Alison Mason: Embracing a loud classroom
Alison Mason of Lake Elementary School remembers vividly when her passion for school began: fifth grade. From then on, the desire to be a teacher never went away. While most children want to spend their free time away from school, helping her fifth-grade teacher move classrooms was young Alison’s “best summer ever.”
The classroom was a natural fit for Alison Mason. The community, the curiosity, and the relationships always enthralled her. The classroom, according to Alison, always made her feel capable and curious. The curiosity hasn’t subsided. “I try to elicit feedback,” Allison says. Feedback from her admin and school families is something that she looks for always so that, “the objectives that [she has] are really being followed through.”
Alison is highly interested in professional development, trying to stay aware of what’s new in education while balancing the traditions of what have always worked in the classroom. One of those long-standing important traditions is building relationships. Alison puts a premium on establishing a relationship with her class, connecting with her junior high school students. “I feel it’s really important to build relationships with them […] I want them to know this classroom is a safe place to make mistakes,” Alison says. “Until you have relationships with your students, it’s very difficult to attend to the academic piece.”
If you were to walk into Alison’s classroom, you might be surprised by the level of noise inside, but there’s a reason for that. “I think there’s a strong misconception that a quiet classroom means that everyone is on task and everyone’s learning,” Alison says. She quickly found that that line of logic was rarely true and found the research to back that up. “I want kids to be learning in a whole class setting,” she says. The noise is focused though. If you listen closely, Alison says, the noise isn’t “mindless chatter.”
While not every day looks the same, routine is important in Alison’s classroom. She understands that not every day will be perfect, and students have their good and bad days. However, even in a loud and sometimes chaotic classroom, there’s a strong structure of learning just under the surface.