So part of what we do when we go into schools is demo in classrooms – it really helps to SHOW teachers what certain techniques look like with THEIR KIDS. Always a really fun and powerful practice…plus allows me to keep up my teaching chops!
When I go into classrooms, I don’t do a ton of prepping of the kids – – I think some of the most important “prep” (for management, engagement, explicit teaching, etc.) is done in front of the observers. Kind of a “real life, real kids” commitment that we have in the field.
So awhile back I was demonstrating a reading block in front of about 15 adults – teachers, principal, the reading coach and some interventionists. I had prepped them on what I wanted them to notice, what I wanted them to calculate, what I wanted them to reflect on as they observed the lesson.
Then I went into the classroom and got started with the kids (along with the 15 adults that filed in…it’s always quite a thing…take 1 minute, though, and the kids are back to normal and ignoring all the adults in tiny chairs in this case, sitting in the back of the room).
I talked to them about how I had heard that they were the best class in the school and how they were so great at following directions the first time and that I expected that everyone did the work…I taught them my signal for unison response…it’s all going really well!
It’s at this point that I’ll take a little jaunt to give you some back story…I had gone to Nordstrom the weekend before the demo and bought these GORGEOUS gray and black plaid wide-legged pants. I was wearing high heeled boots and a black turtleneck with big hoop earrings…I just KNEW I looked fly! Keep this in mind…
One of the rules that I taught the kids is that once we got rolling on the lesson and moving and grooving through our content, we wouldn’t need to ask to get a drink or go to the bathroom – NO! They were too busy for foolishness like that!
So this cute little guy (this was a 1st grade classroom) kept raising his hand during the lesson and I would give him a silent signal that we were working with our partners and doing all that good stuff so he should put his hand down.
His hand would go up…and stay up…
And I was modeling some classroom management techniques so I thought I would be really smart and say something like, “You know, Jonathan, I’m going to ask you to put your hand down because right now we’re not sharing out to the whole class, you’re brainstorming with your partner”…you know, real top-notch stuff like that…
His hand would go up after a second…and stay up…and now we’re like 20 minutes into the lesson and everything’s going really well and the teachers are nodding their heads like, “Yes! Look at her go!” and they’re writing stuff down furiously and even a couple of kids said, “This is fun!” and I was driving the kids hard and they were doing it and lightbulbs were turning on…
And the hand went up…and stayed up.
So I said this: “You know Jonathan, I’ve asked you to put your hand down and work with your partner right now, but you’re having trouble following my direction. What can I help you with quickly?”
And he says, “Miss Jackson? Why are you wearing man’s pants?”
And that, Ladies and Gents, is teaching gold.