A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to observe classrooms in a school involved in its third year of implementing Dr. Payne’s work. To determine the level of implementation and educational impact of the work at each long-term site, classroom observations are conducted using a model fidelity rubric. As I traveled from room to room in this building, I noticed that every teacher I observed used the adult voice to teach and discipline. Teachers used discipline as a tool for teaching students about choice and consequences, not as punishment. Some teachers admitted that it was difficult to use the adult voice continuously, but the effort translated into the best example of mutual respect I have observed in one school.

In classroom after classroom the teachers used movements as mental models to help students understand the hidden rules they bring to school, among many other things.

In one first-grade classroom a teacher used an exercise movement to teach students to count by twos, a hand movement with five fingers up to count by fives, and another with ten fingers up to count by tens. Movement, rhythm, and a catchy rap-like tune provided students with an energetic, entertaining mental model to bridge the gap between concrete and abstract learning.

In a kindergarten classroom a poster of formal and casual register was posted close to the floor by the circle area of the room. The teacher referred to it during class meetings to teach students the registers of language. Many classrooms had desks grouped together with students working in small groups throughout the building. Classrooms were seldom silent. Students were actively engaged in their tasks, and appropriate and task-related talking was the norm. If student voices became too loud, the teacher used a nonverbal signal to lower the noise level. What a wonderful day!

It is my intention to share my experiences and insights as I consult and present Dr. Payne’s A Framework for Understanding Poverty and Understanding Learning. If you have a success story like the one I shared, or a question, please respond—and look for my reply!

-Judy Weber

About the consultant:

Judy Weber of Yorktown, Indiana has been a professional educator since 1986, teaching children in the classroom, training teachers in effective practice and supporting low performing schools as a mentor through TOPHAT, a partnership between the Indiana Department of Education, and the Mid Continent for Research and Learning (McREL). As a current board member of the Indiana Staff Development Council, Weber was instrumental in developing the Gold Star Award, an award focused on effective practice and professional development to increase student performance. Weber was awarded the Christa McAuliffe Fellowship in 1998, and is a 1999 graduate of the National Staff Development Academy. As an educational consultant for aha! Process since 2002, she has served as a presenter, a mentor to schools engaged in long term implementation of Dr. Payne’s A Framework for Understanding Poverty, and the coordinator of Dr. Ruby Payne’s trainer certification workshops.