How often do you move around your room? Do you stay on one or two spots in the class only?
Do you circulate and work the room just like when a host moves around in a party to talk to everyone?
Do you hang out primarily at the teacher’s desk and sit down and talk?
Do you see an imaginary line between you and the front seats in which there is an invisible barrier that prevents you from stepping over the line?
Circulation is one of the teaching strategies master teachers use according to Doug Lemov’s book, teach like a champion.
The idea behind Circulation is that throughout your lesson, you should be strategically moving around your room.
Here’s 5 compelling reasons to do so:
1) To show the kids you own the room. Yup, it’s your class, not theirs. This is your universe and you’re in control of that universe. They are parts of that universe and they will comply with your rules. In other words, it’s part of classroom management, a critical component to master to become a great teacher.
2) By circulating and moving around, you show that you don’t only go to the students who are misbehaving and you want to stop the misbehavior.
You move because it’s part of how you teach. It’s all part of the package of being a teacher.
By doing this, you show that the students don’t control any territory in the classroom. You control the territory.
Establish this early in the school year and your students will know they have no safe zone where they can evade your influence and control.
Everything is geared to learning.
3) You circulate to engage your students.
Engage them. This keeps everyone on their toes and makes them focused on the task at hand.
When you move around, make frequent and nonverbal interventions. Did you see Aira making some spelling mistakes, tell her to check her spelling. Is Tom chatting with his seatmate? Tap him on his shoulder to remind him to get back to work.
Engagement also means positive reinforcement. So if you see them doing the right things, acknowledge it through positive feedback and nonverbal communication like a smile or a nod.
Little things go a long way.
4) To show that you are not always predictable.
Predictable is boring. It does not enchant.
So when you move in your room, do it systematically yet in an unpredictable way. Do not follow the same pattern of movement all the time or else your students will figure it out.
5) Classroom Control
You demonstrate power when you move strategically in your room. Always remember to face as much of the class as possible.
You do know what happens when you turn your back on them.
According to Lemov, the most powerful position to be in with another person is one where you can see him, he knows you can see him, and he can’t see you.
That’s why sometimes standing at the back of the class where you can see everyone during a discussion builds a subtle yet pervasive control of the entire classroom.
BONUS Reason: Exercise
In the comments below, share your thoughts on circulating in your class.
How often do you circulate and how useful is this strategy to you?
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