Bringing Learning to Life in the ClassroomBy Eileen Landay, Ed.D.'94
“I agree with that kid over there!” The tenth grader pointed to a student seated on the other side of the room.
It was the beginning of the spring semester in a large urban high school. The student teacher, having just taken over the class from her cooperating teacher, was attempting a class discussion using a protocol in which students talked to one another rather than through the teacher in the usual wagon wheel format. As her university supervisor, I was seated in a corner, observing, taking notes, and preparing to offer support and feedback.
The third time I heard a student refer to a classmate as “that kid,” the point finally penetrated. It was February. These students in this class had been together for five months, yet they did not even know one another’s names.
As a seasoned teacher and a frequent classroom observer, I shouldn’t have been so surprised. But on this particular day, the observation really hit home. After months together, these students remained virtual strangers. That had to affect how they were feeling about one another and about the class. Maybe that was part of the reason for the overwhelming lethargy I sensed in the room. A few students were making a modest effort to participate. Most were not. Several had their heads down on their desks. This classroom was socially and academically asleep.