Sunday, 15 September 2013

Teaching Radar

One of the first bits of advice I received regarding my behaviour management was to set-up my teaching radar. This made me initially think there was some kind of device which could be set-up in the classroom to, firstly, detect where students were when my back was turned and, secondly, hopefully nuke the ones who were engaging in off-task behaviour. It was soon explained to me that it was the art of knowing where your students were and what they were up to at all times. But the problem was that there was no device for this; it relied on your skill as a teacher.

Whilst this might seem impossible and ridiculous at first, it is an incredibly useful skill to develop to hone your behaviour management. And it is possible.

I'm going to take the layout of my average classroom where the green circles represent the circular tables, the black dots represent the students and the red arrow represents me as the teacher and the way I am facing. 

Let's take Picture A. This is the typical average position of me whilst explaining to students when introducing new information. This position allows me to see just about everyone; the only difficulties are the students in the corners on table 1 and 8. My eyes can follow everyone of them, and with my peripheral vision, I can just about see what those potential difficult students in the corner are doing, particularly if I turn my body occasionally whilst I am talking.


Now, let's say my students are working on some piece of work independently and I'm having to deal with any questions or queries that the students have. In picture B, I am talking to highlighted in yellow student on table 2. I am in the position one would expect someone to be in if I was talking in a normal conversation. However, this isn't a normal conversation; I am having to observe 31 other students and their behaviour at the same time as they are prone to misbehaving. With my back turned, I am oblivious to what half the class are up to as the blue line shows.


Contrast that with picture C. In this, I have adjusted my position so that I am still able to talk to the student with the question but now I can see the majority of the room. There are four students out of my vision and they are so close that I can hear if they're misbehaving anyway.


In another scenario, I am answering a question from the student in the corner on table 1. My positioning in this scenario means that I cannot see the majority of the class. They could be having a silent disco for all I know.


However, with a slight adjustment of my positioning as shown below in Picture E, I can talk to the same student and see the whole room. Although it might be strenuous and a tight squeeze to get into that corner, it now means that there's no silent discos without me knowing about them.


The basics of the teacher radar mean that you need to position yourself so that you can see as many students as possible but still be able to talk to the student who has a question. The best way of doing this is ensuring you are always on the 'edge' of the classroom so that you can glance left, right and straight ahead with nothing behind you.

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