Educators and support professionals, like artists, start with a blank slate and create something beautiful and engaging – and along the way, they change lives.
Our blank slates aren’t quite the artist’s canvass. We start with empty classrooms and make them into dynamic centers of learning; we meet new students on the first day and find innovative ways to connect with them and build relationships; we craft lesson plans that capture students’ imaginations and enlighten them.
As I read over this issue of Voice, I was struck by how much creativity is on display across our Association.
Many of you shared photos in the weeks before school started as you got your schools and classrooms ready for students. Thank you. It’s so much fun to see your imaginations come to life, as you create learning environments full of the promise and potential of a new school year.
Check out some of these Classroom Close-up photos on the opposite page and find even more on PSEA’s Facebook page and www.psea.org.
Elsewhere in this issue, you can read about PSEA’s Innovative Teaching Grant awards to explore some of the clever ways that educators are engaging students in learning. From a hands-on Civil War history lab to learning through virtual and augmented reality, these educators are thinking outside the lesson plan.
Sometimes being creative means getting up and out of the classroom. In this issue, PSEA members share some of the creative ways they give their students brain breaks throughout the school day. Giving kids daily brain breaks promotes healthy learning environments. It gets them up and moving to get the wiggles out, and it’s a great way to get to know your students outside the structure of a lesson to see what makes them smile.
I also encourage you to read our compelling cover story about Lei Williams, a high school English as a Second Language teacher in the Eastern Lancaster County School District. At age 5, Lei was airlifted out of war-torn South Vietnam along with her younger sister. Lei shares how her amazing life journey led her to a career in teaching and how she uses those experiences to reach students in powerful and creative ways.
This past summer, PSEA was honored to showcase the creative talents of Pennsylvania students and their teachers with our biannual Fabric of Unionism Art Competition. The winners, also featured in this issue of Voice, created art that tells the story of the labor movement, the difference it has made to our nation, and its necessity for our future.
Creativity is alive and well in PSEA and in our public schools – thanks to you and your students. Foster that creative spirit now and throughout the school year. Often, our creative approaches are how we best connect with students and connect learning in the classroom to the real world. And that’s really what it’s all about.
Good luck with your new year and keep thinking outside the lesson plan.
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