Walking around the room

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Kenz501, Dec 1, 2017.

  1. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    Does anyone have any suggestions to help me not feel so weird about walking around the room and monitoring my students? It feels unnatural to me to walk around my students while they are working, so I usually remain seated at my desk, at a student desk, or perched behind the lectern. Constantly walking when I don't have anything to hand out or a task to direct them to do feels weird. This happens mostly in testing situations, where the students are just sitting quietly and working. I've been told that I need to walk around; it's part of classroom management, but I feel so odd while doing it. I have students who like to make obnoxious bodily function noises, and I feel like if a kid wants to make a joke at my expense, I'm a prime target when I walk around and get too close to them.

    I guess I should also mention that I have, or am strongly suspected of having, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and social anxiety might be part of the package. I'm also just not assertive and am very easily made uncomfortable in social situations. I guess that's a weird thing to be worried about, but I have a habit of imagining worst case scenarios...and not being taken seriously is honestly a concern of mine.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2017
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  3. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Perhaps change the seating arrangement up? I'm a relatively big guy, and I have a relatively small classroom, so it's sometimes tight for me to maneuver down the aisles. It's easier for me when they are in groups, and less awkward too as they are more focused on each other since they are facing one another.
    I know you mention social anxiety, but part of teaching is observing students to see what errors they make. Perhaps at first you can start with things like "start this problem, and raise your hand when finished so I can check it" so they get used to having you walking around and such, and it would have a clear purpose for you.
     
  4. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    How would I apply that when they are taking tests?
     
  5. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Honestly I might sweep down the aisles once or twice during a test, but most of the time I'm sitting during a test. I give many different versions of tests to help curtail cheating, and I have a pretty decent view of the room from a seated position. Are your students cheating on assessments frequently?
     
  6. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    No. It's just required for me to walk around the room and monitor the students. I caught one cheating, but now cell phones are banned during school hours, so it would be difficult for them to do.
     
  7. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    I think it depends whether your students act appropriately when you are not walking around. If you are required to walk around, you probably don't need to be walking around all of the time and can find a place to stand for part of it (where you can see everyone). Also, you can circulate the room for one minute, stand for for a few minutes, etc.

    EDIT: The above post was meant for walking around during tests. I always walk around during classwork (or sit with students) as does my mentor teacher to see assess they're doing, provide support, ask questions, and provide extensions.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2017
  8. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    It seems you don't understand the purpose of walking the room. It is a way to help reduce cheating, but it gives you a glimpse into where the students may be struggling. Glance at where they are, what they are answering, and how they are answering. For example, you may find a student struggling to answer certain types of questions every test, for example, true/false. They may do ok on them, but they struggle with them. That gives you information to help them understand how to answer such questions. You may find they struggle with short answer questions or if there is a scantron sheet they may struggle filling in the right bubbles.

    During daily work, it gives you even a better opportunity to interact with them when they are struggling or seeing who needs more challenging work.

    Knowing what you should be learning from the task and the purpose behind it may make you feel less awkward. It really can be an information gathering session for you that goes beyond stopping cheating. You can then use that information to help with your instruction.
     
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  9. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    I've always been reluctant to walk around and interact with my students without a clear purpose, I guess this is more an Asperger's thing than anything else. It's at least annoying to have people misinterpret your behavior and wrongly assess your personality to the point that they begin thinking you are very different than who you really are. It's usually an unflattering assessment--lazy, jerk, selfish, uncaring, slob, foolish, etc. I'm not always aware of my actions, though. I sometimes worry that I'm looking at people the wrong way, standing in one place too long, unintentionally being mean, etc. Normal people might know how to recover from these poor assessments and behavioral faux pas, but I don't. It seems like it's very easy for people to form negative opinions of me.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2017
  10. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Your purpose is, always, to monitor and observe your students and to offer guidance, feedback and assistance as required. During daily work, circulating allows you to keep students on task as well as giving you formative assessment information. Circulating during a test should not just be to prevent cheating. You can check for misconceptions, monitor how quickly, or slowly, students are completing the assessment, and ensure that the students understand what they are being asked to do. At the very least, circulating lets the students know that you are interested in what they are doing.
     
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  11. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    Dec 2, 2017

    ,
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
  12. AllCreatures

    AllCreatures Rookie

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    I also walk around the room, check to make sure students are on-task and understand the assignment, and talk to students to get them thinking in more developed and new ways. I have to check and to talk in order to scaffold so I am regularly walking around my classroom. I try to make it friendly and authentic and not a form of panopticon surveillance, but I certainly want to make sure students are staying on task and haven't gotten confused about the assignment goals.
     
  13. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    You always have a clear purpose for walking around the room: assessing student work and behavior.

