In every classroom there is some version of the expectation "eyes on the teacher." There are countless varieties, innumerable methods of eliciting this action from students and very often, marginal compliance. I am totally guilty of this. I probably directed "look up here" an embarrassing number of times each day in my first few years of teaching. I was always confused as to why this simple and powerful expectation yielded groans and the occasional eye roll. I used to chalk it up to overuse - students have heard this day after day, year after year. I was constantly reflecting on this until I realized that my students didn't know WHY I was asking them to do this, why it is important.
Enter Brain Rules:
Brain Rule #10: Vision trumps all other senses.
We look at the research behind this rule. We talk about WHY this expectation matters, WHY teachers say this year after year and WHY the expectation shouldn't just be eyes on the teacher but eyes on the speaker. Our eyes become our Super Power Eyes. Doug Lemov emphasises the importance of "tracking the speaker" so this is the language we use. This, paired with some study of our brains through memory and brain games and referencing ways to maximize our brain power became a practice in my classroom that I used year after year.
I suppose the point of this post is this: It is important for me to reflect on the expectations I set in my room, the questions I ask my students and my practice in general. To make sure that I am not just giving directions and saying they are important but that my students are learning WHY they are important. To make sure I keep what students are learning above what they are doing. To make sure that what I am saying needs to be heard and can move us forward.
When have you asked yourself WHY?