5-Minute Friday: LOOK

It’s Friday again, and that means another 5-Minute Friday challenge from Lisa-Jo Baker. If you want to join in or read other people’s posts, check out her page here: http://lisajobaker.com/five-minute-friday/. Here’s my take on this week’s word and something I’ve been thinking about since a meeting I had earlier this week…


In any classroom, good teachers know that the most important thing is seeing your students. Knowing them. Understanding who they are. We can’t be good teachers if we don’t really listen to and look at the children who walk into our classrooms each morning.

And with instruction, particularly in the workshop model where one-on-one conferring is essential, knowing your students is a must. Lucy Calkins, author of many books including The Art of Teaching Writing, described this conferring as having 3 parts: Research, Decide, Teach. Inherent in the research part of a conference is looking at and really understanding what each child is working on as a writer (or reader, or mathematician, or scientist). We might ask questions, read some of their writing, listen to them explain their work or read alongside them. The goal is to really know what they’re thinking, what they’re doing well, and what they’re trying to do. And then compliment them on something they are doing well. Everyone likes to feel good about their work before hearing a suggestion, don’t we?

Recently, I’ve heard my own student voice in my head during a few interactions I’ve had as a new mom. Times when I was struggling to breastfeed my daughter or figure out sleep routines and sought advice, I’ve heard a part of me yelling, “Wait! You’re not listening! You don’t know me! You don’t know what I’ve been trying.” And then I’ve been left feeling ignored, given rote information that doesn’t really apply to me or my situation, and, frankly, pissed off.

We adults have a lot of opinions, and “experts” are often expected to just give their opinions, perhaps without listening. However, here’s a lesson from the classroom for the greater world—do a little research, really look and see and understand, before you try to teach others. It makes a difference.


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