    It sounds like they have realized that if they make you uncomfortable, then you will go away. Then they are free to do whatever shenanigans they are doing that they don't want you to see. And then you can't do your job as effectively because you don't know what your students are doing. You just see their final product.

    The majority of my grading while students are working on the assignment. That doesn't mean that I'm at my desk or disengaged from the class. I'm walking around looking at student work. Yes, at first it will seem a little weird, but it's needed. You just have to find a way to overcome your insecurities.

    Initially I was reluctant to hover too much around kids, but that was only because I was unsure of why I was doing it. That is one of those things that comes from experience. And you don't always have to be checking a major thing. Here are some things I do when I'm walking around.

    * check paper headings (no name papers are annoying)
    * check neatness
    * check direction following
    * who is off task
    * maybe I look for the answer to a particular question
    * ask students if they are still doing okay
    * hand out missing work

    Yesterday in one of my classes I walked around with wipes and cleaned off empty desks, my shelves, etc.

    I've had coworkers who worry about how students perceive them. It's similar to how you say youfeel about what your students think. It may just be because I'm older and have done this for 25 years, but zero percent of my self worth comes from what a 13-15 year old may think about me.
     
  14. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    I might have gotten a little of my insecurity from teacher education, on top of my pre-existing insecurities. My main concern isn't so much what the kids think of me as it is preventing management issues that could distract the students. Where I worked before, potential management issues were all over the place. Kids would complain about my hygiene. Most of the complaints were false, but they were embarrassing and also made the classroom that much more difficult to manage, not to mention the complaints got my boss's attention. I learned that I could stop some of the complaining by simply not getting close to the students, so that was my solution.

    Of course, this is an experience I had while working at a youth center. I'm guessing an inner city youth center is quite different from where I am now, a good middle school in a decent neighborhood, but I still have this need to avoid what I see as potential landmines when working around kids.

    I can lower my anxiety by walking around with a clear purpose, checking papers, looking for headings, cleaning desks, etc. I guess I'll try that and see how it turns out. I can also just perch behind the lectern or take a seat in the back to get a better view of things. I just don't want someone to take advantage of my, apparently obvious, discomfort and lack of awareness.
     
  15. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    You absolutely must fix the ones that are true. Keeping away from the students rather than correcting the issue is not an acceptable solution.
     
  16. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    To my knowledge, I haven't gotten any complaints about that where I'm working now. It was just that at the other place I did, and I think it's contributed to me feeling odd when walking around the room.
     
  17. rpan

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    You’ve mentioned classroom management as an issue in other posts. I feel that walking around the room is an essential part of classroom management. When the kids know you are walking around, they tend to do what they are supposed to do. I personally find it difficult to tell the difference between a doodling student and a student doing work from way up the front. But I can tell you no one is doodling or talking or wasting time when I’m actively walking around.

    I can also tell if a student is struggling but is too embarrassed or shy to seek help from me. I can point out errors in their work or praise them for working diligently or being neat etc. Sometimes I stop to have a chat with a student, get to know them. It’s part of good classroom management practice and also helps you form positive relationships with them, an essential part of behaviour management.
     
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  18. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    True, but I'm someone who at one time in my life thought making eye contact made me look weird, so I stopped doing it for a while until I learned that it was important.
     
  19. Bioguru

    Bioguru Companion

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    I am constantly walking around the room as students work on problem sets. My primary goal is to make sure everyone is staying on task. I know as soon as I sit down at my desk, the least-motivated students are going to take that as a signal that class is over and stop working. I've known for many years that simply walking around and looking at student work keeps them on task the entire time. Now, I mask this primary reason with the secondary purpose of looking over their work for mistakes and affirming correct work. As a teacher, it is your purpose to be looking at their work and offering correction, encouragement, and affirmation. Don't ever feel out of place in your own classroom.
     
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  20. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Agreed -- I only sit down once I know I can trust a class to keep working without me in proximity, and I will get back up once I have even one kid looking distracted.
     
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  21. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I also have anxiety, and I also struggle with reading social cues sometimes, especially when I am feeling overwhelmed. I have accepted this about myself and when I get that uncomfortable feeling, I remember that it's just a feeling. It's like when I'm working out and my asthma flares up a bit -- I know what the feeling means and I know how to handle it, so I don't panic -- I just slow down for a moment until it passes. Similarly, when I feel myself getting anxious in class, I will do something subtle to comfort myself, like sip some water or coffee (I always have a thermos on my desk), or open or close the door or look outside for a moment, or even just straighten a pile of papers on my desk. All these things look ordinary and no one would ever know (from the outside) that I am actually dealing with anxiety, but they help me regroup for a second. Then, once more into the breach I go!
     

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