By Teresa Johnson

Teresa A Johnson

Teresa A Johnson

INGREDIENT  – Hidden Rules

Hidden rules are real!

Thirteen years ago when I first traveled to Texas to become a trainer for my school district, I quickly decided this four-day training would be just another k-12 professional development session I was forced to endure. However, after 13 years of sessions and training experience, aha! Process training still remains at the PINNACLE of the PD experience. My classroom experience has become more positive as a result of these sessions. The first information I heard that drew me in was from Dr. Payne. When I first heard her speak about Hidden Rules, I was intrigued; however, I still was curious if these rules really could apply to my classroom experience.

Hidden Rules GraphicAt the beginning of one school year, I found out firsthand…

Leaving the regular program to teach high ability and gifted students as an itinerant teacher meant also teaching in available spaces. The majority of times the available spaces were literally, closets. On many occasions, there would be 15 desks crammed into a tiny space. After five years of teaching in small spaces, one of the schools I served moved to another school with significantly more room. So, the principal decided to reward me with, in my opinion, a cavernous room. I was excited; however, in trying to decorate and arrange furniture, I became slightly disoriented and found all of the extra space a little unsettling. I placed my desk and the students’ desks in one corner and could not figure out what to do with all of the other corners and the space in the middle. Moreover, the students felt slightly out of place, as they were not used to the extra room. I finally worked up the nerve to go to the principal and said, “You are going to think I am crazy, but I would like to ask for a smaller room when one comes available.” She looked at me very strangely, but honored my request. After this encounter, I knew the Hidden Rules were for real and most definitely applied to my classroom experience.

I recounted this story to Dr. Paul Slocumb and I had never heard Dr. Slocumb laugh so loud and so long. He put his face near my face and said to me, “You see, I told you! The rules are for real!” I never forgot. I went back and reread Dr. Payne’s A Framework for Understanding Poverty for more perspective. When teachers say, “I don’t know why these students won’t get off the wall!” I share my cavernous room story with them. Their perspective changes and I find they sometimes seek me out for other issues.

The HIDDEN RULES ARE REAL! Know them and share them with colleagues. They will see students from a different perspective.

Both A Framework for Understanding Poverty and Removing the Mask deal more with Hidden Rules if you’d like more information.

RECIPE TO BE CONTINUED…Next: Ingredient – Meaningful Curriculum




Payne, R. K. (2005). A Framework for Understanding Poverty. Highlands, TX: aha! Process, Inc.