We teachers provide strategies to scaffold learning all day long. Some strategies are planned out in advance and provided during strategy groups. Some are delivered on the spot, during a conference or as the result of a quick check in. But then there are those other strategies, the ones we did not see coming but quickly embrace once we find them. This is the strategy that presented itself today in my third grade classroom!
In our class we call Wednesdays ‘Wacky Wednesdays’. Not because of the book by Theo LeSieg (aka Dr. Seuss) but because our Wednesdays are just a little bit wacky. We begin our day at a special and then return to our classroom at 9:35. For the next two and a half periods two separate groups of students traipse in and out of my room for different reasons. This traipsing requires that I teach lessons around when groups are missing so as the minimize the amount of missed instructional time.
Today we were working on a March themed book review project for the hallway. The children worked independently on the separate steps which allowed me to conference with individuals. Everyone was productive and happy but then I heard it. The disturbance had begun. “Stop that, you are being inappropriate,” one of the girls remarked to one of the boys. My old teacher radar picked right up on that one. “What are you doing?” I asked the boy in question. Well, I don’t know if you remember the old Loony Tunes cartoon where guilt was written all over their face (literally the character had guilt written all over their face) but, well, yeah, guilt was written all over his face.
Since I was busy working my way through the class conferences I decided to solve this problem quickly, “Please pick up your work and go to the back table. I think you will be able to get more work done and no one will have to be disrupted by whatever you are doing.” Well that worked out really well, problem solved.
About 15 minutes later I checked in with the group at large. “Who is still waiting for me to conference with them?” My friend at the back table raised his hand. “I’m so happy to see your hand up, has it been easier to finish your work at the back table?” A huge grin spread across his face as he nodded happily. Then I remembered how this same boy had seated himself on the floor in the front of the room one day so he could finish a writing project (which he finished with great success!). I walked over to him and we chatted about how this is the strategy he needed to tuck into his head for himself. When I checked the work he had done I was so impressed! I explained to him that he needs to remember to move to an out of the way and quiet space so he can get his work done, because when he did that he produced amazing work! This was his strategy for success. He was so proud of himself he was beaming. For the rest of the morning he became a mini teacher’s assistant, guiding his classmates and helping our wherever needed.
So keep your eyes open for those hidden strategies. And when you find them, embrace them!