The second chapter is titled " Defining Beliefs and Aligning Practices" and this is a great place to go now that we have visualized and shared our perfect classroom. In this chapter, Debbie Miller discusses the importance of developing and in turn defining our educational beliefs because "when teachers have a set of beliefs that guides our work, we know where we're going." I think we can all agree we have to know where we are heading with the understanding of the underlying goal of the path we have chosen. Ms. Miller continues through this chapter talking about aligning our educational practices with our beliefs once we have established what those are. Ms. Miller suggests in this chapter to take 15 minutes at the end of each day and journal about our beliefs and practices. Personally, I know I am not good at sticking with this but I do often find myself reflecting on these exact things on my 20 minute ride home. So, maybe I need a tape recorder instead of a journal! The point she wants us to take away is asking ourselves "What do I value?" The author points out that it was the "process of defining and aligning that made all the difference" in her classroom and teaching. Ms. Miller poses some great questions that I am going to put out there for you to answer:
1. What are your beliefs about education and teaching in the classroom?
2. Where's the evidence of your beliefs in your classroom?
3. What kinds of things should you or do you see, hear, and do to support your beliefs?
4. Where do your educational practices fit into what you value?
I challenge you if you have not already to take a few moments to think about what beliefs you have and then decide if you have aligned your practices with your beliefs. I will leave you with what Ms. Miller often found when her beliefs and practices were at odds. "I had to make tough decisions. Would I change the belief statement or the practice? More often than not, it was the practice that was out of sync. I discovered that even though I'd say I believed in something, I'd find myself doing things, and asking kids to do things, that had me scratching my head."