I posted on the connection between structure and freedom yesterday in reflecting yet again on Sam DeLuke and Meghan’s Hurley’s classroom. A couple of people wrote/Facebook-ed/Tweeted to ask about a visit or the availability of video…which is exactly what SHOULD happen. When we know a teacher does something great people should clamor to study and learn, and the teacher should feel like a celebrity. So, I’m glad you asked and my main man Rob Richard to work on the video taping. But in the meantime, I was in Sam and Meghan’s room yet again today for other reasons, and I snapped a pretty useful picture.
That’s Sam in the corner with her guided reading group. You can see how clear the expectations are for how students should sit. A colleague who was watching with me–a principal of an elementary school in a top district–remarked on how close the kids were sitting and yet how focused and orderly they were. SLANT/STAR city over there. But you can also see five of the kids in the frame are working independently. They know just what to do because they rehearsed it over and over and because Sam can manage them with a movement of a finger or a flash of an eye. They understand her gestures, and they know what they mean as well as what’s expected of them. This enables them to work on their own, each reading a different text. And they did this as we watched for 15 mins without a peep, even while Meghan’s lesson (out of frame to the right) involved high energy Call and Response kinda stuff. THIS is often what structure looks like in a classroom. It gives you the ability to give students as much autonomy as you want.
So anyway… a picture may be worth a thousand words but THIS one is probably worth 10,000.