I visited Glenwood Park Elementary this past Thursday. Although the school is almost over its capacity, the staff has made creative use of the space they have and children are enthusiastic, on task, and don’t even notice the nearly “standing room only” in their classrooms. That’s because the teachers know how to move smoothly from one topic to the next, keep their students focused, and make learning a treasure.
I stepped into every classroom and saw countless ways our teachers keep students engaged. I watched as children worked at various work stations either in small groups or by themselves as they read from books, from iPads and on laptops. Students discussed themes of various stories they read and learned that many books share the same themes as well as have more than one theme. I saw children learning about the Constitution and our political system. I watched students transition quietly to their “specials” or take a trip to the library. I was impressed with the children’s eagerness and their respect for their education. The students welcomed me, but they also remained on task. One read a story to me, one asked for help with how to pronounce words, and several introduced themselves, shook my hand, and asked me questions relevant to my visit. What a delight it was to see these children so respectful and thoughtful to a visitor.
I was especially impressed with the Class Dojo app one teacher was piloting. With technology being such a huge part of our everyday lives, it was great to see this app being used because it blends well with the many other modes of technology being used in the classroom as well as the technology used at homes. This app is similar to Facebook, but it only includes parents and students within a given classroom. Parents can view photos and video in real time. This also means that a lesson can be recorded and viewed together at home when a child has difficulty understanding. This means that parents can see what is going on in a classroom and get immediate feedback on how their child is doing.
I know there is much controversy about “screen time” for children, appropriate use of technology in the classroom, etc. Personally, I loved seeing the array of technology being used at Glenwood. It is part of our world, part of our everyday lives. It makes work and school more efficient, less wasteful, and more productive. I commend the teachers for incorporating it throughout the lives of both students and parents.
I want to give a huge “thank you” to the staff at Glenwood Park for inviting me into their building and sharing the amazing things they do every day with our children. Visits like these always reinforces that the work of a teacher is difficult, demanding, and always fluctuating. It takes great teachers to keep up with these demands, and that is definitely what I saw at Glenwood Park Elementary.
To learn more about Class Dojo, you can watch a short video here.