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The visitor looked around and saw a small group of students working on the interactive white board with an in-class support staff member from the school; they were comparing their written responses to a question with exemplars displayed on the white board. They were taking pictures of their work with a document camera, matching their work to the samples already on display, and making changes with the digital marker to improve their responses. Two of the students were engaged in a lively debate about why one of the work samples was a level three and not a level four.
A girl sat at a laptop, listening to a book through a set of headphones. She was engrossed in the pictures on the screen that accompanied the read-aloud, though she paused every now and then to jot down key words on a sticky note.
On the carpet sat the teacher, with two students. They were huddled around an ipad, reading and discussing a news article about a girl from another country, who had been recently been attacked while walking to school and was now recovering in hospital. After a while, the teacher sent the students away to write about their text-based discussions, and went back to her desk to conference with another student. As this student read aloud to and spoke with the teacher, the teacher discretely jotted down some notes on her clipboard, using a template to check off a few items, and write down some specific observations and next steps. Both the student and the teacher made repeated reference to material posted on the walls of the classroom as they conferenced together.
As the visitor scanned the room, she noticed books, posters and other artefacts that were
representative of the diversity reflected in the classrooms and elsewhere in the community and beyond. Many of the messages around the room -- about environmental stewardship and global responsibility -- were written or illustrated in student voices.
The visitor was intrigued with the seamless integration of technology in the room, and she marvelled, too, at how seamlessly the teacher and her students seemed to move from one activity to the next. A quick glance at the teacher’s desk confirmed the visitor’s suspicions; this was a highly skilled teacher: On one corner of the desk lay a dog-eared professional book about literacy planning, and a crisp new book on instructional practice with a few sticky notes already peeking out from selected pages. The teacher not only had a copy of her curriculum map prominently displayed within eyesight, but in her open daybook was a page that showed what was happening throughout the day, which materials were needed for that activity, who she was meeting with and whether and how those students were being assessed that day.
As the visitor listened to the gentle music emanating from the ipod speaker in one corner of the room, she reflected on how deceiving an effective block of instructional time could appear. The period of relaxed alertness she had just observed was the result of a very intentional, highly organized and well-thought-out program.
This was clearly a master teacher with lots to learn still, but many tricks already up her sleeve!