I have had many lessons learned at Open House from parents, and this was one of the most enlightening. It has remained with me for many years. Britney was a quiet, cooperative student, but she never kept her focus for more than a minute or two. When I met her mother at Open House, I mentioned this, hoping that her mother would help with Britney’s problem. Instead, her mother looked around my well-decorated classroom and sighed. I had always prided myself on an enriching, educational design–children’s writings and drawings, free time tickets, beautifully embellished rules, an alphabet with cute animals holding different letters—all hanging around my, oh, so, engaging, classroom.
“I wouldn’t be able to pay attention in this room, either,” she said.
Suddenly, a light bulb…
My job was to bring success to struggling readers who had failed in regular reading classes. I already knew that Britney was distractible. The next day, feeling a little guilty, and actually, sad, I removed most attention-grabbing elements of my room. I soon bought a set of simple, black and white alphabet cards and attached them above the chalkboard. I rehung just three uncomplicated rules, and I removed some student art and writing. I changed the smaller displays more often, so I was still giving all students a chance to show their work. When I finished, I can’t say that my room looked better personally to me, but I KNOW it was less distracting and more effective for Britney and others like her.
I also began to erase everything else when I wrote something on the chalkboard that I wanted students to focus upon.
This is another lesson learned from a student (and her mother) that I will always remember.
For some beneficial ideas for both teachers and parents at Open House during American Education Week, check out my
© Reading Spotlight 2016