I travel a lot for work. Whether I am walking on the sidewalk, in an airport or a train station, I often want to yell (and I have periodically) at the people coming my way and staring at their devices; “Look Up”! I don’t want to collide, I don’t want anyone to get hurt but most importantly, I want them to pay attention.
In the classroom, it is rare that I walk in and find a teacher staring at his or her device. They are teaching, and looking at their students, but they often have an eye on the Text, the text book, the teacher’s guide or the curriculum guide. They are not looking at who they are teaching but what they are teaching. They have not taken the time to share the why of what their students are studying only on the what and the how they will get through each unit and chapter. Looking up means diverting your attention from something else- the person at the airport was reading an email, the teacher was focused on the 10 questions in the book they had to get through before they could move on.
My challenge to teachers is to look up and see your students. Who are your students? What interests them? What questions so they have about the unit or chapter? What knowledge can they share about your current subject? How would they like to share what they now know and understand about your unit? Teachers often ask if April is too late to be asking these questions, and my answer is always the same- it is never to late to get to know your students. Once you have asked all the questions, and you are ready to move on to the next idea or topic, ask the questions again. Look up as they are working- how is the level of engagement? What would you tweak for the next time you teach this unit? What can you tweak in the upcoming unit to better meet the needs of your students?
When the person at the airport looks up at me at the last second before the collision, they smile a sheepish smile and move on. When you look up at your students and you connect- magic can happen- so… LOOK UP!