Doug Lemov's field notes

Reflections on teaching, literacy, coaching, and practice.

09.27.19Darren Hollingsworth’s Threshold: How do you not start at happy?

“Always a pleasure…”

Yesterday I posted a video of Trona Cenac-Joseph’s Threshold at Troy Prep–it was a beautiful example of a teacher bringing warmth and caring to a setting in which there was also much to be done to ensure learning.

Today, reviewing film we just shot at from Great Yarmouth Charter Academy, I was struck by the same theme in Darren Hollingsworth’s Threshold–and honestly, I couldn’t stop smiling. I mean, just listen to the banter, the way he greets kids–all the kids, actually, not just those in his class. He’s irrepressible. No one passes him in the corridor without receiving a bit of upbeat banter.

It’s a brilliant example of how a teacher can use the moments of structure–those that allow a school to honor learning time–to also make students felt known and cared about. Moments of structure are ideal for infusing a bit of warmth. Or more than a bit. The whole time Darren is reinforcing expectations for the classroom and building school culture: In the best bit of chatter he asks a student if he’s another pupil’s brother. “Yes,” the student responds, feeling known and happy. “Yes, sir,” reminds Darren before calling him “top boy” and confirming his name (Jack). Message: The people who care about you hold you to standards.

But, honestly, there’s so much positivity and everyone is part of it–if you’re in Mr. Hollingsworth’s class, how do you not start at happy?

Here’s the video. Sorry we didn’t get the camera turned round right away.

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