Internal thinking is when a student is contemplating the answer to a challenge that has been presented. The student who is exhibiting internal thinking tends to walk slower and face forward. You can even observe the concentration on the student’s face. We often say, “I can see his wheels turning,” when internal thinking is occurring. The moment a child arrives at an answer or possible solution, the student’s entire demeanor changes. The facial expression becomes excited, the arms tend to move about, and the pace of the steps increases.
At times, this excited behavior can get out of hand if many students try to share their ideas with their teacher all at once in the middle of the hall. Therefore, we must instill the desired response before the assignment is made. We must also expect the correct behavior because students will live up to our expectations!
When students arrive at a solution to one of your challenges, they should be instructed to file it in a special place and in a special way in their brain so they do not forget it. This is also called external thinking. Tell students that they should always be thinking of challenges for you and the other students. When they think of a good question or challenge, they should write it down on an “I Wonder Why” card upon returning to class. The “I Wonder Why” cards should be available in a centrally located place in the classroom. When students fill one out, they place it in a designated box, basket, bowl, etc. Then, when other students have spare time after they have finished an assignment, they can get an “I Wonder Why” card and try to find the answer. The student looking for the answer to the challenge is called the Researcher. Upon finding the answer, the Researcher should write the answer on the back of the card and place it in a box for “solved” cases. Occasionally, the teacher should read aloud what has been “solved” to the whole class. This makes for a nice sponge activity on a Friday afternoon.
We have now established the positive procedure for lining up and conducting ourselves while walking down the hallway. The challenge at this time becomes developing enough learning opportunities to keep our children engaged wherever they go.
The constructive teacher’s class is the most refreshing to see. They are the students who are happy, content, and appear very pre-occupied because they are often in deep thought. They may be pondering an answer or developing challenges for their classmates. They will not be running and disturbing others, as they have been taught to respect those around them and their teacher expects them to make good decisions. The teacher will often be involved with her class. She may be communicating with the whole group and in “deep thinking discussion” with an individual. Should this teacher need to speak with another adult in the hall, the class will continue being intrinsically motivated. They will not start acting out because they have an enormous respect for their teacher as well as great pride in themselves. In the rare event that a student acts out inappropriately, the constructive teacher will simply position himself beside that student. The correction of the student will not happen in front of others. It will happen discretely, complete with the reasoning as to why it cannot occur again. The constructive teacher remains happy, proud, and content with her class.
The destructive teacher handles this much differently. Her students cause no trouble in the hall. Their faces appear blank, not curious. Their stance is likely to be perfect. This class tends to receive accolades from other adults in the hall. They are respectful out of fear. These students tend to get in more trouble when participating in extra-curricular activities than students who have a constructive teacher. When the destructive teacher is out of sight, her students tend to act out as they do not have a reason to be intrinsically motivated nor the ability to display self-monitoring. Please understand that there is a difference between students who are acting great out of fear from external forces and those students who are acting great out of intrinsic forces.
The obstructive teacher’s students can be heard a mile away. They are rarely in any type of line or organizational pattern. They are talking to one another, often arguing. Sometimes they are even pushing and shoving. They seem to have little respect for adults or each other. Other adults often find it necessary to redirect the obstructive teacher’s students.
As you can clearly see, students from the three different types of teachers are easily discernible. And again I ask, which teacher are you? Do you find yourself consistently being one or another, or do you tend to be different towards your students on different days?