Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Art of Stillness

In 8 Questions to Ask Yourself BEFORE You Plan Your Summer Calendar from  Cool Cat Teacher Blog,  Victoria A Davis, Cool Cat Teacher) asks the following question.  

“Question: Reflect upon stillness as opposed to laziness. Consider the place of stillness in your life. Do you know how to be still?”

Stillness is really hard for me. I like to be in constant motion. If I’m watching TV or if I’m riding in a car, I usually end up knitting because I can’t sit still. Unfortunately my husband isn’t always in the same frame of mind and would like me to leave him alone the first thing in the morning so he can enjoy his stillness. I think that is why I have a hard time with meditation or yoga because it involves being still and focusing on my breathing. During this stillness, my mind wants to wander and be active.

In think my students would like a little stillness too, especially when they are learning. They need the time to process the information and if I’m constantly talking, they don’t have that stillness that they need. Some teachers interpret this stillness as laziness or that the students doesn’t have the knowledge. When in fact, the student may be taking the time to process the information and needs this time. If I give him the time, he may come up with the correct answer. If I constantly don’t give him the time to process, he may get frustrated and not bother trying to process the information. He may feel that since he can’t come up with the answer quickly, I will either help him or call on someone else. So, this doesn’t really help him learn the information and it doesn’t help me accurately assess whether he knows the material or not.

This stillness is hard for teachers. I know my instinct is to help or rescue the learner and I hate to see the learner struggle. But this struggle is important and will only may him stronger. I have to be aware of the fine line between struggling and floundering without hope. The only I can do this is to get to know the student better. I need to watch his actions to see how he handles challenges and successes and these actions will help me gauge how much help he really needs or if he just needs more time to process information.

There are some ways that I can do this and here are some suggestions:
I can ask a student a question and count to 10 before helping him or moving on to someone else.
I can count to 10 after asking a question and asking if the student needs more time. Sometimes this interruption though might interrupt the thinking process and he has to start all over.
I can list the questions on the board in advance so the students have time to think about their answers.
I can call on a student and if he doesn’t know the answer, I can come back to him in a few minutes for an answer and move on to another question.
I can find other ways besides asking questions in order to assess the students understanding such as:
Having students brainstorm and share the information they know and write it on the board.

What other suggestions do you have for allowing stillness in the classroom? Please share.

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