Creating Joyful Classrooms
I became a teacher in a nontraditional way. But I became a teacher for a very traditional reason. I wanted to make a difference.
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I am grateful to the pioneering teachers and principals at my two Project CHILD research schools: Minnie Harris, principal at Westside Elementary School in Daytona Beach, Florida; and Robert McEachern, principal at Valparaiso Elementary School in Valparaiso, Florida. They helped make a dream come true with their courage to pilot something different and their leadership in overcoming inevitable...
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This new book expands upon Joyful Classrooms in an Age of Accountability: The Project CHILD Recipe for Success to give practical advice and strategies for all elementary teachers, whether in Project CHILD schools or not. The goal is to return joy and passion to teaching and learning.
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Sunday evening can be a very depressing time for teachers who dread going back to school on Monday morning. What stomach-churning drama awaits when they open that classroom door? Disruptive students? Dissatisfied administrators? Disgruntled parents?
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The name Project CHILD was an intentional decision to put children at the heart of the model. The original CHILD acronym stood for “Computers Helping Instruction and Learning Development (Figure 2.1).” But over the years, this led to confusion as to whether Project CHILD was a computer-based program or perhaps computer software. It is not. It is a teaching model that incorporates...
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Creating Joyful Classrooms
The previous chapter described the Project CHILD system of multigrade, multiyear teaching. This chapter will focus on some of the essential elements that can be adapted for a single-grade, self-contained classroom.
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A joyful classroom is like a cocoon where children are enveloped in a warm and safe climate until they are ready to fly. A joyful classroom is a place where children are free to make mistakes and have second chances. A joyful classroom encourages creativity, spontaneity, laughter, and hugs.
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Successful teachers know how to maintain order and use time wisely. Without an orderly classroom, it is difficult to teach effectively. Children who are off task and not paying attention are surely not learning—at least not learning what the teacher is trying to teach. Likewise, disengaged students who are passively waiting and watching are withering on the vine and not learning to their...
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Jobs and careers that exist today were unheard of a generation ago. Who could have believed that a “chip” was something other than a snack? The term “Google” did not exist. And who could have imagined carrying a “smart” phone in your pocket that can give travel directions, show movies, and take photos?
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What happens when teachers try a new approach? Thinking outside the box is one thing; stepping outside the box is another. It takes courage to break out of the isolation of the egg carton school, but the rewards are great. There will be setbacks that cause heartbreak. But every journey begins with the first step.
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Most teachers begin their careers having taken several years of classes on pedagogy and curriculum content, followed by at least a semester of student teaching. But not me. I opened the door in 1969 to my fourth-grade classroom with none of that training or experience under my belt. What was I thinking? Let me tell you how I got to this place, and how it led me to develop the Project CHILD...
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Sarah M. (Sally) Butzin, PhD, is the founding president and executive director of the Institute for School Innovation in Tallahassee, Florida. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in economics from DePauw University, a master of science degree in reading and elementary education from Florida State University, and a doctor of philosophy degree in elementary education from Florida State...
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