National Writing Project

Angela's Story—A Sample Chapter from Teaching Outside the Box But Inside the Standards

Publication: Teaching Outside the Box But Inside the Standards: Making Room for Dialogue
Date: December 30, 2015

Summary: See what dialogical, engaged learning looks like—for both teacher and student—in this chapter from Teaching Outside the Box But Inside the Standards.


Excerpt from Chapter

If we model our classrooms and schools after the loud squawking intercom voice that demands that students follow directions without question or hesitation, we shut down possibilities for open dialogue. Although dialogical classrooms are tension-filled spaces, and not necessarily about everyone seeing eye-to-eye, they promote growth for both teacher and student. Indeed, the tensions are necessary for that growth to take place. Dialogical classrooms are not passive environments where information is poured into the chute of our students' minds. Dialogical classrooms are not authoritative spaces where all adopt the teacher's agenda and those who do not comply are silenced. Instead, dialogical classrooms are spaces where learners and teacher actively engage in individual and collective meaning making.

I realize the immense amount of pressure teachers face in schools to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of mandates and standards. It would be easier to be the squawking intercom voice and move through the standards without pause. The concern is what it takes away from ourselves as professionals and from our students as learners if we opt for the latter approach. My fear is that growth will not happen and we cannot achieve the interchangeable roles as "teacher-students and students-teacher" as Freire challenges us to live within.

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