Packing up the classroom, a chore that teachers carry out at the end of the school year, can also be a time for reflection. Interestingly, Francis Bacon noted the importance of quiet time for intellectual growth. He wrote, “Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.” This phrase is particularly relevant to our milieu. For example, being immersed in the silence of the classroom, sorting materials left from the past year, and not hurrying to prepare the next class (as is happening now) enables teachers to take stock of the year. Teachers select classroom tools that could be reused with little modification in the future. They might also ponder which curriculum parts and teaching methods would appear worth keeping, which ones need to be modified, and which ones do not merit redeployment.
Quiet reflection allows teachers to visualize new possibilities like how to redistribute the furniture to better reflect the style of teaching. Matching the height of shelves, boards, and desks to students’ needs is vital to maximize comfort and promote learning.
The end of the year offers the possibility to entertain new teaching ideas, ready to be explored with the next group of students. Furthermore, an unoccupied classroom encourages teachers to look honestly at the successes and failures of the year gone by and consider partaking in new summer learning opportunities, like the ones offered by JTeach.
Shimon, [Gamliel’s] son, would say, “All my days I sat among the Sages and I have found nothing better for a person than silence.” (Pirkei Avot 1:17)
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Dr. Alicia Gejman