ONE YEAR WITH AN ENGLISH TEACHER
Day 49, November 14, 2007
Today I again stepped back -- many times. (Maybe I'm beginning to be a fairly good "step-backer".) During our student-led literary discussions, there were so many times when I wanted to step forward and offer insights or clarifications -- times when I thought surely the students needed the help of their experienced literature teacher. But I didn't. I resisted the temptation to ignore what the students were trying to do in their discussion and charge into the midst and take over. Instead, I stepped back and just kept listening. And, lo and behold, in each case the students, within a minute or two, successfully clarified things for themselves and the conversation moved forward. I remember being surprised (though I shouldn’t have been, since it’s happened so often) that the students were able to make the discussion work without my assistance. Of course, I did occasionally offer suggestions and reminders about proper discussion behavior, but that was little different than a coach recommending strategies during a timeout. The coach doesn’t do the playing, and today I didn’t do the discussing. The students, like basketball players, worked together to make their own success as a team – while I stepped back and observed with great appreciation.