The Teacher You Want to Be: Katie Ray on the Release of Responsibility

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The teaching on this first day, and in particular the decision to have children take complete responsibility for their own bookmaking, is deeply theoretical, as Abbie, Jaxon, and Heidi begin living in the “figured world” (Holland et al. 1998) of Lisa’s classroom. This world is “a socially and culturally constructed realm of interpretation in which particular characters and actors are recognized, significance is assigned to certain acts, and particular outcomes are valued over others” (52). First, I’d like to focus on the idea that this figured world is constructed and consider how it is that the immediate release of responsibility is the rock-bottom foundation of this construction. How does giving children complete control of their own decision making position them in important ways as bookmakers on this first day and across the year? And perhaps even more importantly, how are children helped to understand how to be in this figured world and what their actions mean to their identities?

To begin, let’s look at the teaching that happens before Abbie, Jaxon, Heidi, and their classmates go out and start making books on this first day.

—Katie Ray

The Teacher You Want To Be: Essays About Children, Learning, and Teaching, edited by Matt Glover and Ellin Oliver Keene, is out now.

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