Yesterday, on the National Public Radio, I learned that Harriet Ball, one of America's most beloved educators died earlier this month from a heart attack. The radio program inspired me to learn more about her and her pioneering techniques and I wanted to share a bit of her inspiration.
First of all, Harriet was one of those educators (like many of you that we recruit to work with Classroom Canada) who was passionate not only about teaching, but also about the children she taught. She truly believed that everyone can learn and succeed if given the chance.
Harriet also believed that children need to put their whole bodies into the learning process and not be expected to sit behind a desk for long periods of time. Indeed, Harriet advocated what many exceptional teachers already know, you must differentiate your teaching and incorporate a wide variety of activities to accommodate different learning styles - visual, auditory, kinesthetic.
Harriet felt that teachers must meet children at their levels and bring the kids' interests into the lessons. She embodied this idea through her innovative math lessons where she frequently incorporated lyrics from popular rap and hip hop music that the children knew already in order to teach measurements, multiplication tables, and geometry.
Apparently, Harriet's magnetism and energy, not to mention her height, was often intimidating to fellow teachers. She danced around her classroom, singing and chanting math equations with her students. She remarked that her teaching was often described as "out-of-the box, different, too loud and very effective."
Harriet taught eight hours every day with the freshness and enthusiasm as if it was her first day.
To see Harriet in action, watch this 3:28 CBS News video, which also highlights her impact on KIPP: www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=616107n&tag=related;photovideo
Thirty-one charter schools in the United States now use Harriet's techniques. These KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) schools have allowed many low-income students around the U.S. a chance to succeed. She often said "it's never too late for a child to learn. The kids you think can't learn - CAN!"
For a short video on the KIPP schools, see below:
All of you out there teaching, keep up the good work and carry on Harriet's legacy. I'll end this post with another of her quotes, that I think many of you also believe:
"Teaching - it's a JOY!"
So get out there....and ENJOY!
And send us your resume if you are interested in teaching with Classroom Canada in our inner city London schools. We are currently recruiting for positions beginning in September/October 2011.