Words are Gifts

Celebrating the Third Teacher

After their student led conference, students in my class had a choice of activities to complete with their parents or present to them. As a non-participant of this event I was able to observe at the side. It was quite an assessment for me. I made myself busy marking Math papers, planning the next steps, but I could not resist the urge to look up. My inquisitive self made be listen into the conversations and interactions.

Soon enough, a student came close to me was telling parents about their, ‘third teacher.’ I learned about this  years ago when I visited Reggio Emilia. The importance of the third teacher in my book cannot be down played.

At a fifth grade assembly this week, students shared the learning that goes on in their class. The performance or exposé clearly put together by the students celebrated a ‘Me space’ or ‘Me wall’ for each of the students the exists in their class.  Our third teacher is our classroom environment and the walls, from which we learn or with which we have developed our learning. Some of them from our mini-lessons, displays of our learning, books, models or anything the students and teachers deem applicable to the teaching and learning taking place. That is my understanding of the third teacher.

That is why I keep mine current and make sure I de-clutter as we gain new learning, replacing the old with reminders of the exact topics and guides needed for students to be successful. A couple of students cleverly incorporated sharing the information displayed with that of their portfolio pieces. As an observer I was proud of my students’ explanation of their learning, to their parents, from a variety of media.





10 responses to “Celebrating the Third Teacher”

  1. I LOVE this! This year each of my students has their own display space too- they decide what faces out. I know I could make it a lot neater, but it feels authentic. Our student led conferences are at the end of April and I wonder how our third teacher will be included.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great opportunity for students to reflect on and share their learning with parents! I wish we held student-led conferences at my school. We used to hold them in another school I worked in, and like you, I would always feel so curious about what the students would say.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s really amazing Lanny. Would 100% recommend holding them and carving out time. Juliette’s my teammate and we’re constantly amazed at how well the kids do.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This is fantastic! Student-led activities truly lead to some amazing results. The third teacher… how awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Celebrating the student-led conferences. The learners showed that they owned their learning. Great that they had the environment as one support. We had our conferences on Thursday. I enjoyed watching and eavesdropping.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the idea of the third teacher. The fact that your students are aware of this is even more exciting. Your desire to apply new learning constantly into the context of your classroom is now reflected in your students.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have never heard of the third teacher, but I love it. What a great way to describe our classroom environment. If I think of it in this way, I will also be more inclined to make sure that the walls reflect our current learning. Now… dare I ask who the second teacher is? Our peers? Ourselves?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The first teachers are our parents or family, the second classroom teachers and the third the learning environment. Reggio Emilia has a very great philosophy, worth reading about.


  7. I have never heard of display space being referred to as the third teacher. Love it. It is so true that what is displayed showcases and enhances the learning that takes pace within the classroom.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Love this J, the Third Teacher is an awesome way to consider the power of the classroom environment.

    Almost there, let’s celebrate this week!

    Liked by 1 person

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About Me

I am am Elementary school teacher at an International IB School in Accra, Ghana, West Africa. I write with groups of writers, such as Teach Write.


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