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About Learning for Real

As a teacher with 28 years of experience, Mary Ruth McGinn has always sought innovative ways to meet the needs of each of her students. She has spent her entire career in schools where a majority of students speak English as a second language and where poverty significantly impacts the... Read more

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The Mask

The Mask

The MaskThe first day of school beckons an intriguing metaphor, one that will pique the curiosity, create enthusiasm for learning, and open doors to discovering a new way of being in the classroom. A Venetian mask rests in a wrapped box, waiting to be revealed as a gift to begin the New Year. When opened, the students pass it around the circle admiring its beauty and mystique. Then I pose the question, “How will the mask help us in our learning this year?” Many students stare at me and at the mask, bewildered by the question. I assure them there is no wrong answer. They move to their desks to respond in writing.

As we gather to share, one by one they offer their responses, but not everyone chooses to read his thoughts aloud. As I read the responses of those who remained silent, one leaves me speechless. Thanks to you, Jasmine, we now have a profound metaphor to guide us through the year.

Jasmine re mask (2)

“It can help us. Every time we look at it, we remember to not be scared, to not hide under the shadow, like me. But, so, well . . . be like the feathers and be whatever you want to be.”

Mary Ruth McGinn

About Mary Ruth McGinn

As a teacher with 28 years of experience, Mary Ruth McGinn has always sought innovative ways to meet the needs of each of her students. She has spent her entire career in schools where a majority of students speak English as a second language and where poverty significantly impacts the learning experiences and opportunities of students and their families. Fifteen years ago she had an experience that changed her life and altered her professional path in a profound way. She attended training sessions at The Metropolitan Opera Guild in New York City, spent nine intense days living the process of creating an original opera and learned how to replicate the experience with her students. She then began creating opera with her students and using the process of creating the opera as a vehicle through which to teach curriculum and life skills. The authentic purpose for learning coupled with the arts provided the perfect stage on which to construct a love for life-long learning. She currently teaches at Stedwick Elementary School in Montgomery Village, Maryland where she is creating another original opera with her third grade students. Read more of Mary Ruth's blog Learning for Real.

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