In response to the 12/6/11 post, “Teacher Nests – Part 8,” an old school LYSer writes: SC, I really enjoy the dialogue about teacher nesting habits and agree that it facilitates teachers staying in their comfort zone instead of the power zone. Teachers (and administrators) ought to plan on their seat but instruct (guide) on their feet. However, I was in two classrooms today that were as sterile as an unoccupied hospital room. The room was cold, uneventful, uninviting and spoke little of student-centered instruction, imagination, engagement and appreciation. Students seemed huddled together against the coldness, which could be easily melted by a room filled with the personality of the students and the content. Student work needs to be posted, inspirational tools should be at eye level, instructional keys and suggests strategically placed and regions of engagement defined and created to be inviting to students. Maybe we should remember to move away from teacher nests and move into learning habitats where student success is not a threatened and endangered species. SC Response Let’s remind ourselves of a couple of thing before we delve any further into this topic. First, if any administrator, counselor or professional support staff member has an office that is “nesty,” that has to be addressed first, before there is any discussion with any teacher. As it relates to purposeful instructional environments, if administration and support don’t “walk the walk” first, then no one “talks the talk.” Second, the “Power Zone” for administration and professional support staff is the classroom. Again, if administration and professional support are unwilling to spend significant time in their “Power Zone,” insisting that teachers change their practice is the height of hypocrisy. Third, though contrary to conventional wisdom, when it comes to instructional environments, sterile is more conducive to instruction than overly decorated. What we have to remember is that the critical variable in the classroom is the teacher and the quality of instruction. No environment can overcome a poor teacher delivering substandard instruction. But a master teacher delivering quality instruction can overcome numerous environmental factors. My discussion with most teachers deals with the fact that their classroom environment diminishes their effectiveness. Which means that they have to work harder than they need to in order ensure student success. Essentially, the come to work each day to run a series of 100 yard dashes, but before they get started they strap a 50 pound pack to their back. Crazy. However, with your comments on classroom environments you are lining up with the teaching and philosophy of Lesa Cain. The classroom belongs to the students. Everything in the room should be geared towards their needs and success. If we find ourselves creating classroom environments that address adult needs, we have to question our motives and remind ourselves of the purpose of what we do. Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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