Each student received a shiny penny as they walked through my classroom door. When seated they were asked, “What do you have?” Few were impressed. Penny Candy no longer impresses. It might not exist. An individual penny cannot buy much. Yet pose another question and the meaningfulness of that penny is far different. “What do we have if we pool all of our pennies together?” I ask.
True change happens when individuals come together. You see that is what an American classroom offers in the twenty-first century. A classroom is not just a collection of individual students. Rather taken together, real change can and must take place at many different levels in today’s classrooms. That is why I often see my classroom as Penny Lane.
“Penny Lane” was one of the Beatles greatest singles. It was a song written by Paul McCartney about a Liverpool bus terminus that he and John Lennon would often meet as they headed downtown. Penny Lane is where their lives changed, literally. The bus terminus at Penny Lane is where they left their “suburban blue skies.” Penny Lane is where Paul and John experienced the people and events they made music about. “Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes.” Change only occurs when and if we are willing to listen and look at what is going on around us.
Listen and look, so much is going on around us that make for new and dynamic classrooms. Yet too often we treat that new student like just another penny that walked into our daily lives. My suggestion is to see each classroom for what it really is – collective potential for real change.
Change the way you teach. Change the way students learn. Change. Change. Change. One thing is for sure; that bus will leave the station whether or not you are on it. Join me this year as we explore ways to change course. Join me in Penny Lane.
Change is “in my ears and in my eyes.” Don’t fight it. Let it be.