Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Daily Assignment #97: Messages Teachers Send When Responding...

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  I hope you all had a wonderful relaxing and safe holiday season.

So, let's get down to business.

Teachers send many messages when responding to students' comments, questions/answers, etc...  Unconsciously, and sometimes consciously, we send positive and negative messages through our responses, whether verbal, non-verbal or through our body language.

It is difficult to always manage our responses.  Sometimes we don't even realize that we just gave a sigh or rolled our eyes to a student's comment or answer.  Imagine how that student feels hearing or seeing the teacher respond in that way.  We might be giving certain students positive responses such as, "That's right, very good" or something even more simple as a smile with a nod. Then the next student we just nod or do some other subtle response.  The 2nd student is now wondering what they said that was wrong and why didn't the teacher like their response.  The rest of the class is thinking the first student is the smart one.  Also, they are afraid they may not give a response the teacher will like.  

Of course, there are much more extreme examples of teachers' responses and the impacts they have on students. There are teachers who will berate students for giving an incorrect response or an awkward comment.  Guess what message they're sending?

This is not to say that a teacher shouldn't address a wrong answer but do it in a respectful way.  I know of a teacher who would make a buzzer sound if the answer was wrong and another teacher would shout "WRONG".  How humiliating for a student!

If a student gives an incorrect response or says something that doesn't make sense, stick with them. Help them save face.  You might want to ask follow-up questions for clarification.  A teacher's response can either spur learning forward or shut it down.

Consider having a colleague come in to observe your teaching.  Have them collect data on your responses to students.  It's a great way to learn what kind of messages you are sending your students.
Please share this blog with colleagues and friends.  Also, take a look at my book on effective strategies.
Best Effort,

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