5 Teaching Practices I'm Kicking to the Curb. So many of us teach the way we were taught. We may not even realize we’re doing it. And that means certain practices get passed down year after year without question, methods that are such a normal part of the way we do school, we perpetuate them without realizing there are better alternatives. Today I’m going to roll out five of these for your consideration: five teaching practices used every day that are not backed by research.
In many cases, these practices are not only ineffective, they can be downright harmful. A few caveats before I start: First, I have used every single one of these methods. Every one. A.K.A.: Round-Robin Reading, Volunteer Reading What it is: A teacher wants her class to read a text—a short story, a chapter in a textbook—so she has each student take a turn reading out loud while the others follow along silently. Why I did it: I used popcorn reading occasionally as a language arts teacher, when we were doing a whole-class novel, to “get through” the text. A.K.A. Distract the Distractor: Stop Off-Task Behavior Without Drama. It starts so simply: Instead of doing his silent reading, a boy at table 3 leans over and whispers to the kid next to him. At a training session, two participants scroll through their phones instead of listening to you.
During soccer practice, one of the girls you coach starts bouncing the ball off her butt. These small, off-task behaviors happen all the time. Depending on how you handle them, they could either go away or escalate into a full-scale blowup. In this video, I’ll describe a small but powerful classroom management technique called “Distract the Distractor,” where instead of calling attention to the off-task behavior, you re-engage the student with a content-based question: Want to make videos like this? Not all discipline problems can be prevented with this technique; some students arrive in a mood that will not be diffused, no matter what.
[Note: The name “Distract the Distractor” comes from the book Opportunities and Options in Classroom Management. Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning. Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel 336 pages, Belknap Press, April 2014Buy Now [The links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links. If you click these and make a purchase from Amazon, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!] Remember college, when you’d crack open your textbook, pop the top off your brand-new highlighter, then start smearing that sucker across line after line of text, making the important stuff stand out so you could reread it and reread it some more? This phenomenon is explained in our summer 2015 book pick, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning. Although the reading can sometimes be challenging, the concepts are illustrated beautifully in a series of anecdotes from sports, the military, music, and even corporate training to demonstrate how learning in any field is still learning; the principles hold up no matter where they are applied. 1.
Positive, Not Punitive, Classroom-Management Tips. This article is adapted from Larry's new book, Self-Driven Learning: Teaching Strategies for Student Motivation. Let's start with a question I've been asked on more than one occasion. "I know my content and like my students, but sometimes it's hard to get them under control so I can teach my lesson. What tips for classroom management can you give me? " My general answer is that you can never have too many positive, not punitive, classroom management strategies in your toolbox. Obviously, there are serious student transgressions, including violence, where some kind of punishment is an appropriate response. Public Versus Private Relationship Community organizers try to help people understand the difference between public and private relationships (I was an organizer for 19 years prior to becoming a teacher).
Here is another example: I have spent time over the years working with many organizations, including religious congregations, organizing for community improvements. What do you do? Teaching Secrets: Get to Know Students Through Seating Challenges. Published Online: June 27, 2012 By Sandy Merz Where do I sit? It's the universal first question, at the top of students' minds as they cross the threshold of my room on the first day of class. Many teachers start the semester with students seated alphabetically: It's easy and aids in learning names. Others may wait to make a seating chart until they get to know their students. I've tried both of these approaches with my 8th graders. However, these practices don't demand anything from students. I've found that by engaging students in seating challenges, I set a positive collaborative tone from the first day.
On the first five days of class, my students determine where they sit based on team problem-solving activities. In return, students learn to expect me to be prepared, organized, and supportive—as opposed to being authoritative and having all the answers. Here's how the approach works in my middle school classroom, which seats 32 students around five large tables. Day 3 is different.