Don’t Talk So Much or Effective Communication in the Classroom

Don't Talk So Much Button

When I was a first year teacher, I had an administrator give me a piece of valuable information. Ironically, I didn’t really appreciate the advice at the time because it came from one of those administrators who never actually tells you anything positive, so I took offense at first. Luckily, I eventually realized that, despite the source, it really was good advice.

She told me I talked too much.

But… I’m a teacher. That’s what we DO! We have to talk. all. day. long.

She told me that the students would start to tune me out.

Well, I don’t know how I’m supposed to stop talking so much. I mean, I need them to do things, I need them to listen, how else can I make that happen?

For a few days, I really struggled. On the one hand, I knew she had a point. I talked way too much, and my kids DID tune me out. it’s very easy to do as a nervous first year teacher, or as any teacher, honestly. On the other hand, she didn’t give me any direction. What was I supposed to do instead? I still had to give them directions, get them to quiet down, and teach them!

Luckily, I’ve always been a problem solver, and once she pointed out the problem, I spent the rest of that year (and the next few years) working on ways to better communicate with my class. I eventually realized that, just like adults (and even more so), kids will eventually tune you out if you don’t 1) keep it brief, 2) keep it interesting, and 3) keep it relevant.

3 steps

step 1

Remember back in college when you were sitting in class with that professor? The one who droned on and on and on and before you knew it, the class was done, and while you didn’t learn anything, you had a fantastic collection of doodle art in your notebook, or maybe a puddle of drool from falling asleep? 

You didn’t want to listen to someone rattle on and on, and neither do our students.

My general rule of thumb is that the maximum amount of time I can expect my students to listen at a time is their age. So, if my students are 6, they can listen for a maximum of 6 minutes at a time. I try to keep it even shorter than that. That doesn’t mean I teach them less, it just means I’m more concise. I try to just get to the point. I cut out some of the parts that aren’t really necessary. For example, if we’re doing a multi-step project, I might tell them 1-3 steps at a time, not all 10. They’re not going to remember all 10 anyway, and it gets them working and learning much faster.

step 2

No one likes to be bored, and while kids like routine, they also like variety. If I can communicate with my students without using my voice, that’s always more fun than listening to me talk. So, I no longer use my voice to quiet my class. Instead, I use these fun attention grabbers and my kiddos love it.

Attention Grabbers

I also am constantly changing the tone, pitch and volume of my voice. I’m not a cartoon character, and I don’t try to be, but I’ve found singing directions or whispering an important point really draws my students in. I rarely get louder when I need their attention. Instead, I get quieter which forces them to get quiet so they can hear.

step 3

As a teacher, you know your students. You know what interests them, what’s cool right now, and what music they’re obsessing over.

My advice? Use it! If I need to use SpongeBob as an example to keep my students’ attention, you bet I’ll do it. If I can use the tune of a One Direction song to teach them about nouns, I’m all for it. Not only does it get their attention, but, when used well, might really drive home an important point.

So those are just a few simple things you can do to effectively communicate with your class. This is not an end all, be all list, but I definitely think this is a great place to start.

What are your tips and tricks for effectively communicating with your students? Leave a comment below!

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Just as, as teachers, we value communication and creating a system that helps our students learn best, Smartling translates websites so that companies can communicate in the best way possible to their audience. How cool is that?

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The Message We Send to Girls

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When I was pregnant, my husband and I chose not to find out the gender. We wanted to be surprised, but the whole time I was pregnant, I knew, I mean I KNEW I was having a boy. We picked out everything “gender neutral” but definitely leaned more towards the masculine, because, I knew, KNEW I was having a boy.

Well, after a more than dramatic 24 hours (that I am SO not sharing on the internet), I was handed my brand new baby, and since things were super crazy a little complicated, my midwife didn’t tell me the gender, she just handed this brand new baby to me. I remember staring at that cute little face, those tiny hands, those… I glanced down and looked at my husband WIDE eyed and stuttered (literally stuttered) “It’s a girl! We have a girl!” He, apparently, hadn’t noticed yet either. We smile, we cried happy tears, and we were thrilled, absolutely THRILLED to have a beautiful, healthy, baby girl.

We really were thrilled, and I felt so silly that I was sure I was having a boy. With my baby in my arms, I knew, KNEW that I was supposed to have a girl. It was perfect.

