Today I made a connection between stirring pancake batter and circling. Here it is:
When we stir the batter, the lumps go away and the batter is smooth. That is just what we want to do with our repetitive questions when we circle. We want to just keep making circles with the wisk in the bowl until the lumps are all gone.
If we don’t circle an expression enough – and most of us have experienced this – we know that simply by looking in our students’ eyes. There is that lumpy vacant look on their faces when we don’t circle enough. We must learn how to see those lumps and recognize them, to keep that wisk moving to guarantee our students’ success in decoding the CI.
The circling doesn’t have to be in any certain order, either. We have made all of this too complicated. Of course, the order of circling, when internalized because you went to Susie’s trainings at NTPRS, is a good thing to have – it makes the process effortless for both you and the kids. But there is no perfect formula in the circling sequence that we learn at conferences.
We just need to be interested in creating language in association with our kids, in co-creation with our kids. And doing that is so much easier for the kids when we stir the lumps out of our CI instruction.
So, even if you want to go on to a new thought in the comprehensible input, don’t. Hang in there for five or ten more reps. That is why there are three locations in stories. When you circle the exact right amount, instead of lumpy eyes, you will see bright clear eyes looking back at you – because they understand!
Remember also – if they don’t understand, then they probably won’t be able to behave properly. I wouldn’t either. I would do anything to create the illusion that I understood, or that it was too easy for me, or something else, lest my classmates sense my discomfort and fear. In that sense, proper instruction (slow enough, circled enough, etc.) precedes discipline.
The Problem with CI
Jeffrey Sachs was asked what the difference between people in Norway and in the U.S. was. He responded that people in Norway are happy and