This question comes from Lisa in South Dakota: One of my colleagues has asked me for help in bringing the Oomph back to her teaching. This teacher explained to me that most of her daily routines (templates, vocabulary, discussion questions, etc.) are now on her Smartboard, so she feels she has become robotic with routines. Where do I start in helping her get recharged and excited about teaching reading? What do I look for when I spend time with her during her reading block? I have asked her to start reflecting about what typically goes wrong during her block, or at what point does she think she loses the students, or whether there are parts of the lesson where she is bored and that’s rubbing off on the kids. Please help me find a good direction in helping this teacher!

Here was my response to Lisa: Thanks for your question…here’s where I’d start: videotape her and then sit down and get a “baseline” of where she currently is. Have her teach “business as usual” in the video (not doing anything fancy that she wouldn’t do on an ordinary day) and then sit down with her AFTER you have both viewed the video separately. This will allow you to calibrate what she’s feeling and what you’re seeing. Then watch the video together and comment and discuss what went well, what needs adjustment and what needs to be discussed in future talks. Discuss the areas (Management? Engagement? Pacing? Fun Factor?) that she sees as robotic and then set out to brainstorm together how she’ll fix it. Give her a week to implement a couple of ideas (I try to keep it at two ideas to implement maximum) and then get back in there and videotape again. Then get together and discuss the “before” and after.” The goal is to help this teacher see that SHE has FULL CONTROL over the robotic nature – it’s all in the palm of her hands.

The great news is, that if this teacher is reflective enough to realize that she’s getting robotic, she’s likely to be reflective enough to see what she can improve upon and take the bull by the horns! Keep us posted, Lisa!