As the son of a 4th grade teacher, I spent a lot of time in school. My mother had to be in school from 7 AM (school started at 7:55) until 2:15 PM, but often stayed as late as 3:30 or 4 in order to prepare for her students. This “prep time” was the bane of my childhood. While other students were playing in the neighborhood, I was stuck in my mom’s 4th grade classroom doing homework, reading a book, or watching PBS. One of my least-hated shows on PBS was the Magic School Bus.
For those of use who weren’t raised by U.S. TV—or whose parents could afford the GOOD STATIONS during the formative years of your life—the Magic School Bus followed Ms. Friz’s class on adventures in science, history,and a myriad of other elementary school lessons. It had episodes on how your body turns food into energy, or what happens to you when you get a cold. It shows what the civil war was like, and how the water cycle works.
But one thing that the Magic School Bus never did was assign grades.
Grades had no place is Ms. Friz’s class. Her teaching philosophy was “take chances, make mistakes!” And she lead her class on the most exciting (well, exciting to a 2nd grader) adventures into the world we live in. And, what’s more, it made the TV watching drones of students learn.
As a teacher, I want to create a place safe for my students to fail. I want to build a classroom that is the academic equivalent of a bouncy castle: a place where things are fun and fast paced but safe. In the “real world” you can’t run into a wall just to see what would happen, but I want my students to run into the walls they’ve been taught. I want my students to feel safe to fail.