ONE YEAR WITH AN ENGLISH TEACHER
Day 56, November 28, 2007
Today, as I continue to learn how to “coach” the students during literature discussions, I tried two new techniques. First, during the discussions I used post-it notes to offer comments or compliments to individual students. I quietly moved around the room, writing short notes and giving them to the students. One student was totally focused on each speaker, so I praised him for that in a note. To another student I wrote a note suggesting that she ask one of her classmates to clarify what he had said earlier in the discussion. It seemed to work quite well. I was able to communicate with the students without disrupting the discussion, and I think the kids enjoyed getting a private note from their teacher. The other new technique I tried was raising my hand and counting slowly on three fingers after each speaker came to a stop. This was to encourage the kids to allow a long pause after each speaker, mostly to make sure the speaker was entirely finished with his or her comment, but also to take in what the speaker had said. This, too, seemed to work quite well. It forced the class to enjoy that rare experience of being in a discussion where all participants have a chance to thoroughly finish what they wanted to say. In doing so, this technique also reinforced the atmosphere of politeness and dignity that I try to maintain in my classroom. I’m happy with the way these two methods worked today, and plan to refine them as the weeks pass.