/  By  / 

A classroom of calm and purpose

favicon Today, my students participated in a Socratic seminar on The Scarlet Letter. Half the class talked about the book while the other half did independent work. Then they switched.

The discussions were only OK. In fact, I was way more impressed with the students working on the other side of the room.

Most students were reading the book. Others were taking turns on the computer to complete an online homework assignment. One went to the bathroom. Another wrapped a raffle gift for the end of class.

They did all of this with calm and focus, without any prompting, and without distracting the students in discussion. They understood what the main event was and made sure not to disrupt the proceedings. Not only were the students quiet, but they were also engaged in their own work.

I didn’t have to tell them my expectations before, during, or after. They just did the right thing.

This is what I’m looking for in my classes — that we know where we are, what we’re doing, what the goal is, and how to get there.

As a teacher, I love working with students, irrespective of their academic skill level, who have deep respect for each other and their education.

A well-functioning classroom — where there is respect, support, and empathy — is something all students and teachers deserve every day. I am fortunate that I get to work in such a classroom this year. favicon


  1. Beth Silbergeld

    it was an amazing sense of community today when i went in there. it was so quiet on the outside of the circle. I hesitated to go in, as I saw you were being observed, but as in real time- i needed to check in. i am grateful that you are teaching at LHS.

  2. Chris Mercer

    Thank you for sharing this image. While there are glimpses of this in my classroom, I’m not there this year with my students.

    The more I’m away from LHS the better I understand the importance of teamwork and purposeful culture building in a school. All LHS adults contributed to your harmonious classroom, but you were the most important one. Your students will in turn be that much more harmonious in other classrooms. Now they understand what a class should be like and how good it feels.

    Your vignette just jacked my expectations of myself and my students back up. I appreciate the boost. While I’m not in the building anymore, I call upon my LHS days constantly to remind me that mediocre is not acceptable and excellence is not impossible.

    Keep it going Mark!

  3. Mark Isero

    I like your comments, Beth and Chris. There’s something about how LHS teaches the Socratic that is pretty special. The students really take care of each other. I’ve found that I’m at my best as a teacher when I’m out of their way.

Please share your brilliant insights!