If you are a teacher, you must probably know how hard is to manage and deal with difficult students. However, there is interest aimed at improving teachers’ performance and effectiveness in the classroom. In a recent article (New Teachers: How to Develop “The Look”), Rebecca Alber has shared her own experience attending a course developed by Dr. Sharroky Hollie, who is the author of the book, Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Teaching and Learning.
“The course was on classroom management, specifically for new teachers working in urban public schools. There are several things that really stuck with me from the class, and they have stayed with me all these years. For one, Dr. Hollie brought in a community member to talk to us about gangs and the history of gangs in Los Angeles. We also learned about tagging (the messages it sends and its purposes), as well as reasons behind kids being drawn into this life.”
In addition to the numerous fun activities and lessons, according to Rebecca, the most valuable part of all was the one when Dr. Hollie taught them The Look. What does this mean and how can young teachers (why not experienced ones too?) learn it?
“At the beginning of one of our earlier classes, Dr. Hollie asked us if we all had The Look down yet. Most of us glanced around, confused, not sure what he meant (we were all first-year teachers). A few students understood, nodding. He then explained that it is essential that every effective teacher develop The Look.
He told us that this facial expression serves as a non-verbal signal to a child that you see that they are off task and talking or doing something they shouldn’t be doing (i.e. chewing gum or trying to distract another student who is trying to complete an assignment).”
The Look is a special technique (a facial expression), which can be used instead of words or other types of discipline (we hope that corporal punishment is not one of them in the 21st century!) in order to convey a message: Stop talking! or Do your exercise! It’s a silent warning to all students who distract others or are simply “out” of class.
“The Look should not be mean or angry, in fact, it can convey calm and is often free of any expression.”
If you want to have The Look, you need to practice. You can do it with your co-workers and colleagues, even friends or family. Don’t forget the mirror, it also helps – if you impress yourself, chances are good you will impress your students. If you laugh, well, most probably students will be laughing too. Here is what Rebecca says:
“Over the years I taught high school English, I had a number of students comment to me about The Look. They told me they would consciously avoid doing something erroneous that might get it sent their way. They understood it was something I did not do often, but when I did, it was serious and that the student was not going unseen — that she was accountable.”
Do you have The Look? Do you think it’s helpful and useful? What kind of other techniques or tricks have you tried?
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.