Reflection: Safety Performance Day! - Section 1: Performances


Today, I had a student refuse to perform a poem in front of the class.  I have to admit, her inflexibility kind of threw me for a loop, because I had no warning.  We have done other performances in class, and -- I guess because they were in a group setting -- she never said a word.

So, when you are the teacher in charge (and when are you not?) and something unexpected happens, you have to make a quick decision.  For a moment, I considered discussing with her the fact that she CHOSE to work alone, even though she knew that the performance was on the horizon.  "Come on!"  I thought.  "Get it together and read the poem."

Instead of pressuring her, I gave her a little space.  I gave her a few chances to change her mind -- along with some time to think about it.  When she didn't seem to make any progress or have any thoughts about how we could work around it, I sent her to the counselor to talk it out.  (After all, everything that goes wrong, goes wrong with 26 people watching, right?)

She eventually returned, but never read her poem.  When the counselor popped in after class, she was disappointed to hear that she never did perform.

We have all heard some statistic to the effect that teachers make 500 decisions an hour, or something like that.  The numbers don't really matter; the fact is that we constantly have to make choices.  I believe that my student should have performed -- public speaking is an important skill.  And I think that teachers shouldn't assign work if it doesn't "matter" if it is completed.  

However.  Ultimately, we are in a nine-month marathon, not a one-day sprint.  My goal is to create a classroom environment characterized by rigor and challenge, but also where students feel safe.  My student lost her performance points, but she turned in her poem.  She will come to class tomorrow, and we will start again like nothing happened.  And maybe later, in the spring, or maybe right before graduation, she will get up in front of the class -- by choice -- and perform.


  When a student refuses
  Safety: When a student refuses
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Performance Day!

Unit 1: Narrative Poetry
Lesson 11 of 11

Objective: SWBAT perform dramatic readings of their parodies of "The Charge of the Light Brigade."

Big Idea: Performance day provides opportunities to practice both speaking and listening.

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