Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Moment

As a teacher of nine and ten year olds I understand the importance of gaining and holding attention in the classroom since this is the crux of a successful lesson. Unfortunately, classrooms are filled with many different kinds of attention stealers.

Students tune me out while they communicate with each other by covert note writing, facial contortions, hand movements, and blatant talking. There are noises in the hallway and outside the window. Special Education students who are emotionally disturbed mimic every word I say under their breath or speak out constantly. There are Johnny Jump-Ups who try to visit their book bag or approach me for passes to the nurse or restroom. Then we have the constant wigglers and the standers. Finally, there is the self-appointed Trashman in training who must throw away his/her collection of paper wads during my lesson instead of taking care of it as they go out the door.

Even with all of these interruptions there are moments, however fleeting, when I have them, ALL OF THEM, in the palm of my hand. The moment comes suddenly and with such force I am instantly rattled. Since I am used to doing up to ten things at a time during a lesson I carry on my lecture while I frantically make sense of the moment. My mind registers that the room is so still I can hear my own heartbeat. Can they hear it? Every child's eyes are on me. The shear responsibility of the moment is almost too much to bare. My mind tries to figure out what it is I said to grab everyone's attention. Maybe I can use it again.

The moment is both exhilarating and scary at the same time. This is my time to present the best nugget of content I can. It's time to step up the plate, be all that I can be, and aspire to other assorted cliches.

Suddenly the classroom phone rings. The Trashman is being called to the office for early check-out. The moment rapidly begins to unravel with frightening speed, and then it's gone leaving me in the chaos of my classroom once again.


Jenny D. said...

I've got some posts on teaching history from profs of this topic.

Jenny McB said...

Got the link from the teacher forum. Interesting to see the same behaviors that I see in HS are the same that you see in grade school. I work in a Resource room, at least you get some students engaged most of the time.
I enjoyed reading your blog!