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Proximity Strengthens Your Lessons

Found in: classroom management; computer labs, staying on task

After watching multiple student teachers in their formal observations over the past two weeks, not only am I thrilled at the new group of teachers choosing teaching as their profession, I noticed something quite significant that impacted their classroom management.

Integrating technology comes naturally to these teacher candidates. But when we conferenced after their lesson, many commented that students were noisy and off-task and none of the teachers’ usual strategies were working. Why? In using their laptop and document cameras, the student teachers had tied themselves to the front of the room where the technology was situated.  They were unable to use one of the most effective strategies for helping students stay focused during classroom instruction – physical proximity!

Walking around the room while teaching allows the teacher to quietly move toward students who are off task. Without missing a beat, the teacher’s physical presence reminds the student that he or she is supposed to be participating in the lesson.

So how can a teacher still use that laptop and document camera at the front of the room? Add it to the list of student jobs for which kids are responsible. Just as students are assigned to wipe down the board or be class messenger, they can be taught how to manipulate the pages under a document camera or click to advance to the next slide or bookmarked web page. Meanwhile, the teacher is connecting with students and using physical proximity to silently address any whose attention has wandered.


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