1. Classroom Management

Talking Less Improves Student Learning

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What: Educators generally lean on their ability to explain concepts more thoroughly when students do not understand. The main goal of educators is to assist students in mastering concepts. However, the more educators speak the less students own their learning. Instead of jumping in to solve problems or explain concepts again, educators should provide the tools and time to encourage students to own their learning by doing while educators say less (source). 

How to: Most educators are willing to provide the tools and time needed but are unsure of how. Edutopia, in this article, offers the following suggestions. 

Start with Struggle: removing struggle for students removes the ability for students to take part in deep learning and understanding. Educators can assist by allowing students to experience struggle. Explain the concepts but then allow students to struggle through the concepts before jumping in to save the day (source). I love the moment when students finally understand a concept or are successful with someone they have struggled. 

Reduce Teacher Talk Time: students need to own their learning. A few strategies that can help shift the role of the teacher from lecturer to facilitator are:

  • Ask a student to time your mini-lessons so that they are limited to eight to 10 minutes. Ask a student to politely interrupt you when the allotted time has passed. 
  • Use video to allow students to watch direct instruction at their own pace, while you coach your students.
  • Limit your initial instruction to two minutes, and leave the rest of the time for students to do the work as you coach and provide actionable feedback. 
  • Observe students as they practice, allowing them to make mistakes, get feedback, and revise. Be transparent with students about the fact that you are in observation mode, which demonstrates that you value their work (source). 

Slow Down and Observe so that you can collect data, gather evidence of learning, and plan the next steps. “Create a chart with student names and particular behaviors you might observe (e.g., zoning out, engaged, fake reading, collaborating). Throughout class, mark what you notice in each student. Use this data to plan engagement mini-lessons or conferences. Note particular behaviors such as “perseveres when problem solving” or “tries a variety of solutions.” Observing students and noting what they need can better inform your next steps to move toward student ownership” (source). 

Provide Non-Teacher Scaffolds: When students struggle, they often look to the teacher for answers. Instead of establishing a teacher dependent culture, establish a culture where students seek answers from other places before asking the teacher. 

  • Establish critical partnerships with fellow students, and train students how to provide feedback to each other. 
  • Create “coach” name tags for students to wear when they are ready to provide feedback to classmates. 
  • Use clear teaching points paired with visuals. This can take the form of a note after a conference or an anchor chart in front of the class.
  • Ask students to teach the concept or strategy to another student or small groups (source). 

References:

All sourced information is hyperlinked as applicable above. 

TLDR (too long didn’t read):

Educators generally lean on their ability to explain concepts more thoroughly when students do not understand. The main goal of educators is to assist students in mastering concepts. However, the more educators speak the less students own their learning. Instead of jumping in to solve problems or explain concepts again, educators should provide the tools and time to encourage students to own their learning by doing while educators say less (source). 

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