Michael

Heard in the classroom

“Mr. Ellis was my language arts teacher my senior year of high school. I give credit to him for planting the seed to teach and what I thought the job should look like. Every other class, the teacher told us what was correct. And the best you could do is memorize that. But every week, he’d introduce a controversial topic that rattled you. ‘You think you know how the world works? Let me throw this gray question out there, and you have to decide black or white.’ Kids were standing up and getting upset about physician-assisted suicide and how we decide what crime is too heinous for a juvenile to be tried. But his point was: You need to have evidence for your opinions. I’d walk away feeling ‘how did I learn so much and it didn’t feel like work?’ At the end, we had to write a paper. But I knew where I stood and could write and write and write. I did an activity reminiscent of that with my own class. I wanted them to understand claims, evidence, and response. I told them the Earth was too polluted to live on and gave them two other planets we could colonize. They had to decide which planet. Our house was divided. They really got into it and debated back and forth. ‘We can’t live there because the reptiles are poisonous!’ ‘But there’s no water on that planet!’ They could have gone on forever.”
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— Michael, 1st year teacher, 6th grade, Calif.
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📷 and ♥️ by @anastridendeavor