Before I begin, I want you to know that I hear you rapping the title of this post to the line in Bust a Move by Young MC, “No fine girls, just ugly faces…”
Ok, I know that’s bad, but stick with me! There is an actual post coming…
I was rereading a post from Kyle Pace where he talked about what a great teacher his mom was to many students and especially to him. It’s a great post! (You should go read it.) In it, he mentioned how his mom worked so well with her colleagues to bring about wonderful learning experiences. In one paragraph, he wrote:
This is just a sampling of the great things my mom did with her students. This all required extensive interdisciplinary collaboration with her teammates. No closed doors or islands here! Teachers working together to do what’s best for kids and bringing an engaging team approach to everything that they did. Is it just me or has this mantra of teaching dwindled? Why do some not want to do this? It will make your job easier people and your students are the ultimate winners!
I’ve been that closed door teacher. In my first school, it was kind of what you just did. It wasn’t frowned upon, it just happened. Sure, I talked with my teammates and we collaborated on things, but when it was teaching time – Slam, the door was closed.
I also have worked in a school where a closed door was a safe haven. Get rid of the noise, ignore those in the halls, discourage the wandering principal from coming in and please, don’t listen to me teach, don’t judge me – just let me do my thing. Not the most collegial place.
Now, I work in a modified open concept school. I have no doors to close, just large, open entrances to all corners of my room. My walls are cardboard thin (the walls that I have) and on one side, I have tried to create a wall with bookshelves. (If you are interested in seeing my room on You Tube, please visit by clicking here.)
So, do I like this? It definitely has its downfalls. The noise is one thing. I hear everything my neighbors do and they hear me. If I want to listen to music with my students, I need to schedule it carefully so that it doesn’t interfere with my neighbor’s schedule. As much as we can, we schedule tests at the same time as well as group work, snack and many other activities throughout the day.
But that brings me to my main point: there is a huge sense of collaboration and collegiality when you do not have doors. You are forced to work together and make things happen. You see other teachers more often and, well, you just can’t lock yourself away from the rest of the school. Everyone can hear you and you can hear all.
My journey thus far as a teacher has led this to be one thing, that, believe it or not, I’ve ended up really enjoying at the Cashman School in Amesbury. We can yell to each other for a quick meeting, gathering at the intersection of our rooms or even have a full out conversation from our desks 40 feet away from each other.
Don’t get me wrong here – if given the opportunity, I just may welcome some solid walls and maybe a door (or even better a window) in my room, but if we are to see a silver lining here, easy collaboration with my teammates is definitely it!
So remember, “Bust a move” on that classroom door of yours and keep it open. No teacher should feel isolated in the confines of their four walls. “If you want it, you got it. Uh, You want it, baby you got it!”
I know, it’s a stretch… but I hope you enjoyed the song today! 😉 ~EMP