Siobhan Curious reports that two of her three classes are calm, focused, and respectful. But the third has been “a bit of a pain in the ass.” They find a lot of things funny and generally create a “frenetic, nervous and silly atmosphere.” This is a remedial English class, and it meets in the late afternoon, when their “brains are buzzing from a day’s worth of Red Bull and adolescent drama.” She realized she had to do something about this right away, or it was going to be a difficult year.
Then she remembered something a friend had mentioned to her. The friend lets her students chatter for the first five minutes and then has them sit in silence for a minute before the start of the lesson.
Siobhan Curious calls it “one minute of solitude.” She tried it with her class, explaining the reasons and setting the rules (any talking, and they start the minute over again). Even though two boys came in late, it seemed to help; there was less “foolishness,” and the work got done. She plans to do it every day:
I’m a bit nervous about starting every class this way, but I’m hoping that, instead of becoming tedious, it really will be a tiny oasis of peace for some of them. And perhaps some of them will learn that if they can’t sit still and quiet for 60 seconds, it’s probably causing them some problems that they should really address.
I love the idea of one minute of solitude, not simply a minute of silence. The point is not only to quiet down, but to be alone with one’s thoughts for just a little while.
Read the whole story–she tells it wonderfully.