Doug Lemov's field notes

Reflections on teaching, literacy, coaching, and practice.

09.27.13A Grab Bag of Great Little Moments from Rachel King (Video)

grab bagWe were looking for the right phrase to describe this great video of Leadership Prep Ocean Hill’s Rachel King.  Then someone suggested the phrase ‘grab bag’–we like that because this clip is like something you’d get at a birthday party–  a simple and useful smattering of favors- bright cheery things that are useful and fun.

Here are at least five bright useful things you might find in this clip.

1.       Singing directions:  After her first direction to kids, “Track me,” Rachel sings (or at least sing-songs) the follow up to her kids, “Not your paper.”  Singing a direction tells kids what to do in an upbeat way (in this case it’s kind of a correction so it makes it go down gently) and it makes the direction “pop” by distinguishing it from everyday tone and rhythm; more memorable; more effective. Plus it makes you seem unflappable to sing a direction, even if you’re not sure you’re feeling unflappable.

2.       When she gives her directions and scans for compliance, Rachel very clearly walks to the corner of the room, where she has a far narrower range of vision to scan for follow-through… basically she has to scan 90 degrees versus 180 degrees to see the whole room so she is less likely to have blind spots.  We call that spot, Pastore’s Perch and she uses it well here.

3.       Radar/Be Seen Looking:  Rachel does a great scan of the room after she gives her initial direction. Standing in the corner she scans, cranes as if to see each corner of the room, and nods to show she’s looking.  Looking, and calling attention to your looking, shows students that you care and notice whether they follow your directions.  That incredibly simple action has a huge influence on their follow-through.

4.       Bright face:  As she tells kids they’re going to hunt for alliteration there’s a little smile on her face.  Don’t underestimate the power of smiling and looking friendly.  And in control.

5.       Self-interrupts.  Rachel pauses to self-interrupt in the middle of the word “second”.  This is one of our favorite pieces of Strong Voice advice–when you break in between words students might not recognize the pause; when you break mid word even the unperceptive perceive the intervention.

Five little things. Simple, easy, really useful- truly a grab-bag of effective teacher tools. Thanks Rachel.

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2 Responses to “A Grab Bag of Great Little Moments from Rachel King (Video)”

  1. Laura
    September 28, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Hi! This is an awesome little clip – thanks for sharing. Can I ask if the phrase “Pastore’s Perch” has any references, or if it’s a personal phrase? I tried looking it up and couldn’t get anywhere.

    • Doug_Lemov
      September 30, 2013 at 12:31 pm

      Hi, Laura. It comes from watching Patrick Pastore–a teacher in Rochester–deliberately move to the corner when giving directions… we show his video in our workshops so we like to use that phrase. But i don’t think anyone else uses it. at least not yet. 🙂

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