Today my students completed their Lewis Carroll-type nonsense poems. As I informally conferenced with the kids, I practiced my long tradition of NOT holding a pencil. I don't know why, but as a student and I talk, if I have a pencil in my hand I feel an inner force, compelling me to make corrections or mark areas that need closer attention. If I have a pencil in my hand, I'm right there leaving a trail of lead to point out, underline, and even on occasion, draw sketches. After years of doing this (I'm a slow learner), I finally realized what I was doing!
I was doing the work! It was my pencil indicating where the run-on sentence lived; it was my pencil circling the misspelled word; it was my pencil pointing out the error in calculation, and it was my student who needed those challenges, not me. I should have known better, but the force within the pencil consumed my very being. What was I doing? From that "ah-ha" moment on I began teaching WITHOUT a pencil. It's kinda like asking students to share a computer; the kid using the mouse is absorbed in what he's doing, while the partner not controlling the mouse can vegg out and watch ...by the way, I'm not touching their mouse either.