This picture shows great teaching in a couple of ways. First, it is about collaboration. Seven third grade classrooms got together to create one “bulletin board” in the hallway. Each class works together to update it each month. Also, for the month displayed in this picture, the students had just read the book “Because of Winn Dixie” and were extending their learning. In the book, Miss Frannie has a “bottle tree” where she hangs up bottles, which she calls her ghosts, to remind her of the mistakes she has made in her life. Our students wanted to create their own bottles. On one side they wrote something good that they’ve done for someone else that they always want to remember and that they are proud of. On the other side they wrote about something they did that hurt someone that they wished they could take back. The emotional connection that such young kids made with this book and displayed in this project was incredible, and it showed good teaching. I got into a debate with a friend recently about banned books and my argument was that no books should be banned because teachers can be trusted to handle difficult emotional subjects with sensitivity and guide discussions appropriately and that kids today experience much more than most adults can imagine and can handle more than we think. Good teachers understand that and make emotional connections with their students so that they are willing to open up to them and they create a non-judgmental culture where students are not afraid to be themselves and trust each other. This picture showed that our third grade team has done that and are great teachers.