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Creating and Holding TransSpace

Written by Danielle Filipiak
February 01, 2012

I am including this short clip from a video shot from the second week in class.  You can hear my voice, and not much of the students’, but I include it for four reasons:

1) The physical set-up of the room- students sit in a circle every day.  There is a grouping of desks in the middle which helps me to conduct writing conferences and allows students to debate, work on projects collaboratively, or any other number of reasons that I group students;

2) I wanted to show how someone might begin introducing heavy questions like those introduced in my resource.  When I discuss my work with others, many people say- “man, that’s deep.  I don’t think my kids could ever get there.”  So not true.  They can, but there is a set of practices that must be in place; the physical structure of the room as well as the commitment to creating time to let students really grapple with the terms within such questions and create a space where they feel safe to do so is important.  

3) My role as a mediator.  I do not attempt to correct students’ definitions, even though I disagree with some of them.  Notice how a student asks a question and I respond, “Don’t ask me.  I’m not the expert.  Are you asking him?” (deferring to another student). I have to let students struggle- not just give them answers.

4)  Students grabbed my phone and started recording, b/c they thought it was important.  They viewed my mobile device as  a valuable tool, already two weeks into class, for documenting what happens…. (And we tell students not to use cell phones in class, EVER—That’s another resource

My point in sharing this is that conditons must be created for Tr@nsSpace to take root and grow, and much of it has to do with how the educator holds the space.  Feel free to share your comments below if you’d like to continue this discussion.