Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Teacher Look

Close your eyes and recall that pointed way your mom would look at you when she wanted you to say "Thank you" or "Excuse me," or to get quiet, or to take your feet off the coffee table, or to stop pestering your sibling. Teachers develop a similar look to warn students silently that they are nearing a danger zone with their behavior.

When I prepared alternatively certified fellows for teaching jobs in our district, we practiced acquiring a teacher look. These intelligent, talented, successful individuals from other professions would stand in the front of the room in groups of five. They had to turn their backs to the audience (me, their summer institute director, and their remaining peers) and try to put that pointed look on their faces, the look that says, "Really." The look that says, "Surely, you didn't mean to blurt out something silly in my classroom." The look that says, "I just dare you to do that again."

When I counted backward from three, they turned at once to show us their best teacher look. I got a kick out of how still they kept their expressions and how seriously their peers evaluated their looks . . . for about two seconds. Then we'd all crack up.

This video shows a similar activity from another teacher preparation event. Hilarious.

Fred Jones describes the teacher look in his book Tools for Teaching. He shows a photo of Mary Queen of Scots, and advises the reader to think like her imperial highness: "We are not amused."

If you have never developed your teacher look, here's more help from Madeline Noonan, a teacher from Oakland, California, who posted a short video about her teacher look on the Teaching Channel:

And not to be outdone, here is a slideshow of a few of my own teachers demonstrating this critical professional skill:

I know you tried out your teacher look while reading this post or watching the videos. How did you do?

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