For an experienced teacher, it's easy to become comfortable with personal habits when teaching. As we know, teacher habits can often determine learning outcomes for your students.
Being aware of some habits or 'traps' is the first major step in the right direction. So, here's 5 traps that you want to look out for!
1. Talk Time Worries
As teachers, most of the time in a class is spent talking. This comes as no surprise, but talk time is considered to be one of the most valuable indicators of quality teaching. Many worry whether they're speaking too much, too little, too quickly, or too slowly. There are ways to avoid this, and avoid the unnecessary stress of talk time.
Professor John Hattie, in his research, found that most issues with talk time occur at the begging of a new unit where a teacher overcompensates because they are unfamiliar with the unit. Greater preparation prior to the lesson helps mentally prepare you for the learning journey ahead. Along with this, student led learning and activity can help bring talk time down by bypassing the teacher completely!
2. Filling the Silence
Sometimes there can be periods of down time in the classroom. These moments of silence follow after a question, or any other moment where some serious content is thrown to the students.
The biggest trap teachers fall into is feeling the impulse to fill the silence. In times of silence, it's best to resist the impulse, and allow some quiet time for reflection and contemplation among the students. Let Professor John Hattie himself tell you to avoid the trap of filling silence.
3. Riding Solo
As the adult in the room, we can convince ourselves that the buck stops with us. That every question, and answer needs to be filtered through us via the student. This one way path of learning of 'teacher-student' is limiting, and removes useful tools like peer feedback. Here, the teacher is riding solo.
One major way to avoid this is to facilitate peer feedback. Either in pairs, or groups, giving the students the opportunity to grade each others work allows them to answer their own questions without teacher input, while leaving more problematic questions to the teacher. Professor John Hattie specifies in this quick video:
Overloading can occur in our students, or even ourselves If we don't pay attention to our limits. We run the risk of overloading when we provide too much information too quickly, which can lead to ineffective teaching and little learning.
Communicating with your students, and avoiding extensive talk-time is a good start to avoid overloading. Other methods involve using peers, as well as student groups to break up the content and engage with it among themselves. This saves you time, and gives the students time to grapple with the content.
5. Student Talk Time
Teachers may be concerned with their own talk time, but another factor that can determine a good quality lesson is student talk time. Usually, students talking during class time is regarded as counter-productive and inefficient. However, the opposite is true! If directed in a productive direction, student talk can assist in learning. By giving students more time to voice their thoughts, ask questions, and address peers, teachers open a huge possibility for potential learning.
Just remember to make sure it's relevant, otherwise talk time can quickly become useless.