The Power Zone: Reference to Fundamental Five

Teachers must work the room.

Before I begin with the tenets of “The Power Zone,” coined by Cain and Laird (2011), authors of Fundamental Five, allow me to intercept my thoughts on the power zone, which I relate as “working the room.”

Teachers must be proactive in engaging their students from beginning of class instruction until the end of class instruction.

One of the effective ways of engaging students is to have lessons prearranged and to have extra mini assignments for students in case you encounter a five to ten minutes gap.

This preparation should relate to the current lesson at hand or be related to an assignment students are already familiar or have been previously introduced in your class.

When you can smoothly transition from one lesson to another without students sighing or closing their books because they realize class time is almost over, you will have already continued students’ learning by teaching lessons bell-to-bell.

Usually, trouble can transpire in the classroom with a five to ten minute gap. To prevent possible troubles, keep students working until bell or at most until only a minute or two is lagging, which is enough time for students to gather their books to depart your classroom.

As tempting as it may be to allow students to sit and do nothing or to mingle with their peers for five to ten minutes before the bell rings, do not allow it.

Five to ten minutes is enough time for students to venture off task into mindless or belligerent events. This insight is important to remember, especially if the students are elementary to middle school.

Students enjoy having fun, and depending on their dispositions, fun may mean hitting or belittling or running around the classroom. It happens. Young kids will be foolish because [it’s] fun to them.

As a teacher, you must proceed with teaching by timing your lessons for maximum effect.

To help you execute lessons in a conducive manner, you may “work the room.” By this expression, I mean remain in the midst of students’ learning by mingling with them, by circling about the classroom, by stopping by students’ desks, by asking students direct, specific questions.

You will discern that by stopping by students’ desks that indeed they have questions that may lead you to share the answers with them and the entire class because other students may also need the identical help.

Your stopping by a student’s desk also provides an opportunity to catch a student doing something great in which you may compliment him or her. Compliments are important for students to hear about themselves to the point that they willl continue to learn.

Additionally, working the room means looking professional. Students respect a teacher who appears “good enough” to teach them. While many students may rarely mention a teacher’s dress of style, there is research that supports that students notice teachers’ styles and that students learn best from teachers who look “good.”

Thus, while “working the room,” ensure that students enjoy your proximity by your displaying a fashion style of comeliness and professionalism.

You yourself will feel “smart” as a teacher “working the room” because you look “smart.” Of course, if you are an elementary teacher, one who stoops or sits on the floor with students, you might need to wear appropriate pants and comfortable blouses that fit you professionally and will not cause the slightest embarrassment if you should lean over.

Yet, middle or high school teachers may professionally dress with blazers and long sleeves and suits and ties and pearls and other appropriate styles of clothing.

If possible, a female teacher should never wear a dress above her knees without wearing stocking. She should not wear slip on / slip off dresses and flip flops or sandals showing toes with bare legs exposed: not professional. 🤔

Think upon these things.

Equally, if a male teacher wishes to command respect, in addition to his “working the room,” he should wear a tie: It simply adds to the professionalism of instruction and is the best way to proactively connect with students and motivate them to receive instruction.

“Work in the Power Zone” (Fundamental Five) is a similar idea to “work the room.” Cain and Laird express “location” as the fundamental idea of “Work in the Power Zone.”

The first location mentioned in Fundamental Five, where teachers usually situate themselves, is at the computer desks.

Working from their desks allows “teachers to instruct their students as well as conduct administrivia duties—check roll, grade assignments, enter grades, check emails. . . ” (P. 41).

Working from the computer desk also depicts teachers participating in no particular activity. Rather they watch over students from their desks.

The authors of Fundamental Five deem working from the teacher’s desk is the least effective way to teach a class. (How can a teacher use his or her “withitness” technique [watching out for troublemakers] sitting at his or her teacher-desk?) 😟

The second location where teachers teach is from the podium. Teachers may stand at a podium or stand in front of class or stand at side of the class. Either way, the teacher instructs as being the “sage” on stage: Teacher speaks: students listen. 👨

Still, teaching from the podium is not the best location to teach, although teaching from the podium is more effective than teaching from the teacher’s desk.

The best location, according to Fundamental Five, for teachers to teach is in the “Power Zone.”

Teaching in the power zone represents teaching within proximity of the students. Teaching where the students sit allows the teacher to monitor students while students are working.

Teaching in the power zone decreases discipline issues. When teachers are close by students while students complete assignments, many, if not all, students will remain on task, and even student achievement will increase because teacher monitors learning by working in the power zone.

Work in the power zone also allows the teacher to provide one-on-one instruction, which is a teaching tool necessary for some students who need the teacher’s validation, “You are completing the assignment the correct way.”

In the power zone, teachers position themselves right in the middle of the action. Teachers may respond immediately to instructional changes when they work in proximity of the students as well.

Teachers may conduct formative assessment on the spot. They may take good mental notes by being close by. . . They may visualize immediately the aid necessary to make a difference in student learning: “Yes, I see that you understand,” or “Wait, let’s solve the problem this way.” Working in the power zone aids instruction.

In essence, Fundamental Five, states that the teacher who spends a significant amount of instructional time in the power zone is better able to accurately address specific student misconceptions than they are able to address specific problems if they are not working in the power zone.

Teachers may also increase student success by helping students add depth and breadth in the construction of their assignments. Adding depth and breath is a skill many students renege due to not knowing how to add more information. Teachers may help students when they are near students.

Fundamental Five ends by urging teachers to make a commitment to working in the zone; to purposely arrange the classroom to facilitate teacher movement; to limit common distractions, such as turning off computer to not be disturbed by checking it while teaching; to purposely keep organized; to use time spending it among students to aid their learning” (p. 48).

Thus, you as a teacher must understand that to spend time in the power zone means to improve classroom instruction. You will be close enough to students to address and to assess.

Fundamental Five offers useful suggestions for aiding student-learning. Similarly, “work the room,” my added two cents, complements “work in the zone.” Teachers should be prepared for instruction; they should be professional in their demeanor; they should work within proximity of students, and they should maximize learning for all.

Working the Room or Being in the Power Zone will help you as a teacher shine by being among your students, and your students will learn effectively and appropriately just by being close to you. ✅


Cain, S. and Laird, M.(2011). Fundamental Five. Cain & Laird.

Cynthia Mathews

Doctor of Curriculum and Instruction

Classroom Teacher




Published by cynthiamathews

I'm an innovative spirit, one who seeks new and practical ways to learn about life. I enjoy exploring innovative styles to motivate people to persevere in a challenging world. Having a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Curriculum & Instruction, I am inspired to maintain a life long learning experience that will allow me to share my knowledge with others. My expertise includes detecting apathy in individuals and prescribing ways to motivate them to be their best. To initiate this endeavor, I create and conduct personal and professional development programs. I write briefs and pamphlets and instructional guides to inspire, and I speak--upon request--to those who need a reminder of their inner excellence. My blog's main focus is to document my research on motivation and curriculum instruction and to share with subscribers the understanding, the ideas, and the strategies that result from my research. I am a native of Alabama, a teacher, and an author. I look forward to learning with you.