Recently, looking for some ideas about how to be a good teacher, I stopped in to Jeannie's dance room to see what I could learn. It turned out that two 9th grader girls, as part of a project, were teaching a group of 2nd graders, so I stood in the corner and watched. Here's what I noticed that might help me in my own teaching:
1) I observed that the 2nd grade dancers were getting constant feedback on how they doing, something I guess we all strive for in our classes. Where was this feedback coming from? Well, from the 9th grade student-teachers, but also from the mirrors along the wall. The dancers constantly watched themselves in the mirrors as they went through their moves, and I thought I noticed them adjusting their moves as they watched. Instant and continuous feedback. It reminded me that I can do a much better job of providing a "feedback atmosphere" in my classroom. Perhaps I need some figurative "mirrors" of some type.
2) I also observed the "teamwork" atmosphere in the room. Everyone had a space on the floor, but they were constantly looking around to see where others were in relation to themselves, and to make sure everyone stayed evenly spaced. I wonder…could I do more about helping my students to "see where others were in relation to themselves" during English class -- during discussions, for example. Could discussions be thought of as "dances" of a sort? Something to think about…
3) Jeannie's students were teaching other students, and she was carefully taking notes on what was happening. It was obviously a great way for the 9th graders to learn some important skills, and it enabled Jeannie to learn some important things about them. Hmmm…perhaps I could do some of that kind of "student teaching" in 8th and 9th grade English. I was impressed to see how thoroughly the 9th grade girls seemed to be involved in what they were doing, something I would surely like to promote in my classes.