I find it quite fascinating how children react to different teachers. One teacher walks into the room, absolute silence descends, another walks in and the children carry on as if no one is there.
I can understand that if the head teacher walks in the children realise that they are a figure of authority and may respond but for other teachers…. The difference doesn’t really seem always to be quality of the teaching as sometimes the reaction has happened before any teaching has been done e.g. on days that supply teachers walk in.
Having taught for a long while I recognise how you start in September with a group of children of whom you may know nothing but names and even then not necessarily linking them to the right child and as the year goes by they become YOUR children. You know the idiosyncrasies of each child, what motivates them, what their pets and second cousins are called and certainly a variety of strategies to help them learn and behave appropriately. Working in a school for a while means that the children often know you and your reputation – I once did a lesson involving Jaffa cakes and for the next couple of years when teaching that year group the first question I was asked on transition day was, “Will we be allowed to do the Jaffa cake lesson?” So relationships are important but before they’ve been formed how do children ‘choose’ how to react?
Some teachers seem to just have an aura around them that the children sense and then react accordingly. Most teachers after a little while develop “the stare” that will silence most children most of the time but some don’t even seem to need to use it. A few teachers, or maybe more likely ex-teachers, just don’t ever seem to ‘get it’, for them the classroom is a demoralising place and the children seem to rule, never reaching that ‘working as a team’ and ‘wanting to be the best together’ status.
I have observed teachers and wished that I could be like them; I’ve tried the same techniques but they haven’t worked. Equally I have had people observe me and try something I have done to find it doesn’t work for them.
Is it teacher confidence that is sensed? Is it pheromones? Is it expectations? Is it just luck? Can you learn how to do it? I guess that most of us learn enough strategies to manage in most classes most of the time but sometimes I still find myself wishing that I was one of those teachers who can just ‘do it’, walk in to find a classroom full of children looking, silently and ready to learn!