There is a difference between being in the same place with a person and being with that person. Being
with someone means you are attentive to the other person. You are mindful of the person and the person in turn is attentive to and mindful of you. Being with someone means you are focused on him or her, not your never ending to-do list, email, Facebook, car repairs or what you're going to cook for dinner. Being with means sharing and doing together. Being with gives the gift of attention and presence to another.
It is sometimes challenging for teachers to be with their students. Sure, we are in the same vicinity as students everyday in our classrooms. Are really with them or are we engaging in parallel work: students are doing an assignment and we are too? Teachers need to take attendance, calculate grades, give feedback, respond to emails, plan lessons, create assessments--the list is never ending for classroom teachers. So how can we do what we need to get done when we have students most if not the entire day?
I've had three conversations about teachers sitting behind their desks this week, so I thought I'd take a
minute to brainstorm a few alternatives to sitting behind the desk.
1. Work the room. Instead of grading papers behind your desk, seat students in small groups and grade as you visit each group. As students work on a task, individually or collaboratively, stop by the group and listen in. Affirm, reteach or redirect the group then mark the papers for the group.
2. Make laps. If you have to grade or create lesson plans, set up a work space you can use while standing. Confer with students for ten minutes, then lap back to your standing work space for five. Make another monitoring lap for ten minutes or so, then back to your work station for another pass. Standing and moving to work is key here.
3. Deploy a device. Instead of staying tethered to your teacher computer, consider using a mobile device to complete daily tasks of taking attendance, recording grades or checking email. You can even turn your cell phone into a remote to control your desktop computer (Source Forge has your back on this one though you will have to dig in to the technical how-to in order to match make your machines). Access is an issue with this work around. Some schools are wall-to-wall wireless; others are not. Some schools issue iPads and laptops to teachers; others do not. Some teachers use their own personal devices; others may not be allowed to do so.
4. Structure your time. Schedules require discipline. Take note of how you could use your time in the morning before school begins, during the day when you are student-free and in the afternoon at school's end. Can you find thirty minutes for email? Can you ear mark one day to stay late after school? Instead of taking work home, stick to it after hours at school one day. Keeping tasks in time boundaries can help prevent them from hogging our attention during class or at home.
5. Relax. Enjoy the kids. Teachers are feeling pressure to perform--at my school, in my district, across my state. Performance measures are changing rapidly. Sometimes the stress of seemingly constant change makes us want to go to ground and hole up--we become entrenched because we are overwhelmed as demands are lobbed at us. We are racing to the top with new guidelines for evaluating teachers, new standards and new assessments. Stop running. Stop spinning. Stop for a few minutes, a class period, a week. Be with the people. Be with your students. Enjoy the kids. Have them read something they have written. Write with them. Discuss a good book or article related to your content. Read together. Breathe. Reconnect to the joy that told you wanted to teach in the first place.
|Our work space formerly known as the "Teacher's Desk."|
The table connected to the desk is perfect for
conferring and teaching small groups.
I wouldn't mind getting rid of the desk (two tables and desk--an L shaped work space), but I need the storage and room to spread out. I also need one drawer that is mine. One spot where I can store grade rosters, confidential information and professional files--those end up in the desk's file-drawer. Plus the added table means I can configure nine work groups in the room--this one at the "back" is perfect for conferring or teaching small groups.
|Liftoff! by Jason Major|