A Classroom of Collectives

A Classroom of Collectives

Written by: Ryan Murray

August 25, 2023

On my way to drop my eight-year-old off at camp, we passed by a group of geese.  My son quickly exclaimed, “that’s a big gaggle of geese!”  Amused, I replied, “I wonder who first looked at a bunch of geese, and decided that a group of geese should be called a gaggle?”  What ensued was a rather long conversation about collective nouns.  Here are some of our favorites:

  • A flamboyance of flamingos
  • A tower of giraffes
  • A pandemonium of parrots
  • A conspiracy of lemurs
  • A prickle of porcupines

Some of them have clear ties to the animal, but not all collective nouns do.  I particularly like “a pandemonium of parrots.”  Being afraid of birds, the idea of being in a large group of parrots would undoubtedly seem like pandemonium to me.

Thinking about collective nouns, I began to wonder what someone might name groups of different people who we encounter within education.  Using a thesaurus, I began to set out to find the best words I could find to create these collective nouns. I should also note I love alliteration.  Let’s start with teachers.

A Tenacity of Teachers

Get a group of teachers together in the same room, and stuff is getting done.  It’s hard-wired into them to be the ones who want to push ahead and accomplish the task at hand.  Unfortunately (fortunately?), teaching is full of things.  There is ALWAYS something that complicates the process, and forces teachers to weather the storm and keep moving forward.  But move forward, they do.  Determination, persistence, and grit were also choices here, but tenacity won out for the alliteration factor.  Chutzpah was a close second.

“Get a group of teachers together in the same room, and stuff is getting done.”

An Availability of Administrators

A group of students examining a leaf picked from the school garden.
Photo by Allison Shelley for EDUimages

I have had the pleasure of working with/for some fantastic administrators.  While I understand not everyone has had the same experience, these are my collective nouns, and I want to share some positivity.

Administrators wear a lot of hats and are asked to appease a lot of people.  Knowing this, the best thing my administrators could do was just make themselves available to me.  Specifically, Marc Williams at Fall Creek Intermediate School was always available to help with a student, intervene with a parent, or just take over the class for five minutes so I could use the restroom.  While it may not always be the easiest thing, an available administrator is a game-changer.

A Cooperation of Instructional Assistants

Whatever you call this invaluable position (instructional assistant, teacher’s aide, parateacher, etc.), there is no denying the importance of their contributions to the classroom.  As is with any teaching position, the way we maximize our effectiveness, our time, and our knowledge is by partnering with those around us who bring expertise, understanding, and a positive attitude.  Teaching as a profession can be very isolating.  We spend most of our time as the only adult in the room.  The presence of another adult opens up many more possibilities for engagement, assistance, and idea generation.

“The way we maximize our effectiveness, our time, and our knowledge is by partnering with those around us who bring expertise, understanding, and a positive attitude.”

A ______________ of Students

I vacillated on this one. A LOT.  I think the reason is this particular collective noun could change on a daily basis, if not an hourly one.  It certainly changes year-to-year as we welcome new students into our rooms.  It changes as we learn new things about our students and learn new things about ourselves.  It changes after parent-teacher conferences.  It changes after a student moves away. It changes when that one student (you know which one) is out sick for the day.  It changes so much that trying to identify one based on your feelings is nearly impossible.

I leave you with this challenge.  Find your collective noun for the students you will be bringing into your classroom this year before you even meet them.  What do you WANT your students to be? Once you have decided, find some time at the beginning of the year to share it with them and let them know that you have high expectations for what they can be.

Just don’t pick pandemonium.



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  • Ryan Murray

    Ryan Murray has been working in education since 2010 with a consistent focus on mathematics, science, and integrated STEM. He is committed to the development of integrated STEM throughout Indiana schools by focusing on the intentional use of technology, issues of equity within the STEM pipeline, and providing access to inquiry for all learners.

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