Regie Routman never shies away from challenging my practices. She leads me to a place of reflection. She challenges me to look more deeply at why I do what I do and to consider whether my practices result in student learning. That's exactly how I feel after encountering this quote of hers.
When I contemplate Routman's thought, a particular first-grade face comes to mind. I can see her sitting at my feet in our class' living room looking very much like an appropriate learner with her hands to herself and her eyes on me. She's also the one who expressed concern to her mom about a math concept she wasn't grasping. I'm relieved that her mom directed that information my way, because I dropped the ball and didn't have a handle on this little one's level of understanding.
From day one I consistently work on establishing a classroom of appropriate behaviors. I teach my kids the importance of eye contact. Yet those two things do not automatically result in comprehension. I believe they are important but not a guarantee. And honestly, being well behaved and using eye contact won't be of much use if the students aren't learning. Looks can be deceiving and, as Routman so wisely reminds me, cannot be the signal for successful comprehension.
As I get closer to another year in the classroom, I'm thinking, "How am I going to do a better job of consistently knowing what my kids know?"