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Mark Burke is CEO and founder of THINK'ID8

Help, Too Much Talking During Class!

By Mark T. Burke

Guess what. All that talking is coming from us, not the students. That’s right, we spend way too much time talking about this and that during class and lessons. We like, no LOVE to hear ourselves deliver words of wisdom to our students. Minute after minute go by as we sing the sweet songs of knowledge to our students and of course, they eagerly soak up our tones of intellect, absorbing them as their own….RIGHT!

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I’ve spent the last several months diving into initiatives that demand redefining the teacher role. I started by visiting several VoTech Schools in my area. Then, I attended two conference, one on STEM and the other on Flipped Classrooms. Part of my goal was to evolve my teaching style in preparation for an upcoming role as the instructor for a summer camp on Entrepreneurism. As a life-long teacher, I knew it was time to dust off my skills, set my ego aside and redefine my role as a teacher. At the core of everything I learned, from all the latest models, is…In front of our students, we talk too much.

There are ways to deliver a lot of information. You’re participating in one now…reading. In fact, reading is better at delivering a lot of information that simply “saying” things in front of the class. Reading allows participants to review, reread, revisit. I digress. This post is not about HOW to not talk to much as much as it is about making you think about how much you talk in front of your students.

When you go back to school after a long break, like summer, do you feel a strain in your voice? If you do, then you talk too much during class. In fact, I believe teachers should spend their summers doing a TON more talking than during class. Talking with peers, attending professional development, presenting sessions on their experiences, participating in book clubs, serving on panels and committees. These are all great places to TALK a lot about what we know and what we need or want to know. So if you have a deep desire to talk, look outside the classroom for opportunities.

Class time should focus on discovery, discussion and dynamics. The most we should talk is to keep the conversation going, add considerations…help the students THINK through solutions and their own performance. In my camp instructor role, I went into my discomfort zone and decided to plan differently. I would normally develop a presentation around topics. As the class progressed, I would use the slides to guide me. Now, I’m not someone who uses PowerPoint with tons of words either. My slides are usually 1-5 words, heavy on graphics. But, for this camp, I decided NOT to develop slides. I created a list of topics and activities that would require the kids to do all the work, engage with each other, present, justify, DISCOVER, DISCUSS…DYNAMICALLY.

It worked…it worked extremely well in fact. The 31 student reviews of the 3 day camp were incredibly positive.

If you’re a talker…give it up. Plan to talk more outside of class engaging with your peers, fellow professionals. Say more in your professional circles. In class, talk less, lead more.

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