being a teacher, change, communication, control, students

What Do you Mean I am Not the Center of Attention?

This year I stepped out of the limelight.  Hard, cruel, and totally uncomfortable but I am learning to just be quiet.  And not so that I freak my students out with long stern stares or raised eyebrows, although that does happen on occasion.  But so that students can talk, learn, and explore.

You see when a teacher talks a lot, and teachers usually love to talk, students turn into drones.  We know all of the material already so we are so eager to tell the kids all about it.  Some call it excitement over curriculum, I just call it teacher mouth.  We talk to get them ready to them learn, we talk about the learning they are doing, and then we talk about what they have just learned.  Have we ever thought that maybe us being quiet would let them learn better, more, faster?

So I decided that this year would be it.  After reading brain research that shows that students pay proper attention to the same amounts of minutes as their age; oh yes, I have 9 minutes of attention time, I knew I had to stop talking.  Immediately, me ego tried to stop me; how will they ever learn anything if I don’t tell them all about it?  Well, that has been the great part.  Students seem to be actually learning more this way.  They are talking to their classmates about concepts, they are figuring things out on their own and most importantly; they are eager to get to work and learn something.

As the proud parent that lets go of the bicycle so junior can peddle on their own, I am learning to let go of my own ego.  We are so highly educated that we think the only way the students learn best is if we teach them.  Wrong, the best way for student to learn is to explore, and fail, and then explore some more.

So while my classroom may be a little more noisy, ok, a lot more noisy, this year, and lessons may be taking a bit longer because the students have to discover the answer rather than me pointing it out to them, there is also more excitement, more come on and do it and more get-to-it-ness then there has ever been before.  So even though I catch myself sometimes talking too long, I am also getting better at letting go.  After all, I know this stuff already which is why I  am the teacher, now let them have their turn in the spotlight.

8 thoughts on “What Do you Mean I am Not the Center of Attention?”

  1. Definitely a difficult transition for both the teacher and the student. I find many of my students cannot get past the need to get answers/reassurance from me and often times I find myself doing too much just to get the job done.

  2. Pernille, Oh so true but oh so hard. Teachers just wanta talk. :-)I'm proud of the effort you are putting forth to not talk and be a better listener. Learning noise can be exciting and rewarding for the students.

  3. Good for you! It can be challenging as a teacher to step out of the limelight. You get such a “high” from it. Though I think that practices such as Tweeting are helping all of us to use our finest words.I actually think that removing teacher-centered activities is a cure for, as you call it, “teacher mouth.” By limiting the amount of teacher centered activities, teachers become more creative with how topics/lessons are broached. It’s like in the game charades, with out speaking players have come up with other ways to convey their point.

  4. Thank you for your comments on this post. Once again, I blog to keep myself honest and I feel that if I put it out there in public then I will be even more determined to keep going with it. While I do not have a tried and true method for making this work yet a big thing I do is to stop talking. This sounds so easy but it is not when we have curriculums designed for 2 or 3 pages of teacher talk and then limited practice time. I often tell the students the goal of the lesson and then have them figure out how to get there in teams, kind of like teaching backwards ,or I simply as students to do the talking instead. I am not perfect, this is super hard, but it is so much better for all involved.I will keep posting about my noisy room. Thank you for your kind words and comments.

  5. Will you be my teacher? I am so glad I found your blog. Commented yesterday, too. I would love to see a video of you teaching. Can I observe you? *wink* We all learn differently. I have to hear it or read it, like the basic concept, then get lots of examples. At least with teaching, anyway. I have a job interview Monday to be a tutor!

  6. Great post Pernille. Talking less and listening more is a tough skill to tackle, but you are doing it.I laughed when I read your description of "teacher mouth." I must admit that I am guilty of having it. When I meet with my student teachers there is limited time and so much to tell them that I often find myself doing a monologue. Sharing ideas, learning together, problem solving and reflecting is so critical to their development as future teachers. Even though I get more than 9 minutes before they tune me out, I plan to make a conscious effort to let them do more talking as I do more listening. I will also share your blog with them so they will be aware of "teacher mouth" when they have their own class.

  7. Great post. It's an interesting dilemma the old teacher talk. When I was a teacher in the UK (I now work in NZ) they used to go on and on about reducing teacher talk and increasing pupil talk which was fantastic but when it came to inspection time the question of well why isn't there more work in the books or where's the physical evidence of learning and so on. It seems they wish me to record every single lesson (which is quite hard to do when the activity is kinaesthetic or orally based) therefore purposeful wasting my time and the children's documenting things that will not benefit the chidlren but only benefit the tick boxes on an inspectors form. Anyway, over the past few years, I've been doing my masters on formative assessment and spent the last 6 months doing my own research on pupil talk in the classroom. Very interesting stuff. I will be posting on it at some point in the future on my own blog.I like the suggestion of observing your lessons 🙂 perhaps the next stage in blogging would be video recording your own good practice for others to benefit from.

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