Teachers of NCCAT - Regina DeCristofaro Chatham Middle School Chatham County | NCCAT

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Teachers of NCCAT - Regina DeCristofaro Chatham Middle School Chatham County

Growing up in the 60s and 70s had its good points and bad. I remember summers where my mom would tell me to go out and play and be home before the streetlights came on at night. We would be gone all day, no cell phones, parents knew we were safe and we would play outside all day long. We did not have video games, we made up games to play with our friends and occupied ourselves. Those are the good memories. 

I attended a private school from grades 1-8, and then went to a public high school. I was a good student but I was bored to tears every day. In elementary and middle school, I sat at a desk...all day...with textbooks, notebooks and with a teacher at the front of the class. The only time I got out of my seat was for lunch time, art class and recess. There I sat, all day long. In high school it was much of the same except I got to move to a different classroom 6 times a day. We carried our textbooks home to do homework each night....in every subject. Those were the bad memories.

Fast forward to 1996 when my first born son entered kindergarten. I dreaded life for him in school because he was such a curious kid, I did not want him to be bored and miserable like I was. Kindergarten and first grade were great years for him. Lots of hands on learning and movement. Second grade transitioned more into that desk...books and the teacher in front of the room. Third grade, more of the same and boredom began to set in for him.

It was then I decided to teach and make a difference. I was going to teach...without the books...without the desks. I applied for my first teaching position and was given a fourth grade class. I immediately requested tables for my classroom. Students were going to sit in cooperative groups and learn together. Textbooks were used at a minimum and my students moved around the room all day long. I was determined to make sure that my students were not bored. Hands-on learning was the key. My principal agreed to let me do a field trip every month. These trips ranged from panning for rocks and minerals to supplement my science unit to an overnight trip to the beach to supplement the social studies curriculum of North Carolina history.

Nineteen years later, I am now teaching middle school, still with tables in my room, collaborative learning groups and hands on activities. The textbooks I was issued sat on the counter in the corner all year long. Students did not touch them unless they wanted to.

I often think about my years as a child in the classroom and that desk that was attached to the chair...the chair I sat in day after day and I vow to never have my students feel stifled in my classroom.

Regina DeCristofaro

Chatham Middle School

Chatham County

 

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