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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Visitors in the room

I am working on a theory for a new way for kids to learn more. Part of the problem right now is that many of my kids just don't listen to me. I'm imparting great wisdom to them, but they are too occupied with pencil shavings in their desk, microscopic bugs out in the hallway, etc.

However, any time another teacher walks into the room and has a quiet conversation with me at the back of the classroom, it's like the old E.F. Hutton commercial, where everybody listens. So I'm thinking that at the beginning of each week, I ought to get one of the other teachers to walk in, ask me if they can have a moment of my time, and then whisper things to me like, "To find the area of a rectangle, you need to multiply the top times the side," or "If you see the words, 'how many more' in a question, you should always subtract."

Maybe THEN the kids will actually learn these concepts!!!

Actually, I'm just incredibly tired of the way my kids completely forget about me any time somebody walks in or out of our room. Throughout the year, we have gone over the visitor procedure many many times. When a visitor walks into the room, they are supposed to completely ignore the visitor and continue doing whatever it was they were already doing. Only if that visitor specifically talks to them are they to pay any attention to that person.

In practice, the complete opposite happens. When somebody walks into the room, the kids all swivel around in their chairs and stare the person down. I have a lot of kids coming and going to and from various tutoring groups throughout the day, and when they leave my class or come back into my class, I never have the full attention of my kids. It is incredibly aggravating.

I think that next year, around the second or third week of school, I will run a visitor drill. I don't see why not -- we have to go through fire drills, evacuation drills, tornado drills, crisis drills, and so on. My visitor drill would go like this:

I would give the kids an assignment and tell them they had 10 minutes to complete it. I would make it very clear that at the end of 10 minutes, I would be giving them a grade based on how much of the assignment they had completed correctly. I would then tell them to begin. Three minutes later, I would have another teacher come into my classroom and talk to me for approximately 7 minutes. The teacher would then leave, and I would collect the papers.

I would expect that about 60% of my class would have roughly 3 minutes worth of work done, and that they would have spent the last seven minutes watching and/or listening to the teachers in the back of the room.

Perhaps receiving a failing grade for eavesdropping instead of working would set their mind right about that in the future.

Just an idea. What do you think?


IMC Guy said...

I think you shouldn't wait until next year to have this drill. Give it a whirl now and see what happens. Good idea.

100 Farmers said...

I wish I had written this post. Brilliant. One of my major pet peaves. I do have to admit I do enjoy the tension in the air when an aide walks in with the tell-tale discipline request note from the office. Whose head will roll? Bwahahahah.

Joel said...

I've been tempted to pay some random guy $5 just to walk in on an important lesson and just stand there in the back of the room dressed in a suit.

Kids seem to sit up straighter when they think it might be important.

kristyKHS said...

I'm fortunate enough (in this respect) to teach high school-- by the time I get them, my students have been trained not only to ignore visitors, but to fold their hands, sit up straight, and act as though every word of my lecture was directions to find and unearth Blackbeard's lost booty. Thanks, elementary teachers!