Lessons from a Go-Go Hypeman

Back when I lived in Maryland, I would listen to Go-Go music.  When I think back on my days as a “fan” this line always comes to mind is “Hold up, stop, pause, quit, change the bass and funk it up a little bit!”

Go-Go music, born and raised in Washington D.C.

I had to do just that with my instruction in my classroom.  With a moment to reflect, I realized my approach was not meeting my students where they were.  So how could I get them to where they needed to go if I didn’t first meet them where they were?

The Change Up

With my small group instruction, I implemented group captains, one person who would be the point of contact for their group.  The captain had to ensure several things, they needed to ensure their group was on task and they needed to make themselves available to answer questions of the group members.  In selecting group captains I had several strategies.  I chose students who were normally off task, I felt by being in charged they would be motivated to be on point.  I chose students who love to play in the background while the more assertive students take charge, in hopes they would have an opportunity to be assertive.  And I chose students who were natural leaders, which is pretty self explanatory.  

In addition to the group captains, I began rewarding the groups who were on tasks throughout the rotations.  Often times the students who do the right things are over looked because of the students exhibiting the negative behaviors.  I believe this is called positive reinforcement.  These ideas proved successful with most but not all.  I’m not ready to give up on that idea because it’s only been a week.

Go Slow To Go Fast

My good friend @turtletoms often says profound things, one of them being “You have to go slow to go fast”.  My toughest group, my 2nd academic class is a prime example of this statement.  They struggled the most being on task when doing everything except working out of a textbook.  Yes, I had them work from a textbook one day to show them what their year could look like.  Needless to say, they didn’t want to continue to do it.  Turtle reminded me of the importance of building stamina.  Fast forward to 2nd academic, our group rotations are 5-7 minutes long and in between each rotation students are given a 1 minute brain break to talk before getting refocused.  We had a discussion about what it means to build stamina and why they needed to do it.  The students were very candid about their experiences in math class prior to this year which was different from what they are experiencing this year (Thanks Evelyn Hines for this idea). This strategy was very successful.  By the end of the week I had students asking if they work through the brain break time, of course you can!!  As we continue through the unit and year, I will begin to add more time in which students should be focused.

Please stay tune as the journey continues.


  1. I love reading your blog. Your connections to your life experiences paint a clear picture of what’s happening in your classroom. The best part of it all is that the reflections you have are acted on and not just thought about. That’s the way to do it! Small successes right now will grow as the year goes on! I look forward to future posts! Have a great end of the week.

    • Thanks for the feedback Mike. As long as I can remember, I’ve tried to have a “don’t talk about it, be about it” attitude. This applies to just about every area of my life. There are times I fall short of this philosophy (i.e. Saying I’m going to read to my kids every night, but put it aside night after night). I’m still working on that :-).

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