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"Everyone pause for just a moment," I said.
At that moment, if everyone didn't groan, pause, or contemplate ignoring my request, then I'd be surprised. It was Election Day, a day of professional development in our school system, and I was co-presenting an escape room simulation to about 25 teachers. There were puzzles, brain-teasers, and problems to solve, as well as keys to win and a treasure box with prizes.
Teachers are generally compliant, and most of them went along with turning their papers over temporarily in order to "spy on themselves" as learners, reflecting on the types of thinking and work they were doing insofar as it relates to 21st century competencies.
One group just couldn't bring themselves to hit the pause button.
The reflections were great, and after a short conversation, they all got back to work. Frustration in the room rose as one group experienced success and collected a key. Then others. One of the group collected another key...
"Pause for a moment," I said.
Groans, eye rolls, papers turned. Except for that one group.
We talked about engagement and how hard it is to be interrupted when you're on a roll. How you have to regain your energy for a task once it's been paused. And yes, how we do that to students.
That one group ignored the conversation, trying to continue their work under the radar. (I can't say I was cheering for them to solve any of the puzzles. I might have even been secretly happy when they came up with wrong answers.)
By the end of the session, two of the groups had solved all the problems and gathered keys. They decided to split the prizes, then shared with the rest of the group. They also shared the answers, at which time one of the participants from my not-compliant-at-all group became visibly angry.
"That's not fair," she said. "..."
"You didn't tell everyone," she said. "..."
"We would have," she said. "..."
At later times, many people apologized for her, but at that moment in time, her reaction also led to important reflections for the room. Our students not only need to learn critical thinking skills, collaboration strategies, self-directedness, and citizenship, but they also have to handle injustices and unfairness with dignity and resilience.
And...our students aren't the only ones!