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Getting there


Friday, April 29, 2005

so I started literally grabbing people and leading them into different groups, trying to get a mix... Wow! My students would never stand for that! There'd be a riot! You seem pushed for time and probably have large (more than 40?) classes, but there are ways to create random groups. Investigate.

The power in being the owner of this blog! I am responding to Marco Polo's comments on my third Tuesday class....and finding this one really interesting, for two reasons.

One is randomizing groups by other means, and there's a nice section, for instance, in Jill Hadfield's (1992)Classroom Dynamics OUP entitled Maintaining Fluidity. Now then, is it better for the group to be randomized by fate, say bits of paper/ string drawn from a hat matched with numbers or whatever, or by features or quizzes, in which the grouping becomes a communicative activity? Because to my mind, the person in charge of making fate or random happen is the teacher, so that it is an indirect or hidden control. In my class I like to ask students to change groups freely, and then if things are slow I can step in and aid the process, introducing a student to a new group and making sure all the names are known and so on, so that the teacher control which is overtly acknowledged is a restatement of classroom rules, which is to respect all members of the room and share. This builds up over time, and students get used to the idea of talking to everyone in the room, so I never need to resort to any kind of tricks over time, I just ask everyone to change their group, and they do.

The other point is that I seem to come across as an ignorant teacher, at least ignorant of some basic classroom dynamics and activities. The teacher blogging openly seems to be not a REAL teacher, rathermore a rookie, who needs to be introduced to techniques as a whole. Not even a specific one, which might indeed be new to me, but "ways to create random groups" as a general technique.

I think this is what is radical about this blog, that it blows the myth of the perfect professional teacher who is always on top of everything in all ways, and restates that even after twenty years of teaching I am always learning, thinking, experimenting, growing, searching for new ideas and perspectives on what I do, remembering old ways and new ways, and generally reaching out to share and learn. Not because I am a rookie, but because I am a professional. And I love comments!