Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Quality School Teacher

While moderating comments on this blog, I came across one poignant comment made by an anonymous college student. This student was reading Dr. William Glasser's profound work, The Quality School: Managing Students Without Coercion. Afterward, Anonymous would continue the assignment by making a lesson based on the tenets proposed in The Quality School.

I was so touched by the powerful comment of this anonymous person wanting to learn more, yet recognizing that Dr. Glasser's ideas are timeless in the power to move learning beyond anything we often experience.

Immediately, I responded with encouragement and (hopefully) a suggestion, as Dr. William Glasser would say, that Anonymous would be well served to adapt some of the lessons shared in The Quality School.

That wasn't the end, for me. I began to think,

What did Dr. Glasser's work mean to me? and How did it affect my teaching philosophy and practice?
It seems to me that Anonymous must be on a similar journey.

As I thought back to the time when I first learned about The Quality School, I recognized two basic questions that guided my personal learning process to improve my impact as a teacher.
*How could I be effective in teaching and learning?
*Where do I start the journey?

Starting remains a potent obstacle in anyone's work, so I was hoping that my words were of some help to Anonymous. I believe that Anonymous wants to be an excellent teacher who is beginning the quest to teach well.

Anonymous was also a great help to me. When I read my original post, The Quality School, I realized I needed to go back to the core of my experiences in learning about The Quality School. I would refresh my experiences on my educational journey. I needed my STUFF.

I keep all of my teaching artifacts, materials, and books, including Dr. Glasser's in my small warehouse on a farm about 4 miles out of town. Yesterday, I decided to go out there and find these books. Since I hadn't been out to the warehouse in several months, I was concerned. I hoped I wouldn't spend a great amount of time looking for the right box among the vast number I use at various times in my teaching and professional development.

When I began looking, I was overwhelmed and amazed at how well I organized my STUFF. I forgot that I finally did it. I really organized my STUFF, so I could utilize it.

Every box had a detailed label on it. I enjoyed looking through the boxes, cabinets, and drawers as I thought about all the lessons past, present and future. After thirty minutes, I had oriented myself well enough to seriously look for my favorite books on education philosophy, psychology, and pedagogy.

As I lifted one box from the top, I noticed some valuable notebooks containing lessons on graphic organizers for reading, writing and math. I set these by the door. Then I looked in the same area and there was a small plastic container that said "MOM's CDs". I wondered, "What's this?". I opened them and found music CDs I thought I had lost, but now they were found. Right next to this container was a very sturdy cardboard box with my handwritten note: IMPORTANT EDUCATIONAL BOOKS, INCLUDING THE QUALITY SCHOOL.

Surprise and shock ruled the moment, and then I felt that strong sense of elation when you truly accomplish a task well.

I took my loot home, after I did the Dance of Joy.

Beyond these past two days, I continue sorting, reading, writing and thinking. Tonight, I finished reading The Quality School Teacher, and I focused my efforts surveying class activities and lessons related to Dr. Glasser's tenets.

Even now, after all these years, I am overwhelmed by Dr. Glasser's work. I would like to share THE SIX CONDITIONS OF QUALITY SCHOOLWORK, that he discusses in Chapter Three, The Six Conditions of Quality of the bookThe Quality School Teacher.
1. There must be a warm, supportive classroom environment.
2. Students should be asked to do only useful work.
3. Students are always asked to do the best they can do.
4. Students are asked to evaluate their own work and improve it.
5. Quality work always feels good.
6. Quality work is NEVER destructive.

Now, I know why I was so affected by the short, yet profound anonymous comment about The Quality School. When you read about how you, the teacher, can teach and live in a quality school, it is a shock, a revelation. Quality seems impossible, but that is what Dr. Glasser says is only our personal reaction, based on our own lack of experience.

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