Thursday, September 11, 2014

Reflective Teacher Day 11: My favorite part of the day.....

It's the in between times.....

When I saw this prompt this morning, it really made me think of what is the favorite part. So I have come up with what I call the in between times: short little interaction times with students and staff that are not necessarily the structured part of the school day.

I like to be in the hallway in between class periods ( between!). I do this not because I have to, but because those 5 minute bursts are the best time to interact with students in a non-teacher kind of way. There is no pressure there, no "I am the teacher" and "you are the student" kind of pressure or dichotomy. I can see students that I had last year, joke with students and if my presence helps to make the building a friendly or safer environment, well then bonus points! It is a great way to start a class by interacting in a positive way with students before they enter the classroom too. Even a simple hello can help break the ice and build that rapport with students that is so key in teaching. I also use it as a way to remember their names too. I know some do a handshake but I prefer a fist bump, high five or a bow. (Even AP seniors still respond to that!) I always felt that this kind of interaction was so productive that it is silly that we do that at the door and then revert to the teacher--student dichotomy once you pass the threshold of the door. What would your class look like if you could have this back and forth, easy going, non-threatening conversation with the actual material in class? I think I have found a way to bring that to the classroom.
     After reading Mark Barnes great book Role Reversal, I realized that I have been slowly taking myself from in front of the classroom and moving towards the model he has described in his book. Less me, more them. Semester long project. More direct and meaningful feedback. Those conversations at the door and in the hallway were now appearing in my classroom about content. Sure. Sure. Some of the conversations were about video games or zombies, but always with the end goal of starting and improving that relationship with students. Now those in between times were happening daily every period in all of my classes. I was having those in between conversations with every student in my class every day in all five classes. I was unbelievably tired. My legs hurt. I never sat down. I was logged out of Infinite Campus because I had not been active on the computer for more than 60 minutes. What was going on here?
     Those in between moments became my teaching. I have had more one on one conversations in the past 4 weeks than I had ALL of last year. (Not afraid to admit that) Yes there are days when I am tired and don't want to do that in between time for class, but I do. I force myself to do it. I have seen excellent work so far. All five classes have done some amazing work with their 20 Time semester long project. We have our pitch proposals tomorrow and I am excited to see the feedback the students get. I know my students better so far at this point too. Is it perfect? No. Can I make improvements? Certainly. But even after 20 years I am amazed at what I don't know. Or better, maybe I have known much of the benefit of the in between time with students but was unable to organize it and make it work in a classroom setting. Maybe I am headed in that direction. So now my favorite part of the day is now every single minute in the classroom. 48 minutes worth 5 times a day. The period flies by and we have great conversations.

***A side note: my pod seating arrangement has sustained the movement of 8 classes a day for 4 weeks and has NOT been messed up hardly at all. It is the ONLY arrangement I have made in 20 years that has not turned to chaos in less than a week. Hmmmm.......***


  1. Wow! I overlooked this part of the day but I agree as well. I do like to be in the hallway and you're right. It's a different kind of interaction and it sometimes can make all the difference.

  2. This is my style, as well. Making genuine connections with students, and putting myself in learner mode makes a huge difference in my classroom.