Letting Go

Letting Go

I realized that at the end of this past school year that it was time to let go of my red chair. My red chair, which I inherited, 16 years ago, when I moved from first grade to fifth, has been with me from classroom to classroom; been with me from grade to grade. The chair with nicks, scrapes and duct tape on the arms to keep in the stuffing, is no longer appropriate for a renovated classroom. The time for improvement has arrived.

As I contemplate the layout of my “new” classroom, I also contemplate the “new” way I will engage my students. Although I have been successful with some students, I know that I have not been as successful with others.

My red chair has been as a constant a presence in my classroom as the daily schedules on the door and the student objectives on the board. Organizing my instructional delivery has become second nature. But, as with my chair, it is time to change my furniture.

I am piloting a blended learning math camp this summer at a neighborhood recreation center. Our camp is structured around a station rotation model. One of my students “Nina”, a shy upcoming fourth grader, has found her voice. Her mother says Nina no longer feels dumb. Another student, “Jashay”, who’s proficient in math, feels proud that she has moved to another level on the computer. She is finally working on something hard, although she complained about the hard work at first.
Once a week, I review data online and reassign some of the students to a different rotation with activities personalized for each of them. What I’m doing this summer prepares me for what I must implement for each and every student this coming school year.

Although it may be an adjustment to not have my old and comfortable red chair at the beginning of next school year, I look forward to the change. As an Education Innovation Fellow, I have gained valuable insight this year about utilizing blended learning. I know facilitating a blended learning classroom will eventually become as comfortable to me as my old red chair.

Leo Tolstoy wrote:

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

Are you ready for change? Are you ready to give up your red chair?

Written by Valyncia Hawkins

Valyncia Hawkins

Education Innovation Fellow. 5th Grade Math teacher, Anne Beers Elementary School.


  1. This is great. You continue to blaze the trailof learning. I look forward to seeing your students video on yournblog. Keep up the great work with and for our students.

  2. Love this! We’re so happy to have true pioneers like you in DCPS.

  3. Many of us have a “red chair” to which we have become attached. I applaud your intiative to find new ways to engage your students. Blended learning is hard work and you have become a leader and mentor for teachers taking the leap.

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