The Oldest Rules in School

September 2015


Dear Clinton Parents/Guardians:

What might be two of the oldest rules in school? Here are a couple possibilities. “Keep your hands and feet to yourself” and “Raise your hand to speak.” Please remind your students to keep doing the first one. But, Clinton teachers are challenging the second one.

The use of multiple opportunities to respond to teacher prompts is engaging and interactive for all students. Hand raising works well for assertive students but not as well for reluctant students or those who may not know the material so well. Unfortunately, in some cases, the less assertive students get used to checking out and thinking about something other than the lesson. So, teachers are often replacing hand raising with strategies to require all students to participate. For example, the teacher may gesture for students to hold their replies, while asking a question, then give another gesture to prompt a choral response from all students. In another instance, the teacher may use a call back where the answer is stated and students are signaled to restate the answer in unison. For more difficult questions, the teacher may ask students to have a discussion with a partner, then, share an answer with the entire class. Another engaging strategy requires students to prepare a response on an individual white board and when cued, hold up their boards for the teacher’s review.

These are a few response opportunities teachers are using as replacements to traditional hand raising. The goal is to engage every student in learning.


Terry Neddenriep, Principal