Teach Less, Ask More

So here’s the thing. It is not your job to do all the talking… An odd idea for a teacher, I know.

But too often, classrooms are filled with teachers who talk and students to listen. Gone are the days where this is our job.

If you are doing more talking then your students, you are working too hard. Our job as teachers is to make our students think, which means less talking and more asking. Yes, asking questions. How many things do you say in a lesson, which could actually be turned into a question instead?
Just because your students are listening does not mean they are learning. We need to ensure our students are actually thinking to be learning, and the best way to do this is through asking questions.

Now, this does mean you have to think of other creative ways to teach in order to get students thinking, but it also means the learning will be far more engaging than you just sharing a bunch of facts and showing them what it is they are doing (let’s be real here, your students don’t need to listen to you talk all the time).

When I teach, I have a few go-to questions I use over and over again:
What are we learning?
How do you know?
Explain that in more detail?
Can you add to that?

These questions can be applied in any subject, and mean our students have to actually think about their learning, not about the activity.

Why else are using questions a great idea?

Because it means your students are talking, listening, connecting and challenging each other. A great bonus about teaching through questions is it means our students have something to do other than listen. Think/pair/share, talking partners, clock partners, see/think/wonder; these are examples of different ways we can have our students think and talk about learning, not just listen to us talk about learning.

So how does this look in a classroom?the teachers coach

1. Ask more questions than you do share facts and content.
2. Think of and plan creative ways to get your students thinking.
3. Create key questions which match the essential learning.
4. Include an opportunity for students to talk to each other every 5 minutes or so (they get bored of hearing you talk for longer than that – sorry)
5. Always ask a follow-up question; Tell me more… Why do you think that? Can anyone add to that? What makes you say that? How do you know?

Remember, questions mean the students do all the hard work in the lesson, your hard work comes in thinking about how to put a great lesson together and working with your students on their learning.

*Not sure how many questions you ask or if your students are really listening? A great way to see is to record yourself and do a question audit recording how many questions you ask and noticing where you could have asked a question instead of giving a fact.

Get your classroom organised in 2019

For those who know me well, you would know I am a fan of being organised. In fact, it is also something I teach and work with many teachers on.

If you don’t have an organised classroom, or office, or desk, you can constantly feel in a mess! And when you are in a mess at school your whole life suffers.

One of this biggest thing that can get in your way of your day going smoothly is being organised. Bits of paper spread across your desk, piles of student books on the floor, documents saved on your computer but you never know where to find them – this is all adding to the chaos of your day, and can so easily be fixed!

So, with 2018 coming to an end, yes you can pretty much forget it existed, those papers, books and files are done with, but let’s not repeat that same thing for 2019, it’s time to get organised. Here a my top 5 tips for organising your classroom so you can then organise you!

 

  1. Organising student work and assessment:  

Purchase an expandable file, label each tab with a students name and filing is now made easy.

Kmart has these beauties in a range of lovely colours and for only $6.00

https://www.kmart.com.au/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/SearchDisplay?searchTerm=expandable+file&categoryId=&storeId=10701&catalogId=10102&langId=-1&pageSize=30&beginIndex=0&sType=SimpleSearch&resultCatEntryType=2&showResultsPage=true&searchSource=Q&pageView=

  1. A space for rubbers, paper lips and those small bits and pieces

Next time you are in Woolworths, grab yourself one or two of their ice cube trays. They are great for storing the small items you and your students can never seem to find; paper clips, erasers, your marking stamp…

Keep this on your desk and you and your students know where to find things and where to return them.

https://www.woolworths.com.au/shop/productdetails/521895/?istCompanyId=909b5da6-e33c-4de8-a6e2-0861c4cbcd86&istItemId=-xtaimrimar&istBid=t&&cmpid=smsm:ds:GOOGLE:Woolies_SmartShopping_Home+%26+Outdoor:PRODUCT_GROUP&gclid=CjwKCAiAl7PgBRBWEiwAzFhmmsR_PFwgSQ3gBzVx64uaDBtUF6Grr_le65Cud13XUocgK1v9XPLa2RoCJsEQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

 

  1. Desktop clutter

Nothing drives me more insane than messy desks. Pencil pots, rulers and scrap bits of paper can often be seen covering classroom tables at the end of the day, but not any more. This great item from Ikea can serve as a place for all your desktop needs to be stored while you sleep soundly. At then end of each day have students remove all desk items and neatly arrange here and no longer will you have to spend time after school picking  up  the stary pencils, paper or tiny pieces of eraser.

 

https://www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/products/70333977/

 

4.       Students Mailbox

Student items, messages and notes can be second behind the desk clutter. Try using one of these show racks as individual pouches for student belongings. You can use them for notes to go home, homework or even a place to encourage students to write kind messages to each other. It’s also a great way to keep track of who did and didn’t take their homework home!

 

https://www.amazon.com.au/MISSLO-Pockets-Organizer-Hanging-Storage/dp/B00N2G2UOI

 

2.       Get a good diary

Of course, a good teacher diary is essential to be able to plan your days, lessons and self. The Teachers’ Coach Diary for 2019 is a must have. You can plan lessons and your day, but also plan for you by setting goals, practicing gratitude and recording your top must do’s and like to do’s for the day.

Download your free sample or purchase here:2019-teacher-diary

http://www.theteacherscoach.com.au/organisation  

  

The curriculum isn’t the enemy…

Last week I was working with a teacher who was having trouble planning for her class and using the curriculum. This teacher was quite stressed and was having a battle between teaching what the curriculum says and what her students need.

I told her in my school there would be no curriculum, and no tests, because teachers know their students and what they need, and most often it is not what is in the curriculum.

So why is it we feel so bound to the curriculum? Yes, we do have some legal ties with it, but mostly, what is in the curriculum, can be achieved through good teaching and teaching which interests the students.

When you look at the curriculum, what do you see? Most teachers see outcomes, things they have to teach and content in black and white.

When you look at you students though, you see a suite of skills the can and can’t do yet, thei likes and dislikes and preference for learning and their individual interests.

But why is it that we see our students and the curriculum as two separate things?

We need to realise they can go together quite easily; if we are creative in how we plan and teach.

The trick is to marry all these things together.

Start with your students, end with the curriculum – this is the opposite of what most school and teachers do.

Start with your students and their needs, use this to decide what to teach, map this backwards against the curriculum.

Very soon you will see how by teaching what your students need, you are covering the curriculum anyway; just in a time, manner and way which suits them.

Trust yourself, trust your students, trust the process.