Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Stop Monkeying around and Listen

      As I have looked over my curriculum for the upcoming year I can see that I will need to teach a new concept every day and on some days two lessons per subject.  This fast pace may not be in the best interest for students learning, but it is necessary to meet our states rigorous standard and expectations. 
    Since we cannot add more time to the day our only option is to make our current teaching more efficient.  An example from my teaching today gives me a pretty good idea of where to begin.   
     As I was passing out the materials in our small group for our writing lesson I listened to two girls on my left chattering away,  the boys were trying their best to keep their hands off each other, the students closest to me where day dreamers who seemed to be taking in the chaos of the table.  If this was a regular classroom situation I would obviously change the seating to separate these groups of students.  Since it was camp, I decided to experiment and see what would happen next.   So I gave the directions and two students began to work.   Two more students asked, “What did you say?” hoping that I would repeat what I said now that they were ready.  The last two hadn’t even come-to that we were involved in an activity. It took a great deal of time to get everyone finished with a basic task.  This was great for a summer class that I was trying to drag out, but would be a nightmare during the year. 
      Whether our students learn slowly or quickly we have to continue to work with them until they master the concepts we teach.  Yet, with the increased expectations we all face, it becomes even more important that kids close their mouths-listen up-and focus their brains to learn their lessons the first time.  So until we are allowed to put duct tape on mouths, braces on necks, hand cuffs, speaker ear phones, and medicine to focus to every child in our class.  We’ll have to resort to some age old teacher techniques like, “Eyes and ears on me.” to help our students reach their highest potential. 

(In the comments below, share with us some of your ways for keeping your students attention.)       


  1. I am going to be trying some concepts in the Mind Up Curriculum this year. It's about teaching kids to REALLY be mindful so that they understand WHY it is important to focus and pay attention, not only with their eyes but also their mind and all of the senses. :)

    I haven't taught 2nd in awhile so I'm not sure what I'll do for that quite yet but when I taught 4th and 5th grade, if a group was chattering, I'd just stop talking and wait. And if my wait was longer than a minute, it came off recess. The students learned pretty fast that class time is very valuable and not to waste it.

  2. It's a total dog and pony show...kindergarten teachers get their arms and legs in motion and put on their "Omigosh I'm so excited to teach you this" voice to keep kinders attention. They must think we're nuts, but they keep their eyes and ears on us to see what we'll do next!