Corelaborate: Channeling Mr. Rogers

I started this school year with a master teacher whispering in my ear.  We all have teachers we remember for their lasting impact on us. We find ourselves emulating their voice, channeling their spirit. I was recently inspired by a documentary about Fred Rogers which brought up all sorts of old associations for me.  I am currently speaking with a softer voice, smiling more, and being very honest with my students. Hoping to demonstrate just how masterful a teacher he was and how he continues to inspire me, I organized this post based on Charlotte Danielson’s ENHANCING PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE: A FRAMEWORK FOR TEACHING.  Specifically, I am focusing on Domain 2: The Classroom Environment.

My front door

My front door

Component 2a: Creating an Environment of Respect and Rapport

Mr. Rogers was always a model of respect.  He never talked down to kids. He treated kids as people who could understand things – they just had to have things properly explained.  He talked about divorce, death, art, music… all kinds of deep and important subjects. If a student wants to talk to me about a divorce or death in their family, I don’t shy away from the topic, though I may ask their permission to involve the counsellor.  Also, if a kid isn’t understanding something, I try not to blame them and instead question how I can better explain things. Finally, in a previous post I wrote about how I respond to questions about my being a man who has a husband.


My aquarium

Component 2b: Establishing a Culture for Learning

The content of the show was always worthwhile.  He approached his material in two chief ways: directly with guest speakers and “field trips,” and indirectly through incorporating relevant topics into the story lines for his Neighborhood of Make-Believe.  I make sure the materials I use are of high quality, whether they be folk songs or songs we make up ourselves. I always approach material from as many directions as I can think of, catering to visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning needs.

My comfy shoes


Source: Yakima School District