Something we’ve focused on in recent department meetings is how we, as individual class teachers, can reduce the amount of ‘teacher talk’ that’s happening.
Our acting HoD set us an interesting challenge before half term, to record the amount of time we ‘teacher talk’ in 6, 1 hour lessons. We then had to reflect and consider, a) at which points in the lesson were we talking the most and why? b) how did the pupils’ behaviour change at different points? and c) what strategies might we be able to employ to reduce the talk?
On reflection, I realised that for me the biggest amount of ‘teacher talk’ was at the start of the lesson, where I was setting up the context of the lesson and the task. One way I’ve dealt with this in the last few months is through the use of ‘bell work’ (see earlier post). This strategy enables students to be actively engaged immediately and independently, as the task requires little or no elaborate instruction from the teacher.
Here are 2 recent examples:
Both of these activities allow for complete independence as soon as the pupils enter the room. If they are unsure, I direct them back to the board or to ask their table or teaching assistant (where applicable).
The use of bell work means I can set up the lesson, deal with issues and sort register etc. without eating into the learning time.
Another strategy which has helped me to decrease ‘teacher talk’ is to give very clear, concise instructions visually as well as verbally. This means using the PowerPoint/ Smartboard to support my task instructions clearly. For an example, see below:
The reinforcement of the LOs and clear instruction means that I can spend more time supporting individual students, rather than repeating and reexplaining tasks.
Of course, there are other strategies to employ. For example, you can use students as teachers, or set tasks up so that the ‘dialogue’ is in the style of verbal football. But I’m interested in other ideas.
What strategies do you see as useful in cutting ‘teacher talk’ and increasing the pupils’ time spent engaged in independent activity?