You’ve met Dan Hilliard. In this excerpt he has has an epiphany, although he does not quite recognize it at the moment:

One day as he was taking attendance, he noticed that Sam, who sat in the middle of the middle row, was absent. Sam had never missed class. As he wondered, a streak of sunlight crossed Sam’s desk. Slowly, Dan stepped forward, hesitated, and then moved towards Sam’s seat. He sat down, remaining still and pensive. His students began to whisper to each other but soon became quiet. As he slowly looked around, he saw them looking at him—and at each other. He felt them behind him, as well. Occasionally, he had moved the desks into a horseshoe, but his students were used to seeing his face, and except for those sitting in the front row, saw only the backs of the heads of peers. Now they were looking at one another, wondering what their teacher was about to do. (He had surprised them before.) But Dan remained quiet and pensive.

After a few minutes, he asked a question. Later, when telling the story, he could not remember the question, but it was one that he asked to encourage discussion. After a long minute, Mary responded. Instead of restating her idea and elaborating, Dan remained quiet. After another silence, Peter commented on Mary’s point, which alerted several others. After a few minutes, Rebecca asked Mr. Hilliard for his thoughts. As he was about to launch forth, he hesitated. Then, he asked another question. The discussion resumed and soon broke up into small-group conversations.

For Dan’s full story, purchase Teaching from the Middle of the Room: Inviting Students to Learn (Stetson Press, 2010) from Amazon.com.

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