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4 days ago

Classroom fight

Riccardo saw that the

Riccardo saw that the assistant and his charge were disagreeing about the arrangement of books and papers on their desk at the back of the room. Jayne began the lesson at the front of the room by the whiteboard reviewing the written instructions from the previous lesson. She invited the students to continue their work up until ten minutes before the end of the lesson, when she expected them to have finished their written stories and would collect them for marking over the weekend. "There will be time for some fun at the end of the lesson," Jayne promised her students. The students already had their books to hand and began reading what they had started writing in the previous lesson. There was a sense that this lesson had started well. It seemed that everyone was already working. Jayne then strolled around the room, lightly engaging with the students but not tackling any discipline issues except for asking, "How are you getting on?" She didn’t provide detailed answers to their many and repeated questions either, except for saying, "Look at your notes from the last lesson." Riccardo used the room map to track where Jayne walked and stood. He used the sheets to note which groups of students were working and which were not. The lesson proceeded with the sounds of pencils scratching across paper and the occasional flip of a page and scuffle of shoes on the floor. Riccardo relaxed into the smooth rhythm of the lesson and repeated the noting procedure five minutes later, and was about to start the third page when a loud disturbance of voices at the back of the room caught his attention. Turning to the source of the disturbance, Riccardo saw the assistant and his young student were having what might be described as a wrestling match. The student was apparently trying to hit the assistant, and the assistant was defending himself by holding onto the student’s wrists. 100

The students nearest the disturbance turned to watch. Riccardo looked for Jayne. Where was she? She was attending to another student elsewhere in the room and had her back to the disturbance. Riccardo was certain, if he could hear the disturbance, then she too could hear what was going on behind her. After a minute, Jayne spun round and walked determinedly over to this wrestling pair. Riccardo’s eyes and ears widened, excited to hear what she was about to say and to see what she was going to do in order to resolve this tense and escalating situation. "A teachable moment," said the voice. "A coachable moment," replied Riccardo. As Jayne approached, the pair stopped wrestling and looked at her. In that moment, Jayne asked the student, with authority and curiosity, "How happy are you with the work you’ve done so far?" The student immediately let go of the assistant's hands, refocused his attention on the work in front of him and replied, "Well, not very." Jayne encouraged the student, inviting him, "Would you like to continue until you are satisfied? It would be good if you could finish before the end of the lesson." She walked away without engaging the student or the assistant in further conversation. The students who had been following the drama saw how Jayne had taken care of the classmate. After briefly making eye contact with each other, they returned to their work with brighter eyes. Jayne's intervention seemed to have cleared the air; the student and assistant went about their duties in an orderly fashion. Ten minutes before the end of the lesson Jayne invited the students to hand in their work, "That's all we have time for, and I would like you to bring your work just as it is, and put it in this tray. I will mark them over the weekend and we will talk about it on Tuesday when we meet again. Now we have time for something fun before we leave." 101

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