Saturday, January 9, 2010

Classroom Closeup, Thursday, January 7th

"Do you have a poster that isn't shiny?"
"No! They're all like that!"
Rich, from Classroom Closeup, the NJEA television program that highlights teaching and learning in New Jersey, was worried about the light the gloss on my posters might create. I hadn't thought about that before.

Kids soon flooded into the room all dressed in white jackets. We were pretending to be doctors who were from Venezuela, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Spain and Mexico. Half of the kids were "doctors" who thought modern technology was just great and the other half thought that traditional medicine was the way to go. We were gathered to figure out how we could agree on a document to submit to the World Health Organization. "How much modern and traditional medicine should be included in a universal health plan?" Middle School "doctors" came in to present their research findings with their teacher. Their teacher is my daughter, Melynda - but the kids call her "Profe."

Once the students arrived and the lesson began to take shape, the Classroom Closeup team became totally engaged in our mock medical conference, all taking place in Spanish. I could tell that they were really concentrating on understanding the Spanish we were speaking.

"I kept hearing the words "pero" and "tambien" said Wendell Steinhaur, the NJEA Vice President, with a his characteristic warm smile. "What do those words mean?" The students were glad to clarify. "Pero" means "but" and "tambien" means "also," said Claudia, an 8th grade visitor.

Classroom Closeup filmed and worked all day filming segments that go with the piece they were creating on the NJ Teacher of the Year. It was interesting to see a small crew of four turn a classroom or a corner of our library into a studio.

"The light is good in here. It's natural." Hmm, I thought, I won't look at the light in my school in the same way again!

After we were all done, we took a picture of our association president, Bill Cobb, with John Keenan, our Superintendent and Joe Occhino, our Northern Highlands Regional High School Principal. Everyone had been busy when they were called for the shot, but they ran over with enthusiasm and energy.

We smiled, the camera clicked and clicked and I worried about my cowlick.

"How's my cowlick?" I asked Wanda Swanson, the show's Executive Producer.
"Fine!" I hoped she wasn't humoring me. I guess nobody will really care about that errant strip of hair but me.

The day ended and I thought about how lucky I was to have my daughter as my colleague for a day with students from my class and hers collaborating. Who gets to have this kind of experience? Plus, the kids felt really important, as well they should. They did a wonderful job and made me so proud.

 As a teacher, you can give your heart and soul and your scraps of knowledge, but the students make it come together. They do the magical learning and on some days, you stand back and can just admire them. Today was like that. I was in the shoot, teaching and interacting in Spanish the whole time, but somehow I was also watching the whole thing from a corner of the room where I could see how this all came together. Perfecto!

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