Distance Learning/Learning Distance

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was partcipating in the peer observation program this year. Well I had my first observation yesterday. My partner came to class and sat off to the side while I taught. I had asked her to note areas of concern that I have: do I allow students enough time to formulate answers? (In some cases no). Do I engage the room equally? (Not so much. One corner gets decidedly less attention). Was the class engaged? (For the most part, yes). I suspected as much on all these fronts. Still it stung just a little to have the less positive ones confirmed.

But there was something I do in the classroom that I was unaware of entirely. I touch my students. Not in a bad, creepy or inappropriate way. I’m not hugging them, but apparently I did pat a guy on the back and nudge another with an elbow and say, “What do you make of that?” One student came in late after I had broken the class into groups to work on separate projects. I didn’t want him to sit where he normally does, so I guided him (hands gently on shoulders) to a less populated table across the room.

My peer observer said the students didn’t flinch or find it odd. Quite the contrary. She thought it seemed natural, friendly and added to the easy rapport with students evident in my teaching. She found it refreshing. Even so, I Googled the subject of teacher-student physical contact after our debriefing session yesterday. Phew! There are a lot of sites out there that argue a teacher should never, never, never touch students. I truly had no idea that I did this. Oh bother. Now I’m going to be self-conscious about it and stop myself from doing what seemed completely natural.

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