Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I'm a stand up kind of teacher

Really, I stand for every class. We talked about teacher authority in 621 and how it might be relayed in whether the teacher sits or stands and where the teacher sits or stands in the room.

Part of why I think I stand is my undergraduate teacher training. My main mentor and dean of the program, Dr. Wellborn, drilled into us, “A teacher stands! A sitting teacher is a weak teacher. We are not weak.” For a time I thought I had joined the army and not the education college. Wellborn actually used to take points off our grades if he caught us sitting during unannounced visits OR even if we sat and did a presentation in a class that was not his. He used to tell us, “Get used to standing. You’ll keep control of the class.”

I remember thinking at the time that he was crazy. I STILL think he is crazy, but every time I am finished lecturing and want the students to speak in an informal discussion style, I sit. Actually, I hover over the chair for a moment, contemplate my options (sit and discuss or stand and direct). I usually end up sitting down for about ten seconds before I get excited and need to jump up to write on the board.

Again, I hear Wellborn barking at me, “Gardner! Gardner! Include all the intelligences. DESE. You must teach for everyone!” As I write the acronym “NCLB” and then “= No Child Left Behind” on the board I think about the Show-Me standards and Gardner’s multiple intelligences and apply them to what I am doing. I am engaging more intelligences and standing, again. Wellborn would be proud.

But like I said earlier, Wellborn is a lunatic. Perhaps I feel the need to move freely about the classroom because I can do so in a way I have never been allowed before. As a student I was restricted to a desk or, when necessary, a short path to the door, but as a teacher I can move around. This movement is a freedom I was most uncomfortable with for the first semester. I stayed right behind the desk and resisted the urge to hide behind the lectern, but I stood, wobbly knees and all (and with Wellborn commanding in the distance). This semester I am more relaxed. I stand, I sit, I lean, I move around, but I do more standing than sitting.

Standing isn’t a way to control my class; I don’t need to control my students. Most of my students know full well they are here because they choose to be here, which is a far cry from Wellborn’s depiction of the “unruly high schoolers of this state.” Yes, they have needed a push from me, but I think there was never any question of my authority.

So, I think the question is why do I stand to lecture and sit to discuss? Do I need “extra” authority when I lecture or is it simply a function of freedom of movement and access to the white board or other technological aids? When I sit, am I trying to make myself like a peer in order to facilitate discussion? And finally, am I reading too much into my sitting and standing habits?


Amy said...

I'm pretty conscious of my sitting and standing habits, too. I think I jump out of my seat more often than necessary. I'm also conscious of where I sit. Why do I sit up front even when my students are giving presentations? Yesterday I told myself that since I practically had my back to the presenters that I was reinforcing their peers as the real audience. But I think I was making that up.

imcriswell said...

I'm a sitter when I know I should be a stander. I agree that if you stand when there is a discussion, it is a way of putting yourself on a higher level than the students. I only stand during discussion if I'm writing on the board. Let's everyone know we're on the same level. I however, sit when I'm lecturing,too. I know I shouldn't. It sucks the energy out of the room. Standing says to the student, "Look! I'm using energy! I'm standing here, walking around, writing on the board... the least you could do is sit quetly and listen every once in a while."

AMedievalMind said...

I tend to be all over the freakin place. I suppose, if a majority answer is required, I find myself on top of the large table at the front so I can be comfortable for discussion and lecture (of which I actually do very little) and able to get up and move around, throw chalk at students for stupid remarks, etc. I myself had a teacher that always stood for lectures in school, although our classroom was set up with large tables, so he would actually walk on the table tops to lecture. Held our attention. But I do not think the tables would hold me, so i just sit.

Megan M. Keadle said...

Interesting, I never really thought about it. Sometimes I sit and sometimes I stand. I don't lecture the entire time and when I do I stand. There are times when the students are freewriting and I sit to avoid distracting them. I also sit during student led discussions because I am trying to teach them to take part in their education and not be spoon fed by me (if that makes any sense). Well, that's all I got!

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