Monday, April 1, 2013

Silence is Teacher Kryptonite?

In a  prologue to the next TAGteach webinar (May 13, 2013)  Say More and Talk Less, this post looks at the possibility that when a teacher talks less, they are also giving the student the chance to say more – to themselves! 

The Sound of Silence

By Theresa McKeon

A teacher has just delivered a lecture detailing the “when, where, how and why” of a particular skill to a group of students. Next, the teacher consciously reduces the amount of language, crafting clear instructions and well-defined criteria for success. The students seem eager to try the skill and the teacher gives the all clear. There is a moment of silence as the teacher cedes control to the student. A battle ensues. The battle is not with the student, but with the silence.

Silence right before student performance is teacher Kryptonite. It weakens our resolve and claws at our confidence. We race through a mental inventory. “Did I tell them everything?”  “What will I do if they fail?”  “Should I explain this in greater detail?”  “Should I add some last minute encouragement?”  The itch is too great to bear and in our last gasp, we add, “don’t forget…” along with the always beneficial, “remember what we talked about” and finish with a combination smile/thumbs up gesture. 

Teachers, you can save your breath. If you've been delivering your information using a focus funnel and a focus/tag point, your students are far from flailing in the momentary silence. The silence is merely an indication that your student has steely focus on what they are about to do and the criteria needed for success. They have transitioned to talking to themselves. This transition is essential if the student is ever to perform the skills solo.  

During new skill acquisition, last gasp instructions can disrupt the very focus you and your student worked so hard to create. Savor the silence as a job well done. When you talk less, you are giving your students the OK to say more – to themselves.

Click here to register for the webinar on May 13, 2013: Say More, Talk Less

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