I have read recently that one of the characteristics of teaching like a champion is double planning: thinking about what you will do as well as what students will do.
So, bearing that in mind, what do you do when your students are silently doing some form of extended writing?
- Walk around: give feedback on work. Make sure they’re silent. Marking in the classroom some people swear by because it saves marking later. I think it’s good too but I can’t think as carefully in the classroom (so can’t give as useful feedback) and I don’t like looking at what only some of the class have done. Better to sit quietly with a cup of coffee and put more thought into it. As for making sure they’re silent, well, I think in most schools most teachers have to do this or their students simply wouldn’t be silent. You may have no option but to monitor them or they wouldn’t do the work.
- Do the same task yourself. David Didau has recommended this, and I do it now a fair amount. Advantages: you can accurately judge how long a task will take, because you’re doing it too; it improves your own subject knowledge (because you are both teaching your own lessons, and doing your own lesson); you end up with a whole bunch of exemplar essays, newspaper articles, creative writing pieces to show students. (Interestingly, this last hasn’t been nearly as useful as I’d hoped. I just haven’t found myself using the exemplars I’m creating.)
- Plan your next lesson/mark some books/do whatever you gotta do. Well, most teachers don’t have much time. If over the course of a day you do an hour and a half’s work while students are working, brilliant. You can go home an hour and a half earlier. I’ve never done more than answer a few emails. I’ve never felt I attend to something important properly while I have thirty students in the classroom with me; my mind will always be partly on the students and what they are doing.