Apr 15, 2012
Comments Off on It’s Easy on Days Like These

It’s Easy on Days Like These

The other day was one of those days.

You know, one of those days where I marvel that I get paid for this gig.

My students wowed me with their engagement. From an on-fire class debate about political power, economic power and our inability to sometimes know the difference, to another class “bringing it” in a major way on their spoken word poems, rants and raps. I was left beaming.

And the thing is, I can take very little of the credit.

The success of the class wasn’t because I had worded the learning goal most precisely or scaffolded the learning in just such a way. The success of the class was precipitated by students making other students better.  They inquired, challenged, cajoled and supported each other. Exactly what learning should look like. The thing is, I have no doubt the teacher matters, but the teacher matters less when students are giving time, space and opportunity to learn.

I did my job flawlessly, on that day, as I got out of the way. I was able, by fluke most likely, to know when to shut up. I just observed, provided minimal feedback, and stopped acting like I needed to “manage” the classroom.  This doesn’t happen often, especially the shutting up part.

Is the flood of “classroom management” techniques inciting us into a winless cycle? Is good teaching the small, unnoticeable details that build confidence and not the noticed lesson plans and scaffolds?

When talking about student success, how do we move teachers away from the conversation about themselves?



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