Being light on my feet has its advantages: tigers, trucks and tyrannosauruses alike tend to trip awkwardly when trying to trap me in their teeth, tyres and tiny talons. I simply skip away. Being light on my feet in the classroom, however, is perhaps a disadvantage.
Like many, I pace when I talk. I get excited, and I just can’t hide it. But there’s little worse, I think, than watching an orator pace unnecessarily. It’s distracting, and implies a lack of confidence, a confidence to just stand still and address one’s audience squarely. Just as when we talk with purpose, so too we should move with purpose.
I’ve worked really hard to stand definitely: if a pupil front right is talking, I move front-left so I can see the whole class; if I’m explaining I stand front and centre as the focus; if we’re discussing an idea on the board I stay to my right, meaning I can point to something with my left hand, and gesture and write with my right. This ain’t no rocket-science, but it’s not something we’re told about when training. I’ve certainly never seen this sort of thing on an observation form. Perhaps it should be?
Standing still is authoritative. It demands attention. It exudes confidence. The gestures we use, whether by choice or accident of habit, tell our pupils something about our ability to explain and direct. These little things are important.
Anyway, today I observed a PGCE science teacher and gave him one piece of advice: stand still. He admitted that he moves a lot, but unlike at the AA, the first step in changing your practice is to change your practice. Deliberately changing an aspect of what we do, especially when this contradicts a seemingly embedded behaviour such as being light of foot, is hard. It takes discipline and focus. That discipline is worth the effort, however, if only because other traits then become easier to control.
Give it a go. Stand still