Dr. Robert Marzano talks about every teacher needing a common mental set when focusing on classroom management (Marzano, Classroom Management that Works, 2003). This mental set is comprised of withitness and emotional objectivity.
This is part one of a two part look at this mental set.
For this episode we will focus on withitness which is being aware of what is going on around you. It is often that sixth sense that a teacher needs to have. Often it is spoken of as an extra set of eyes in the back of your head.
No matter what, withitness is a condition that you have to teach yourself to turn on and stay tuned to.
In the Marvel Comics realm there is a character named Spider-Man. He has the ability to recognize danger and foretell the potential of disaster approaching. When he feels that tingle in his brain he knows that he better pay attention or move out of the way. The classroom teacher is no different, He has a Spidey sense as well.
It is a matter of paying attention to it.
The better a teacher gets to know his kids the better he will become at recognizing warning signs of impending danger.
One sure fire way to turn on your withitness is to stand at your door during class changes. Yea, I know it is easy to get distracted, but the more you make this a priority the better you will become at recognizing issues are entering your classroom.Talk with the kids when they enter. Shake their hands. Look into their eyes Chit chat with them in the hall. If you do you these things you will notice when there is anger, sadness, or other issues walking through the door.
The same applies for during class. You have to pay attention to their eyes. You have to pay attention to their mannerisms. Listen with your ears and eyes. If you are truly paying attention you will notice when there is something wrong. Once you notice it. Address it. Go to the kids. Find out what is wrong. You will be happy that you did.
This is withitness.
Work on turning yours on and you will be able to address issues before they become issues.
Next time we will focus on emotional objectivity.
Here are some links for more information on withitness: