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Turning Beliefs into Actions

I've been doing some serious contemplation of my educational philosophy, thanks to Whitney of With Love from Texas and her Beliefs to Actions Challenge.

These are my beliefs about education (at this point in time--you know they may change by about mid-October!). So, how do I turn my beliefs into action? What does this look like in my classroom?

Well, first, my classroom is NOT the quietest in the hall. There is a constant buzz, which sometimes becomes a rumble or even a roar, as students talk with each other about their work. They start the class period at desks, but quickly move to a round table, a couch, or "the loft" so that they can interact with each other more naturally.

Those are just superficial measures, though. I know the arrangement of the classroom and the routines and procedures do make a difference in establishing an environment of authentic engagement, but more important is our willingness to grapple with difficult work and real-world issues.

For example, one of my most memorable lessons from this past year was a debate my seventh-graders conducted. We had been studying literature and nonfiction from the Civil Rights movement when the question arose about whether racism is still a problem in America. My kids divided into teams based on their initial beliefs and spent two days researching to find support for their positions. Then they discussed what they had found in the most mature manner you can imagine. There were strong feelings on both sides, and their comments brought tears to my eyes at least once. Did we answer the question definitively? No, I don't think anyone can. But they thought deeply about it, they used evidence to support their ideas, and they were willing to consider others' ideas, as well.

That, to me, is what education is about.

I challenge you to list your own beliefs about education and to think about how you put those into action in your classroom. What drives you?

Continue on this blog hop by visiting Nikki at Teaching Autism here to see what drives her.


  1. Michelle, I love how you shared what you'll do to turn those beliefs into actions. I am right there with you- a quiet classroom with only the teacher talking for most of the class is never going to be as engaging as a class with a "buzz" of learning going on. I loved hearing that you challenged your students to such a great debate, especially in today's world- I think it's so important for kids to learn how to research a topic like that to develop their opinion, especially with so many news sources (many with their own bias) and the world of social media. I can tell you really push your students to THINK- and that's what I want for my room, too!


  2. Wow! I love your list, especially your statement about students craving challenging and meaningful work. This is definitely something I try to do all the time! Thanks for sharing your beliefs :)

    Cait's Cool School

  3. Your beliefs are great! I love how you shared the civil war debate with us! It sounds like you run your classroom so well - the students most certainly sound like they enjoy being taught by you!

    Teaching Autism