Whose room is it?

“Do you ever feel like every time you walk into school a little piece of you is taken away, and when you leave school you don’t get it back?  CJ (student)

Go ahead and answer this questions — Whose room do you work in? To whom does it belong?

Now fill in the blanks with the best answer:

1- _______ classroom is a special place.

  1. My
  2. Our

2. ______ have control of the learning.

A. I

B. Students

3. ______ have responsibility for developing units of learning

  1. I
  2. Students

Steve Moore in a recent post had a single line that prompted this post. He wrote “I feel as though it is my school.” How many students feel as though it is “their school?” How many teachers? I bet if you made one graph showing students’ grades, and another showing the answer to the question “Do you feel as though it is your school?” the two graphs would match.

How do you empower students? How do you give them control? What are they responsible for? How do you give them responsibility?

What can they do that you haven’t already decided for them? What choices can they make that are authentic, and not you giving them two options for presenting material with a checklist that you made. Can they handle the power of making decisions? Does your school encourage students taking control, or does it encourage controlling students?

Can you imagine being told what to do for almost every minute each day?

  1. Wake up now
  2. Get on the bus now
  3. Stay on bus until 7:50am
  4. Go to homeroom
  5. Don’t stop to talk to friend in hallway
  6. Go to class now
  7. Take out the book
  8. Turn to this page
  9. Answer those questions
  10. Each question answered like this
  11. Leave class now
  12. Repeat 6 through 12 three more times.
  13. Go to lunch now.
  14. Finish eating now
  15. Repeat 6-12 three more times
  16. Go home now
  17. Take out book to do homework
  18. Turn to this page
  19. Answer those questions
  20. Each question answered like this
  21. Pass in homework on due date given to you
  22. Repeat 1-21 180 times during 10 months each year

If you knew you had the future President of the United States in your school is that the program you would want her to follow in preparation for leading our country?

Phillip the II once went to Alexander the Great’s teacher and said “strive to make yourself useless.” That is my goal each year.  I strive to make myself useless.  Slowly empower your students so that on the last day of school when you ask them “Whose room is this?”  They will answer,  “it is my room.”


  1. I really like this post, because it is really my day at school. In the hall is really th only time that no one is telling us what to do and even then we are told what to do. I start to get sick of doing the same thing in school EVERY day, i try my best to make the day different from all the rest but we are really yelled at because we did not listen to the teacher. What i hate the most is that even at lunch we have to ask to visit a lunch table and we have 2 minutes at that table, I HATE THAT. I hate how all the teachers and everyone tells us we have to be responsible but they wont even let us go to the bathroom without signing out and taking a pass. I hate how the only thing we can be responsible for is our homework and even then we are told what to do and how to do it.

    I wish that just one day the teachers would walk into the class room and say “do a project on what ever interests you and you can have partners or groups, we will present them next week.”

    I really do love this post because it is SO TRUE 🙂

    🙂 Karen 🙂

  2. Wow, great post! I am Marnie, a 6th grader from Indiana, and that is how my day goes too! However this year some of the sixth graders got laptops to experiment with new ways of learning, but that list is accurate in a different way, although it sounds like past years more! Thanks for sharing.

    ~MS~ 🙂


  3. @ Paul
    If we are teaching students to think we might as well give them some choices. After all they’ll have to make them there whole lives. But then again for some school is more about teaching compliance than teaching thinking.

  4. How timely! My students and I were just having such a conversation today after the hall Nazi came in to see if I was teaching the prescribed lesson of the day (I am not kidding about this at all) on the new conduct referral form. Although we were supposed to spend 15 minutes on this subject, I had merely gone over it with my Academy seniors and moved on. They had work to do on projects, and they were all working when said Nazi peeked her head in.

    She was not happy with me. I was supposed to spend those 15 minutes berating my kids and their behavior. My kids behave very well and I don’t write conduct referrals. I handle most problems in class and if things get sticky, I call home.

    My students, after the Nazi visit, wanted to know why I should spend time telling them all of this when they were the good kids and the bad kids were the ones with poor grades and attendance. Why not round them up and yell at them? We had a good laugh about it and went back to work. It’s THEIR classroom.

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