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Remembering “Breaking The Plane” Solved My Classroom Problems This Week

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On Monday and Tuesday of this week, my English Language Learner classes were going fine, but students in my Theory of Knowledge classes were restless and not very focused.

I initially attributed it to a combination of nervousness over the implications of the Presidential election and eagerness for our week-long Thanksgiving break to begin on Friday. Then, this morning on the way to work, I realized, as I said in the last paragraph, that there didn’t appear to be any issues in my ELL classes and that the problems were taking place in my  afternoon TOK classes. I then began reviewing in my mind if I was doing anything differently in the classes since, really, my instructional moves are generally similar — lots of small group work, movement, fast-pace.

All of sudden, Doug Lemov’s phrase, “Breaking The Plane,” came to me. It’s the catchy term he uses to describe the age-old teacher move of not staying in front of the class and, instead, moving around the room(you can read his piece, What is ‘Breaking the Plane’?, which is on The Best Posts On Classroom Management list).

I’ve been feeling tired this week (I guess I’m ready for the break, too!) and realized I had been lazy in my afternoon TOK classes and not been “breaking the plane” – I’d been hanging out on my stool in the front.

This afternoon, I shook-off my tiredness in the afternoon and went back to “breaking the plane.”

Everything went back to normal.

Even though moving around the room is a common classroom management strategy (and one constantly encouraged Jim Peterson, our principal), I’m not sure if I would have identified the problem and the “fix” so quickly if it wasn’t for Doug’s easily remembered catchy phrase.

Another example that words do matter!

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

One Comment

  1. Hah! I always used “breaking the plane” to signify when students were tardy. (Plane of the door). This is great. And a good reminder

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