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What social skills does a kid need for today’s lesson?

Date: May 24th, 2016
By: Polly Bath

Polly Bath: I look at my lesson plan, and I do something like this. I break it up into two parts. I ask myself, “What are all the academic things, or prerequisites, if you will, that the child needs to have in order to participate in the way I’m going to deliver the instruction?”

Then I ask, “What are all the social skills that kid needs to have in the way I’m going to deliver the instruction?”

If it’s a science lab, and I’m going to ask the kids to break up in groups, and they’re all going to use a yardstick and two Matchbox cars so we can measure speed and velocity, what’s that going to look like to a group of kids who don’t know what to do with two Matchbox cars and a yardstick? It’s going to be a mess! Which means I have to go over there and teach all the social stuff they’re going to have to have to use this the way I’m going to deliver it before I can even get to the academic piece.

“We’re using a yardstick. Here is how you’re going to use it. Here is how you’re not going to use it. Here is why we’re using it (and bla bla bla).”

“I’m going to get you into a group, learning math facts.”

You have to learn to take turns. You’ve got to listen to one another. You’ve got to anticipate when it’s your turn. Think about the delivery of the curriculum. I have to look at my audience and say, where is my audience in cognition, communication, social-emotional, whatever? How am I going to deliver it to get the best bang from my buck?

That’s what makes us teachers. Anybody can read the scope and sequence of a textbook and the directions, but not everybody can teach, because teaching’s hard. It’s all about how you deliver it. Know your audience.