Stay Put and I’ll be Right There

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got from a fellow colleague was a surprising one.

It happened while I was student teaching, and while I was walking around conferring with students.  It looked like I had an actual tail made of third graders.  I was like a giant third grader magnet.  These little tiny children were up out of their seats, following me all over the room.

Now I am not a “sit at your desk and don’t move a muscle” type of teacher, I get that kids have to move, but this was impossible to manage.  My cooperating teacher sat me down after school and said, “Tell them to stay put, and you’ll be right there.” I have to admit that in my head at the time I was thinking, but they need help! They need my help! I must have done a terrible job teaching the lesson and I must deserve this never ending trail of questions and interruptions!

She explained that the moment they get up and follow you, they’ve stopped working and thinking.  If they stay at their desk they may actually be able to work through some of the problem. Then, they know that they can catch you as you walk by. Her words also made me realize that this system is more fair to those students who would never in a million years get up and ask you for help.  It evens out the teacher time as you confer and work and think with your students.

So new teachers, the next time you’ve got a trail of students swarming you, tell them to stay put and you’ll be right there!



  1. I had a trail of first graders in front on me just yesterday, waiting for my help. It occurred to me to ask them try working on their problem while they were waiting for me, and, guess what, the time it was their turn they had made progress on what we were working on!! …for which I gave them ample praise.I was able to attend to more problems more quickly, while at the same time giving out bits of individual attention that they like so much. I absolutely see the advantages of asking students to stay in their seats and work, but as I near the end of the day I sometimes enjoy having students come to me!



  2. It seems so simple, but many of us end up in the same situation everyday and we let the kids waste the time (deliberately or not) while they wait for our help. Thanks for this short and sweet post with such excellent advice! Do you also teach your kids strategies for managing any ‘obstacles’ that arise while they wait for your attention? I would love to hear more about them.



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