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Rich Henderson's Diary
The First 180 Days


Rich Henderson, a lawyer, always dreamed of being a teacher. Last year, he gave up his law career and returned to the classroom to earn his teaching certification. This year, his dream finally comes true in a fifth-grade classroom in suburban Woodbury, Connecticut. Each week during this school year -- Rich's first year in the classroom -- he will share with Education World readers his thoughts and feelings about his first 180 days!

Rich's Diary: Everyone Is a Teacher!

Week 19

Who said education can't be fun and exciting? Over the past two weeks, I have been a witness to and a participant in several activities and assemblies. From Mozart to Native Americans, rocking chairs and books to artistic creations, Mitchell Elementary School has been alive with various educational presentations. Each presentation was unique in its approach but shared one vitally common element -- the reward of a lasting impression within the minds my 23 fifth graders. It was fun to watch that happen.

Mozart lives! I know that may be hard to believe, but it is true. Well, almost true. Even though Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died more than 200 years ago, his memory and music live on. That was the message this week during a performance by an actor and pianist. The performer vividly portrayed Mozart both in appearance -- wig and all -- and music. My students were engaged and engrossed to learn of the man and his music through the movement and melody of the performer. They listened and learned. It was a successful lesson.

Do you know what Native Americans did for fun? Well, my students not only now know but also participated in five authentic Native American games. Members of a local organization brought their extensive knowledge of Native American history to our fifth graders. It was an interactive lesson on how Native Americans played certain games and the history behind each one. The lesson was a great deal of fun.

What do rocking chairs and reading have to do with each other? A lot. This week is Rock and Read Week at Mitchell. During each moment of each school day this week, students will be reading a good book while sitting in designated rocking chairs. Sounds relaxing, doesn't it? But that's not all! Throughout the week, we have many activities that highlight reading. From having storytellers come to school to making our own books, the importance -- and fun -- of reading are spotlighted. My school is enveloped with the wonder of reading!

How would you like to spend two hours with an artist? That is what several students did last week. A talented artist spent an entire week at Mitchell, working with the students on various projects all while sharing her insights and creativity.

You don't have to be a teacher to teach. Everyone is a teacher, and everyone has a lesson to teach. These activities vividly illustrated that point. Yes, knowledge does indeed thrive within the confines of a classroom, but it also comes from sources outside of a classroom's four walls, if we are receptive to it. I believe the events of the past couple of weeks have reinforced that important notion. Reading, listening, creating, and playing are vessels to an abundance of knowledge. My job is to make sure that my students keep those vessels with them and fill them at every opportunity that they have.

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Rich Henderson
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