Doug Lemov's field notes

Reflections on teaching, literacy, coaching, and practice.

05.23.14On Harry Potter & How to Sit on Desks: A Post Card from Ashley Hinton’s Classroom

ashley hinton harry potterHere’s a photo Champion teacher Ashley Hinton of North Star Academy took of her classroom. She was excited because the time when she got to read Harry Potter with her kids had finally arrived. I love this picture and asked Ashley if I could share it because it demonstrates some really important things.

First it emphasizes the importance and power of high quality books as the core teaching tool in ELA classrooms. Not sure how that even needs saying but English classrooms can’t and won’t be rigorous without rigorous texts, and it’s only through book length rigorous texts that students can grasp the full range of ways that character and plot and narration work.

But even more then that it’s a great example of how your ability to establish benign but clear control over your classroom in the behavioral sense allows you to let kids do fun and “loose” things without fear of them going too far. Her kids you’ll notice are sitting on their desks to read aloud–in faux British accents, i might add (see further: Joy Factor)

I’d just love for people to see that connection. The culture of order–there are going to be three clips of Ashley’s teaching in the new version of Teach Like a Champion, at least two in the High Behavioral Expectations chapter–allows you to let kids do things like this because 1) kids know what’s expected of them and 2) you know if things get a little carried away you can bring it back quickly and easily and pain-free. Only by being rock-solid on your classroom culture can you really get all crazy with your Harry Potter.

Thanks, Ashley!

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