Tell me, I forget.
Show me, I remember.
Involve me, I understand.
At one point in my teaching career, this would have been the time when I would have sent my students back to their seats and said, “Now I want you to try this with your own poems.”
And I know what would have happened. I would have been bouncing from frustrated student to frustrated student re-explaining line breaks and what I wanted them to do. While they would have remembered what I wanted them to do, they would not have understood the task.
This is why I don’t stop at modeling when I am introducing new concepts. The Chinese proverb says: “Involve me.” Guided practice is my answer to “involve me.” At this point in my poetry lesson, I asked students to pair off and look at the first part of a poem written by Christiana, another student in the class. We listened to how Christiana wanted the poem to sound and as she read, we used red pens and drew line breaks. Afterward, we practiced rewriting the poem so that it looked the way Christiana intended it to sound.
Then, I knew they were ready to try it on their own.
When they went off to write, it was calm and peaceful in the classroom. The poems written by these first graders were inspired and beautiful. And most importantly, they appeared on the page the way these writers wanted them to sound.
As a student teacher nineteen years ago, I had an outstanding mentor who reminded me daily of the importance of modeling. For years, as I sat down to plan, I’d hear Patti Reagan’s voice saying, “Model, model, model.” Today, these words still echo in my planning brain but I’ve modified the mantra just a little bit. Because I am so committed to helping children understand, I chant:“Model, model, model. Involve, involve, involve.”