Doug Lemov's field notes

Reflections on teaching, literacy, coaching, and practice.

03.18.14Maggie Johnson’s Right is Right: Warm, Supportive, Relentlessly Rigorous (Video)

maggieAll of a sudden I’m on a Right is Right jag. Last week there was this clip of Grace Ghazzawi driving up the rigor with an “answer my question.”  This week it’s Maggie Johnson killing it with a beautiful “hold out for all the way right” moment with one of her students- during close reading no less.  Maggie’s 8th graders are reading To Kill a Mockingbird and she puts a sentence describing Aunt Alexandra and her high-falluting “obsession with heredity” up on the board and asks her students to interpret.

As it turns out the student she calls on has a lot of insight about the sentence and generally about Aunt Alexandra’s personality.  But he completely doesn’t get the significance of the (slave-holding) family history she is forever referring to. She’s marching around in a dress that remind everyone–not least her-that she’s derived of slave-holding aristocracy.  Kind of an important point in the larger context of the book.  So, in short, he’s very observant and smart and also not yet right about the passage, all at the same time. He’s insightful about her personality and doesn’t understand the social and historical implications of her “obsession with heredity.” Which is why Maggie’s beautiful and supportive relentlessness is so important.  Here, watch for yourself.  What I see is a teacher who’s warm, supportive, & relentlessly rigorous.

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