Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, teacher?

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Teachers, stop talking! I mean not really. Not entirely. But, seriously, stop talking so much! I am in lots of classes, and in most of them, I am in there no more than about 30 minutes, and I get bored. Like really bored. Like brain-numbing bored. So, what about your kids? Have you stopped long enough to look at them? I mean really look at them? Heads thrown back. Eyes glazed over. Breathing in and out and in and out. Heavy breaths. Shoulder- slouching sighs. Saying, “Teacher, please stop talking. I’m trying to be engaged here, but I no longer hear the words. You may as well be Charlie Brown’s teacher. ‘wonk…wonk…wonk…’ I can’t get a thought in, much less a word.” This article is meant to be a bit  tongue –in- cheek. However, there’s a major truth, here, and this is it. YOU ARE TALKING WAY TOO MUCH! Your mini lessons have become ultra-maxi lessons. Reviews have become re-teachings. Long, super long, re-teachings. Demonstrations have become lectures in which you just talk and talk and talk. You talk as you write. You talk about what you’re thinking as you’re writing. You keep reminding them (or yourself) that you’re talking about what you’re thinking as you’re writing. And you add in connections and reminders and little stories about yourselves. Have you ever noticed that you ask questions and then answer them yourself? For example: “ What is the difference between a simile and a metaphor? (and you pause for about two seconds) A simile has ( another pause) like or as. Right? And a metaphor? You know the answer. ( pause)… compares two things without using like or as.” True story. And there they are. The kids. Sitting there. Heads thrown back. Eyes glazed over. Breathing in and out and in and out. Heavy breaths. Shoulder- slouching sighs. Picking at lint and shoelaces. Some even try to look engaged. After all, they really care about you and there’s a visitor in the room and they really want you look good. They want you to shine. You’re their teacher. And  you won’t stop talking. While talking about this with some teachers, I’ve learned a few things. Some teachers say that they talk a lot because they’re not sure what questions to ask. Some say they talk a lot because they’re a little afraid of the questions the kids might ask. Some say they talk a lot because they think that’s what’s expected of them. That that’s what teaching is. And when I ask them how they will know what the kids are learning, what misconceptions they may have about the learning prior to releasing them to independent practice, they usually sit there for a moment, and they sort of look like their kids. Heads thrown back. Eyes glazed over. Breathing in and out and in and out. Heavy breaths. Shoulder- slouching sighs. But, then, they lean forward, looked me square in the eyes, and saying something like, “Oh my God! I really am talking too much. I never thought about the kids’ talking and what it could reveal to me about what they are thinking and learning.” So, here’s a challenge for you my dear teacher friends. You know what it is. Stop talking! I mean not really. Not entirely. But, seriously, stop talking so much. And listen. You might be surprised that your kids are actually learning, that they actually care about learning. That they have much to say.      

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