You can have the strongest lesson plans of any teacher who has ever walked the planet. Still, if the students aren’t paying attention, you’re not an effective teacher. While the students’ willingness is obviously significant, your creativity and patience with how you present material are arguably the most important factors in whether they will give your lesson a chance.

For Day 3 of The Challenge, here are two possibilities for improving how you communicate to help optimize the conditions for learning!

Choose one or both of the following:

a) Go a full day without raising your voice in class. If students get too loud and you want to get their attention, use a noisemaker (a cowbell or similar) or the lights. The idea is never to appear as if you’re losing control. With a suitably window-rattling level of noise from your cowbell, delivered while smiling patiently, you may soon reach the black belt level of simply having to hold it up. Students in the front row throwing their hands over their ears clue the others in that it’s time to be quiet. Follow your success not with nagging, but with something that shows where your focus is. “Ah, good. Now, the next piece of this wildly cool topic we’re exploring‚Ķ”

b) Go a full day without asking “Who understands?”, “Who knows the right answer?”, or anything similar. Yes, it’s useful to know who gets what you’re teaching, but the truth is, those questions rarely help you learn that. Avoiding who-knows-the-right-answer questions keeps the bulk of the class from simply deferring to the handful of students who always get the right answer. Substitute these with “What might be the connection…” and similar questions, and in freeing the students from a right-wrong judgment, you may hear from students who normally wouldn’t speak up. If so, compliment them later for having contributed a cool idea. In return you might get a facial expression that will keep you smiling for a week.

What do you think of what’s above? Share your thoughts via social media using these tags: #5DTC and (if specific to today’s material,) #5DTCday3. Please also add #edtechteam and @rushtonh, if you have space.

And if you have a suggestion, critique, compliment, or story to share with me, please do so via the 5-Day Teacher Challenge Feedback form.

Thanks for being the kind of teacher who reflects, explores, and improves what you do!

In service,

top image credit: 3 countdown by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay (CC0)
cowbell image credit: Cowbell by Steve Collis from Flickr (CC by 2.0) 

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