A time to think about my previous lesson. A time to think about my next lesson.
However, I have changed my thought process on how to use this time.
"Why?" You might ask. "It's free time. I need that time to ... to... relax a little bit!"
True, but you can relax later. The reason you should pay more attention is because I learn the most about my students during this time.
The "role models." The "trailblazers." The ones that "lead the game." The "rule makers" and "rule followers."
I also learn about the students that are still developing these skills. The students that might be thought of by fellow students as "cheaters", or "bullies", or "rule breakers."
This is valuable information that I need to know back in the classroom, so that it can run as smoothly as possible while I am teaching. So I can shape my lessons to fit the needs of my students.
"But why the playground?" you ask.
Well, the reason is simple.
They don't think that we're watching (or listening).
And most of the time... they're right!!!
So, I challenge you to a task:
The next time you're on the playground with your students... don't just sit there and think about your next lesson. Try not to carry on too long of a conversation with a colleague (in essence, don't be rude while you carry out this task).
Instead, walk around. Take a stroll... shake up your routine a little bit. Watch their faces as you do it. It's priceless.
Smile as you do it. (Like you know something that they don't).
Look for those "rule makers."
Keep your eye out for the "instigators."
Report back to me your findings.
You're on a mission, and the task is to ultimately improve your classroom.
"But Mark!" you say. "I already know who they are. Why do I have to do it on the playground, and just confirm what I already know?"
That's not the mission. Remember... the task is to improve your classroom, so you'll be hearing (and seeing) things that you don't know about that goes on in the classroom.
Why don't you see some of these things in the classroom?
Because you're teaching! That's why.
So, put on your detective hat, and let me know your findings.
I can't wait to hear your results. Good luck, and don't spill your coffee.