Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels,
each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels,
and each student demonstrates learning at high levels (Blackburn, 2008).

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Students Don't Listen to Me!

Have you ever had students who didn't listen or pay attention to you?  When I was teaching, it was a huge problem.  I would ask my students to turn to page 22 in the book, and then I fielded 15 to 20 students asking me, "What page did you say?  Where are we supposed to be in the book?"  One day, Melissa, one of my students, stopped by my room on her way to lunch.  She commented that I looked pretty frustrated.  When I replied that I was, she said, "yeah, you were upset with us this morning."  I was tired, and wasn't thinking, so I replied, "I was.  Your class NEVER listens to me!"  She smiled and said, "That's because we know we don't have to.  You'll always repeat it if we ask."  Wow.  Out of the mouths of our students comes wisdom.  As I thought about what she said, I realized that by trying to "help" them by repeating instructions, I was actually teaching them not to listen to me.

The next day, I began a new strategy. For any directions, I wrote them on the board, stated them once, and anytime a student asked me again, I simply pointed to the board.  It took a few weeks, but they learned that they were expected to listen to me the first time.  The directions were always available on the board, so they did not have an excuse to skip whatever we were doing, but I wasn't going to explain basic information over and over again.  During the transition, I realized I had been wasting an enormous amount of time answering the same questions over and over again.  My instructional time increased about 20% with one simple change in my instruction.

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