attention, being a teacher, new teacher, Student-centered, talking

Your Lips May be Moving But I Stopped Listening a Long Time Ago

A question I kept asking myself last summer was, “Would I like being my own student?”  Beside bringing back a flood of unfortunate memories of my own schooling, it also stopped me in my prep tracks.  The answer was a resounding “No.”  I would have been that kid rolling their eyes at the teacher (yes, that happened daily), groaning every time a new group project was introduced (I hated group work),  and refusing to do homework out of sheer principle of boredom (and then argue with the teacher as to why it was pointless). Yikes, I am still that kid.  And so when a tweet by Jeremy MacDonald asked

“How do we get teachers past the teacher-centric use of tech? Modeling? Should I make them let me teach 30 mins in their classroom?” 

my mind started to spin.  Would simply asking teachers to sit through their own type of teaching, stop them in their tracks?  Or would the response be a more nuanced reflection discussing the need for various learning styles and types?  Or would we hear the stagnant adult claiming that, “they went through it so that is just how things are and to suck it up?”  I love that “suck it up” like school is just meant to be survived and not lived.

So how do we get teachers to rethink the traditional classroom setting?  Why is it we tend to forget our own school experience and then repeat it as teachers?  Why do most teachers come to teach prepared to speak most of the time?  I have been actively trying to stop talking and let me tell you, it is hard! Our curriculum is not set up for a lot of exploration, but rather mini activities packaged with a lot of careful monologue.  What is it about our way of educating that makes question-answer seem like the best fit?

So I start my own quiet revolution, using less words and still getting to the point.  Using less teacher-focused and more student-directed learning.  I even started thinking about it all as a learning process rather than how I am going to teach something.  In the end, we have to realize that if we want just test-taking students, then yes, talking at students will get us there.  If we want independent thinkers who are also creative and confident, then we have to stop talking.  So how do we stop talking?

7 thoughts on “Your Lips May be Moving But I Stopped Listening a Long Time Ago”

  1. I too am having a hard time talking less. I start every single class by reminding students where we left off and what they will be working on at the moment. Do I need to do that? I don't think so but I so want to start off by touching bases with all of them. I do find that if I go on and on I can see it in their faces (or not as the case may be) and I start feeling uncomfortable, like I've lost them. Sometimes they even tell me, "can we start working now." It's so embarassing! But I can't stop! I do enjoy talking to them and with them. I enjoy class discussions and sometimes they go well.So how do we talk less? I don't know!

  2. I've been thinking of this a lot lately. I've had comments from kids in the past that I talk too much and I've tried to cut back. It's hard. But I think I've succeeded in some respects because now they complain about other teachers talking too much and say they enjoy my class as much as they can enjoy school (not all say that, but enough to make me feel proud (is that bad)). But still, I've been wanting to put more focus on critical thinking and more onus on the student to come to understanding rather than being told what to think.I'm getting into tech more and really think that could be a part of the answer at least but . . .I'm open to suggestions if you've got them.(@sarcasticnem)

  3. Rethinking your path to intended outcomes. What are alternatives to the teacher on stage while kids sit and get? Partner work, team work, think pair, share, open-ended questions to explore. I don't agree that tech is the answer. The answer is to stop the nonsense of teaching to the test and provide opportunities for dialogue, deep thinking and real-life experiences. Treat your class as the gifted children they are and think about the best way to make sure they are ALL engaged as much as possible.

  4. How do we get teachers to talk less? I don't understand what colleges are doing if teachers coming in are just talking. Teachers tend to either teach the way they've been taught or, if they are like me, they were totally bored in school and do everything they can to teach differently than the way they were taught. I sometimes wonder if talking teachers do not see the need to talk less. It worked for them so why not their kids? They knew how to play the school game and be a good little student so why don't their students? Maybe that is the difference. The belief that school is to teach students how to be good students or the belief that school needs to develop thinkers, problem solvers and good citizens.

  5. As I walk in the halls I sometimes can't believe how much I hear my colleagues and how they seek to silence their students. Even the ones who mean well are clearly directing the proceedings – and you're right, it results in the kids staring out the window or worse. To my own fault, I also find myself doing the same thing. I would love for my kids to open up when I expect them – but that's not too fair.I must confess I haven't taught science at all this year, but the next unit is about plants. I've attended a few classes about science inquiry, and I'm excited to get the unit going and letting the students direct its path. It's a little against the grain, how I plan to do it, but I am confident it can be very rewarding for all of us.

  6. Would I like to be a student in my class….sometimes yes, and sometimes no…..Your post really has me thinking and reflecting. Starting tomorrow – less talking – more engaging lessons….Thanks for sharing!

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