Power Zone Teaching

As one of his five keys to better instruction, Sean Cain, author of The Fundamental Five, recommends that teachers occupy the power zone, which is pretty straightforward:

Don’t barricade yourself behind a desk or pace along the front of the room. Get involved in the action and move around the classroom. The power zone is all about proximity.

The positive results include having more personal contact with students, being right there to assist with a question with differentiated instruction, being able to handle disruptions on the spot because you’re only a few steps away from everyone, and really getting a sense of how much students understand.

How could Web 2.0 tools achieve a power zone with students, if the goal is to get in there, engage, and individualize whenever possible?

Consider a Twitter session. In a perfect world where everyone has computer and web access, couldn’t a test review or homework session achieve the power zone? As the teacher, you could present a sample question and then watch, read, and respond as students reply with additional questions and their solutions. For instance, for a social studies lesson on the Bill of Rights, you could ask which Amendment is the most crucial in daily life—it’s an open-ended question, which demands higher-order critical thinking. You could offer your own choice somewhere in the discussion (being involved in the process). The whole class would see you tweet “Nice idea, Mario!” or “Folks, we’re getting off task.”

The one potential drawback I see is in the behavioral management. In a traditional classroom, I can whisper in a student’s ear or slip a note on a desk without everyone noticing. On Twitter, I either have to call out a troublemaker “in front of the whole class,” so to speak, or rely on the direct message feature, which the student might not check right then and there. I suppose I could say something like “Jeana, direct msg to you–please check” but that still calls attention to that student.



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