Nice Classroom…I guess

The difference between judgementalness and  curiosity is sometimes just a small change in the tone of your voice. The difference between “Nice classroom!” and “Oh. Nice…uh…classroom.”

I experienced both recently, when experienced teachers came into my classroom to offer critical assistance in one case, and an unsolicited critique in the other.

“I love how colorful it is,” the first said. “It looks inviting. I see how you have honored children’s words on the walls by showing their work and the words they chose to make the class rules. I see responses to literature, science inquiry and a word wall.”  Then she proceeded to help me change around my room to make work flow better.

Contrast this with:

A slow look around the room, expression arch. First words:”Where’s your couch? This isn’t really the kind of room they’re used to.” Then the paced quickened:  That’s such a traditional word wall. Where are the children’s words? They should get to choose what words they want to learn.” A quick glance at the two science labs we have done: “Are they really interested in that?”

It’s so easy to learn when we start with appreciation. It’s so hard to learn when it all comes from a space of criticism.


Susan A. Olcott

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