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Blank Stares

"Huh?," he said.

"How many yards are there in 15 feet?," I asked.


"You know, if I had something that was 15 feet long, and I wanted to know how many yards that was, how could I figure that out?," I prompted.


"Another way to think of it is how do you convert feet to yards," I replied.

Blank stare.

As teachers, particularly those of us in middle school, we have all been faced with the blank stare.  It elicits many responses, but as educators, we are required to "provide individualized instruction" in these moments.  At least that is what the Evaluation Form states.

When we know that a skill has not been mastered, we are usually pretty good at planning for this.  But in those moments when we know that the skill should be mastered and we are faced with the blank stare, we tend to fall apart.

At least I do.  I'm not really proud of the fact that I ended up doing the aforementioned problem for the aforementioned student.  Tacky, right?

"Teacher provides individualized instructions when necessary."  While I have never been called out on this on a formal observation, I know in my teacher heart, that I don't always do this.  I like class to be fast paced.  I am impatient and I don't always want to slow down.

It is hard to admit that.  Individualized instruction is at the very core of what teachers ought to do.  But if there is an observation category that I know I need to improve - rather than giving you the blank stare - I'll just fess up now.  And plan to reteach feet to yards conversion tomorrow.


  1. We have a section for not letting students opt out and this conversation is a great example of continuing to prompt. But when you get that blank face and you have run out of ways to restate the question or prompt them, it is sometimes difficult not to move on someone else. Good luck with your "individualized instruction."

  2. I loved this post. Lots of good reflection happening here! I agree with Leigh, maybe just back up and re-phrase the question starting at the basics. I completely identify with this being a language teacher when you are speaking the language to them.


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