May 19, 2011

ROLE strategies: talk less

For a successful Results Only Learning EnvironmentTM, teachers have to give up something most love to do -- talking. Obviously, you can't stop talking entirely, but you do need to talk less. I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve heard or read that lecturing to students of any age is a recipe for disaster, but even if you think you don’t lecture, I’d like to encourage you to talk less, anyway.

Teachers talk too much

Teachers talk; it’s simply in our nature. We give instructions – two and three times, because we don’t think our students are listening. We repeat a concept over and over, because three students had their heads down or weren’t looking in our direction. We dwell on the same visual aid, talking about every bullet point. We spend five minutes in closing, belaboring an earlier lesson for no good reason, other than to fill the time with sound. We talk and talk and talk. Sure, we’re told that lecturing is not good, but we continue. Why? The answer is simple. Talking makes us feel like we're in control.

Let the students talk instead

Research indicates that people remember about 10 percent of what they read, 20 percent of what they hear and 30 percent of what they see. However, they remember an almost uncanny 70 percent of what is discussed. If this is accurate, it seems that students will learn best when they share information in a cooperative setting – not when listening to teachers. So, in many cases, all you have to do is replace your own talking with silence and let the students do the rest.

It's not easy, and it takes practice. Think of ways to eliminate direct instruction with other teaching methods, and soon, you'll be talking less, your students will be talking more, and there will be more learning than ever in your class.

Other ROLE strategies

If you missed it, check out ROLE strategy 1: year-long projects

Don't miss the book

You can learn how to be successful, while almost completely eliminating direct instruction, in my soon-to-be-released book, ROLE Reversal: How Results-only Learning Will Change Education As We Know ItTM.