blog post written by Arianne Dowd

Wowie Zowie! (Or in Latin, Papae!)

Justin Slocum-Bailey is absolutely amazing! I enjoyed every minute of his session!

The points below were some of the emphasis in his session:

  1.  #Tweakonething: You don’t have to adopt all the changes at one time. Pick one thing least different from what you do, and tweak it. Then ask a colleague to observe and notice that one thing. Ask for feedback.

Are you the person who listens and cares? We teach students to be more like us. Students subconsciously take in what we do and as a result end up more like us. For example, if we are calm the class will sense the vibe and behave the same. If we are animated the class will take on a similar persona.


Justin Slocum-Bailey

Here are some of  my other favorite parts of this session:

I really love this brain break that Justin shared with us! He called it ‘Count to Eleven.’

Students form a circle. They need count to eleven as a class. Each person calls out a number but when two people say the same number you have to go back to number 1 and restart your count. You can time it to see how long it takes and then do it again to see if they can beat their time. Justin recommended using this as a reading strategy too with music lyrics or poetry.

Our breath

Justin taught us how to increase energy and calm our with our breath. When you breathe in, body prepares to do various things like shutting down parts of the brain where you make good decisions. When you breathe out, it slows down your heart rate. By lengthening out-breath you can trick your body into being more calm and send more blood to parts of the brain needed for smart decision making.

Justin recommended that if you are anxious about a class that you should lengthen out-breath on purpose before that class. Three elongated out-breaths will help in order to begin to feel the physical effects of calming techniques. However on the other hand you should breathe in when you need energy.  Trick your body into sending more blood into large muscle groups and other key areas by lengthening your in-breath.

Our voice is a simple and powerful teaching tool:

My greatest takeaway about voice is that we do not have to always be loud and in a teacher-voice. Save your voice only for moments when it is completely necessary.

Body and Space: We need to be intentional about where we put things in our classrooms. We should have different locations for set purposes. Justin recommends having a specific spot for giving instructions which helps classroom management. Location is linked to meaning and memory. However location is also important for building rapport. When we need to talk to a student one on one we should be at eye level. Justin says variation in how we walk or use our space does not have to mean anything however it will enhance focus because brains immediately tune in to change. This idea seems very similar to what Carol Gaab says about brains craving novelty.

What is the ultimate voice technique? Silence! For three reasons,

  1. Contrast. With dead silence, people will listen to it.
  2. There is so much noise in student lives, that when there’s calm, a lot of great learning can happen.
  3. Save your own voice and use it less.

We want to think on our feet as teachers and respond in the moment because the moment is precious but we also need silence. Train your students that it is a ‘thing’ in your class atmosphere.

I am really excited to implement these techniques in my classroom this year! And a thousand thank-yous to Justin who went well over the time in the session to coach everyone who wanted to learn more!


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