This Is Our Story: The Maples of A125

Posted on July 19, 2015


June 2014

It’s 12:35 on my 3rd day of summer break. I’m at school. I’m interviewing students, listening, trying to find out what kind of experiences they’ve had in my classroom, looking back at twenty years of teaching Adrian Maples. I’ve decided to start writing about it–a memoir–in parts–on a blog.

I am so happy to have this opportunity to talk to students and listen to what they have to say. As I start this process, I don’t know how this memoir/blog will come together, but I know that I want to tell the stories that will let readers see what happens in Room A125.

At the end of my interview with Johnny, I’m talking about the excitement and anxiety I feel about taking on this project, but also the trust I have in the process. He says, “I feel like there are a bunch of different formats for writing a memoir, too.”

“And, of course, I want to make it multi-genre and multi-voiced, to have it be like the teaching experience has been for me,” I say. “A lot of times people think that as the teacher, I’m directing everything, but really, the way I set up class is that I set up situations that will allow them to learn without me telling them.” I have made it a priority to make the classroom a safe place for all students, all perspectives, where everyone can learn from each other.

“Exactly,” he responds, then continues, “On Tuesday, they had that workshop in the cafeteria, and it was discussing the modern teacher….and what you just described is what they want the modern teacher to be, setting up instances to where people can learn, which is cool, and what it felt like in your classes, in all of the classes I took with you.”

IB Literature 2013I’m trying to find out what students take away with them when a class is over. I’m trying to connect the past, the present, and the future Maples to one another. In IB Literature, we read Annie Dillard’s For the Time Being. In her personal narrative, Dillard focuses on Chinese Emperor Qin’s terra cotta army, and readers recognize the common human desire for immortality. I have not ruled a nation, nor have I created an army to protect me in the afterlife, but I’ve spent over two decades mentoring young people, and it is my investment in this army of thinkers that will be my legacy.

What stories can we tell that could give readers a taste of what happens in Room A125? What are some of the victories? Some of the defeats? Some of the struggles? Why does it matter?

By collaborating with current and former students, teachers, and colleagues,  I want to bring readers into the classroom community so that they can see the wonder, the struggle, the pain, and the joy of a learning community where students become empowered readers, writers, speakers, listeners, researchers, and citizens. This isn’t my story; this is our story.

In an era when teachers’ voices are being silenced by corporate reformers with little knowledge or experience in education, it is time to raise my voice. I think it is truly critical now for me and teachers like me to stand up for humane educational practices that honor the humanity of every student in the classroom. Our children are more than test scores, and they deserve an education that allows them to develop their skills and talents in ways that are appropriate for them. When it comes to education, one size does not fit all, and this blog will be an exploration and celebration of diversity, individuality, and expression that comes from a student-centered, inquiry-based classroom.