Here’s more about this week’s featured classroom:
Teacher: Kali Gorbach
School: West Michigan Academy of Arts and Academics
What makes your classroom special? I think what makes our classroom so special are the students that fill it – each of them being compassionate, kind, and eager to learn. We are like a family – a community of learners that embrace and learn from one another. We constantly ask questions, and make academics applicable to real-life situations. We have created classroom environment where it’s evident that mistakes are embraced, being a necessary and essential component of the learning process. Without mistakes, growth and development are non-existent.
In addition to the curriculum, what are some things you teach your students? Aside from curriculum, my hope is to teach my students to embrace their individuality. I want them to understand that they each have unique and brilliant qualities to offer the world in which we live—and I try to help them discover and foster that confidence in themselves. Not only do we embrace our own individuality, but also the acceptance of differences among our classmates. Our differences truly make life more vibrant and colorful – life would be boring if we all had the same opinions, dressed alike, and enjoyed the same activities. Within the classroom, we encompass diverse learning styles of students, evident in the multitude of ways standards are taught on any given day: accommodating tactile, visual, and auditory learners.
What special project is your classroom working on now? We value art integration here at WMAAA and currently, our class is completing a biography project to be presented during our Festival of The Arts Week later this month. The students have chosen someone who has made a significant contribution to the world — and are becoming experts on the life of that person: writing an expository piece during our Language Arts block, creating a timeline of events during our Social Studies block, painting portraits during their visual arts rotation, and preparing oral presentations during their Drama rotation. What is so special about this school, and this project, is the significant way in which the arts teachers collaborate with general education teachers, to incorporate the standards being taught in our classrooms, contributing to the accommodation and of diverse learners.
How is your classroom involved with the community? WMAAA is involved with the community in various ways, another aspect that makes our school so special. Most recently, our class is teaming up with the American Heart Association to raise money for children born with congenital heart defects. Along with contributing to such a wonderful organization, we are implementing healthy heart habits in our own lives, through nutrition and exercise. Being a child born with a congenital heart defect myself, and having a student born with a heart defect, participation in this fundraiser has been extremely personal and special for our class. I am amazed everyday by the compassion of my students.
How do you hope what your students are learning now will affect their future? I hope that at the end of the year, more important than the academics learned, my students feel empowered. I want them to value their own worth, recognizing that they are important and have something unique and special to offer the community, and more importantly, the ability the change the world.