“Quiet down, everyone. Please take your seats!”
The chatty group of fourth graders attentively responded to their teacher as they shuffled back to their kid-sized chairs. The children neatly pulled out their spelling tests. “Beautiful: B-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l;” Mrs. Green called out the answers to the spelling test out loud as the students practiced their penmanship by correcting their work by hand. They attentively and happily listened to their teachers directions as they closely focused on the work in front of them.
What is unique about Mrs. Green’s classroom? Amidst an age when children are bombarded by television, social media, advertisements, it is very difficult for an individual person to hold a group’s attention for long periods of time without using technology…especially when it’s a group of almost three dozen fourth graders. It is common knowledge that millennials today are completely dependent on the iPad, iPhone, and Mac computer; we rarely experience the need to write by hand, causing our generation to slowly lose the art of penmanship. However, the trend of the technology dependency is trickling down the age groups. A recent study showed that over 24 percent of fourth grade students have cell phones, 90 percent of them have online access. By middle school, 85 percent of these students will have mobile devices.
How does a teacher keep the attention of students that are so used to the convenience of online access? Mrs. Green not only keeps the students active while learning, but she also goes the extra mile to engage their minds. Creativity floods her classroom: sparkling snowflakes suspend from the ceiling, posters adorn the walls, and colors fill the room making for a warm and exciting atmosphere. She not only opens the door of endlessly interesting subjects, but she paints them in an exciting light, keeping the children on the edge of their seats. Together, the imaginations in the classroom are animated as they dive into the world literature, which Mrs. Green brings to life through animated accounts of famous child figures including Paul Bunyan and Rip Van Winkle. Mrs. Green also encourages her students to be well rounded and cultured. In fact, an entire corner of the fourth grade classroom is dedicated to this very incentive. As a social studies guru, she personally covered an entire chair with maps in which she reads to the students exciting topics regarding world issue and travel. They don’t experience the stories through a screen, but through their teacher’s colorful descriptions and engaging attitude. At the foot of Mrs. Green’s chair, the children sit on a map-themed carpet as their young minds are saturated and expanded with cultural understanding.
Teachers like Cherie Green bring students back to the standards that the United States of America was built on: a patriotic attitude, a strong work ethic, and most importantly a love and reverence for Jesus Christ. Every morning the classroom pledges allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. The children are shown grace and mercy, but also held accountable to their working their hardest. The Christian faith is cultivated in the classroom, as Mrs. Green not only prays with the students, but also for the students.
Why is this woman so successful in gaining respect from the students, keeping their attention, and maximizing their learning? She truly cares about each individual student. After encouraging them to push hard academically, she reminds them in class, “By the way I love you all! And I like that you’re all different from each other; you don’t have to all be the same.” Her care for the students is evident through her motivating posters strategically placed around the room; no matter where the children turn their heads, their eyes will fall upon statements such as “Look, listen, learn!” “The future depends on what we do in the present,” and “Winners exceed expectations.” She speaks truth to the students and not only encourages them to be their very best academically, but also in their integrity and character.
Numerous studies by universities will tell you that one of the key qualities that makes teachers most successful is genuinely caring for the students. Teachers’ expectations for the students to be successful also make a big difference in how they perform. Most will only perform to the capacity that their teachers expect. Many adults remember their elementary school teachers who took part in molding their minds, growth, and future. The mind of a child is incredibly vulnerable and shapeable. Teachers like Mrs. Green are the individuals who shape and mold the success of the next generation by offering them what technology can never provide: care, discipline, faith, and love.