In college in the previous millennium, I had the pleasure of becoming good friends with a fellow New Englander out of Concord, Massachusetts. These days he’s a physical education teacher in Pennsylvania, but back then we were simply undergrads who liked robust, raucous, and challenging dialogue. We were once engrossed in a conversation with some other friends when I or someone else in the group suddenly had our A-ha! moment. My friend recognized the sudden understanding and said, “Light dawns on marble head.”
This, of course, is an expression with a double meaning. If you are from the area, you know this could simply refer to the fact that on the north shore of Massachusetts, rays of the sun first set foot on the shores of Marblehead, a wonderful small town with classic seafaring roots and all the photogenic appeal that goes along with it. Light dawns on Marblehead. On the other hand, whether from the north shore (written as North Shore by anyone from Massachusetts) or Cheyenne, Wyoming, you know that light dawns on marble head also means “Hey! He got it. He understands now!” The aforementioned A-ha! moment.
Light dawning on marble head is an exciting thing to witness in the classroom. It is one of the (we hope) frequent perks of being a teacher. Whether we recognize it through a student’s arched eyebrows, suddenly upright posture, exuberantly raised hand, unsolicited burst of “I get it,” or some combination of all these, we want to witness it as often as possible.
The question I have for you today is this: when is it appropriate to spotlight an individual’s A-ha! moment? Perhaps it is something to make note of with the student one-on-one at a later time. Perhaps it is something you want to highlight immediately so that the rest of the class might also find light dawning on their own marble heads.
Take on me with your own thoughts and opinions about A-ha moments. Your ideas and stories are eagerly awaited in the comments.
*The first teacher to correctly identify in the comments section my pop culture reference in the previous paragraph wins an autographed photo of yours truly and a free book from The Mailbox.