All teachers should hit the bottle and every day too.
More specifically, they need to hit the side of the bottle.
What I’m talking about is the thixotropic effect.
We need to imagine that our classes are like tomato ketchup. They need to be stressed to get things moving.
I don’t mean making children miserable and depressing them but getting them moving. We might start them off on an activity and everything flows but things can stop moving and they can get stuck. Yes, our lessons and learning activities need a shake because they are inherently thixotropic without the vigour and force of a teacher.
Ketchup is a good example of a thixotropic substance. It can be quite stubborn and refuse to move even when held upside down. Give the bottle a good shake or hit the side of the bottle and bingo, it starts to flow freely. It’s when the bottle is vibrated that the ketchup temporarily liquefies and flows.
So yes, it’s good to agitate your class, you need to to make sure that they keep flowing and keep going. Teachers are agitators but with the best intentions. They cause vibrations to happen so learning can take place.
The mechanical work of motivating and chivvying serves a valuable purpose. If children are allowed to stand (or sit!) without our input then some can become stiff and unpourable.
Children most definitely can be left alone on an activity but even the most enthusiastic can’t sustain it without being shaken or stirred. Leave them alone too long and they go back into being a stiff liquid.
So, to summarise, our classes are highly thixotropic. If left standing without agitation, they can quickly thicken but with some vigorous mixing, they become less viscous and more fluid.
But, it’s not just children that need this. Any middle leader or subject coordinator will be aware of thixotropy.
You start any new initiative or idea at the start of term and everyone is fired up and fully behind it. Things are in full flow for a while but as teachers get busy and the term starts to bash away at people’s sanity, particular initiatives fall by the wayside unless a shearing force is applied. This force has to come from middle and senior leaders.
Any project needs maintaining and that means the initiative bottle needs hitting and shaking otherwise the ideas can quite easily turn into a jelly-like substance or they just come out in a dollop from time to time.
So, keep hitting the bottle, be an agitator and keep stressing!