When I was little, in Year 6, I distinctly remember sitting with my back to the room. Away from the board, away from the teacher. In fact, I remember staring at the sink. I got away with it all, as if not seeing my face made me invisible.
Hard questions? Avoided.
Targeted discussion? Dodged.
Pulling faces at the other pupils staring into the room? A resounding success! (I recall one boy getting sent out the class for laughing - my stomach sank as I prayed he wouldn't dob me in).
Many years later, as a teacher myself, my opinions couldn't be any more opposite.
I want my students to be on the edge; "It could be me!" Whether a closed question or an open suggestion, I need you to be thinking about your next move. But sometimes I think teachers go on autopilot; we always have a 'most said name'.
I've tried all manner of laminated names and lolly-sticks, but this is my current solution...
So, numbers 1, 6, 11, 16, 21 and 26 are on the same table. They are arranged so that an odd number and an even number are next to each other. Therefore, we can say..."odd number speaks first" during paired discussion, or "highest number listens" when reading our writing aloud or explaining our method. Some might say petty, but we've all had classes where valuable minutes are wasted by the children aimlessly debating such a simple choice.
Why not the lolly sticks?
We have a lot of different groups in our school; it'd take at least 3 sets of sticks to have every name included. They'd get tipped over, lost, mixed up. Hassle. The numbers count for every lesson, every pupil. We'll see how it goes.
When I first met my class, I also used these numbers to arrange their 'home seats'. Although I can read every file and enjoy every anecdote from their past teachers, until I know them and their most up-to-date behaviour, it's difficult to seat strangers. Therefore, for the first week, we agreed the first person in the register sits at number 1, the second at number 2, and so on. It turns out every 5th person is a boy! The horror! Just imagine. A table of boys. No calm girls to keep them in check, model being quiet, get them off the topic of football and Xbox!?!
Needless to say that changed very quickly.