When the classes are dead, exhausted, giving that leaden stare, the tendency is to try to push them, insert some energy, or otherwise jar them into looking alive.  But it just doesn’t work.

However counterintuitive it is, slowing down is what does the trick. Slow enough is painfully slow. Slow enough is painfully boring to the teacher, who already speaks the language. But slower (probably still not slow enough) was what got the eyeballs focused this morning. Slower was what was getting nods and smiles from kids in the back row (against all conventional wisdom that getting in their faces and “demanding” participation, sitting up straight and so on is the way to go).

And for planning — and I do hope lots of admin are reading this — less is more, and none is the best. Most classes where I’ve had a “good story” going in flopped. This morning, I went in with the intention to teach “is lost” and “looks for”, but when a girl was playing with a shiny new cell phone, being nosy I asked her where she got it. Turns out (as we found through lots of PQA) that her boyfriend had given her the cell phone for free after she cut his hair in her family’s bathroom, cutting it not very well, of course, not nearly as well as she had cut another classmate’s hair (this was entering into the realm of fantasy, of course), but anyway her boyfriend is better looking than a whole host of famous good-looking guys, and  fortunately when she cuts the hair of male friends she does a good job, it’s just when she cuts her boyfriend’s hair that she doesn’t, but anyway he is not a student at this high school so who cares?

I remembered to shop short five minutes before the bell and asked them to choose the words they felt were important enough to make “required”. They did not stint on choosing, but their choices were all high-frequency and, since they were linked to this intriguing sartorial situation faced by one of their own, they should remember them.

So, Ms. Admin, please may we stipulate that on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I talk to my kids, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays we do literacy stations? That will save everyone a lot of paperwork on lesson plans. And yes, they will learn the curriculum vocab.