Some of the most challenging days I have are training days. Let’s face it. Teachers are busy and few are interested in spending 2 hours after school being trained on what may seem as additional work/mandates. Knowing this, I make every attempt to ensure my trainings are worthwhile and well received.
I have little interest in teaching strategies that won’t make it into the classroom. The best way to ensure usage is by tapping into teacher interest and getting my idea across.
While researching, I ran across the article,
Practical Ideas for Improving Student Participation
It states a list of solutions to common adult teaching problems:
- Use some version of the think-pair-share strategy that gets students talking with each other before anyone answers and then ask students to report, not what they think, but what their partner said.
- Use the three-hand rule and don’t call on anyone until there are three hands raised.
- Politely refuse to call on students who have already spoken two or three times. “Thank you, but we need to hear from others.” Walk to a different part of the room and speak directly to those students. “I haven’t heard from any of you folks. Please share your thoughts.”
- Wait. Research is very clear: Teachers frequently over-estimate how long they wait after asking a question before doing something else. Let there be silence. Students who are not as articulate or self-confident often need more time to frame an answer.
- Recognize that students are often afraid to disagree with each other. Address those fears with guidelines and examples illustrating constructive ways to disagree.
- Recognize that some students agree because it’s the easy thing to do. Use strategies, possibly even assignments, that get them prepared to participate in a discussion.
- Disagree, not necessarily with students, but with the theories and ideas of others in the field. Do so respectfully and constructively thereby modeling how and why disagreement is valuable.
- If some disagreeing comments are posted, call attention to them, pointing out what they contribute to the discussion.
- Solicit a student response and then ask another student to respond to what the first student said.
- Ask more open ended questions so that a variety of different answers are possible.
- Really, really listen to what students say. Ask an important, interesting question and then record (on the board or electronically) a variety of student responses before commenting on any of them. Summarizing what a student says cannot be done accurately without listening closely.
- Use student answers, comments or ideas subsequently. “Remember when Tom suggested that such and such might explain that behavior?”
- Show that you value student comments. If you use an example contributed by a student, let the other students know where the example came from.
I’m going to keep these ideas in mind. I hope you do as well.