As I reflected on how my classroom should resemble business class with a choice menu and personal working space I was also struck by the fact in business class although traveling with my husband there was generally a wall between us and very little opportunity to talk. On our second flight, from Frankfurt to Geneva we were on a smaller plane and although in business class we were seated right next to one another. At the airport we also had access to the business lounge were we had computer access, more food and a variety of seats to choose from. So although flying business class is great to relax, stretch out and even have a lot of workspace with delicious food, their needs to be balance.
I want my classroom to be a place where students are not only known by name but given choices based on interests and abilities. They also need to learn to collaborate with classmates and with students outside of my class. They need to make good choices of where to work and how to use their work space appropriately. We have begun this with our language arts structure of using the Daily 5 and to some degree with our math choices. I’ve tried to incorporate more choices in Bible as students choose how to show their understanding of content and concepts. I am still working on how to provide more choices based on ability, particularly in math. As we face our final push when we return from spring break on April 1, my desire is to provide my students with choices that will engage, encourage and empower them in the learning process not only for this year but all of their lives.
As in all aspects of life there needs to be balance. Students need to learn to make choices and to follow the rules, they also need to learn to work independently as well as collaboratively. As their teacher I need to know them and know myself and my limitations so I can keep balance in my own life. I need to model the attitudes and behaviors I desire to see in my students, love of God, family and others, commitment to lifelong learning, collaboration and high expectations.