A few days ago in a 9th grade English class, one of our teachers told her students—with some apprehension—to behave themselves because she had to step out of the classroom. As she was leaving the room, Cedric (not his real name) stood up. “Oh, Cedric,” she muttered to herself. But before she could turn around and tell him to sit down, she heard him start to lead the daily vocabulary activity.
The class was reading The Secret of the Yellow Death by Suzanne Jurmain. A few days before, Cedric had had a lengthy debate with another classmate about why the scientists had to do yet another experiment to prove their theory. Ultimately, after rereading the text a few times, the two had agreed on an answer. They had shared their thinking with the class, pointing other students to the evidence that had convinced them. Their classmates listened to them, thought about what they had to say, and still disagreed. But after some back-and-forth led by the teacher, many students seemed to change their minds—they now agreed with Cedric and his partner.
Cedric stood up to lead the vocabulary activity because he wanted more of that—talking about an interesting text, being listened to, having an impact on his classmates. If the vocabulary activity gave him another chance to work with his classmates to understand this book, then, of course, he would stand up and get the class started.