Later that night, I sat there in the dark hospital room holding my brand new baby, and definitely not sleeping (I don’t know how anyone expects you to sleep the first night with a new baby that you can’t quite believe is YOURS). I remember staring at the sweet little face and worrying. As thrilled as I was to have this beautiful baby girl, I knew that being a girl was not easy. I knew that she’d have to work twice as hard to prove herself. I knew that she would be bombarded with “Look like this photoshopped model” “Act like this popstar” “Be skinny” “Be cute” Be X,Y,Z” and it would be so hard to protect her from that.

I vowed to let her play with blocks, trucks, mud, tools, whatever she wanted to and not to put her in the superficial “girl box”.

I didn’t want her to think her value was in her looks, that being smart wasn’t cool, that she couldn’t like bugs, or science, or whatever.

I also thought that I had a while before I had to worry about that, and then my sister told me a story about my 3 and 1/2 year old niece.

Let me start off my telling you: my niece is one of those kids people notice. She has big green eyes, curly red hair, and the sweetest little personality. Wherever she goes, strangers constantly tell her how gorgeous she is, how pretty she is, how cute she is. My sister is constantly told she should be a model or in commercials. Recently, my sister was at an event where there was a crayola booth. My niece wanted to write the word “flower”, and she did.

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While she was writing it, a man came up and went on and on about how cute she is and how my sister REALLY should put her in modeling, commericals, etc. He didn’t comment on how great of a job she was doing writing her letters (She’s onyl 3 and 1/2 and look how great she did!), he commented on her looks, her cuteness, her appearance.

These people think they’re being nice, and they are, but in a way, they’re not.

My sister also has a son who’s almost 9. He’s always been very inquisitive and curious. He enjoys taking things apart and reading about science.

People are always telling my nephew that he’s so smart. He’s so bright. He’s so knowledgeable.

A few weeks ago, my niece went up to my sister and broke her heart. She said, “Mommy, I’m not smart like my brother.”

Ouch.

My sister, of course reassured her that she is, in fact very, very smart and explained that my nephew is older and she knows just as much as he did when he was 3 and 1/2.

But, where do you think she got that idea from? I’m sure the fact that she’s always bombarded with “You’re so cute.” and her brother is always told “You’re so smart.” has more than a little to do with it.

I write all of this to say, we need to really be aware of the messages we’re sending our children and students, but especially our daughters and girls in our lives. What do we compliment them on most? We need to make a conscience effort to tell the girls in our lives that they are smart and show them that their worth is NOT in their appearance.

So, yes, my daughter is adorable, and she gets tons and tons of compliments on how cute she is, her red hair, her big eyes. I don’t mind. I agree. She’s adorable, but that’s not all she is. She already has more to offer than her looks. She loves to play peekaboo, she can sit all on her own  and entertain herself for half an hour, she recognizes her name, and so much more. I am already making a conscience effort to tell her how smart she is, not just how cute she is.

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I mean, look she’s already even reading on her own! ;)

I challenge you to work to praise your daughters, nieces, and female students on their hard work, their intellect, and their talents, and not focus so much on their appearance.

Just think what the next generation could accomplish if girls felt that their value was not tied to their appearance.

My guess?

A whole lot.

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Easy Peasy Veteran’s Day Freebie

Okay, so you’re screen is not deceiving you. I’m actually blogging two days in a row! What?!

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet (like most of my posts recently ;) ).

In the US, Tuesday is Veteran’s Day. I definitely think it is a very important day to stop and talk to your students about veterans and and why they are so important.

In my school, we do a whole big Veteran’s Day assembly every year where the kids sign patriotic songs, each class does a special presentation, and we decorate the gym with patriotic crafts.

Gulp. I’m not a big craft person, and I like to keep things simple, so I came up with an easy peasy Veteran’s Day flipper.

My kids really enjoyed making it, and they’re so simple but to the point.

Veteran's Day Freebie

All we did was color, write, cut, and fold and we were done. When it’s closed, you see the star with a flag on it, and when it’s open, they see our message. Of course, with older kids you could have them write more or different things, but for my firsties, having everyone write the same message made it super easy.  Plus, that’s what Veteran’s Day is all about. For younger kids, you could not copy the second page with the lines and just have them draw a picture. Yay for differentiation!

So, if you’d like to grab the freebie, click the picture above or click here.

Make sure to thank a Veteran on Tuesday!

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Sample It Saturday: Thanksgiving Just Print Pack

Hi Everyone! Today I’m trying something brand new, and I’m hoping you’ll really enjoy it! Make sure to leave me a comment and let me know because I’d love to make this a monthly post. :)

Today is the first ever:

Sample It Saturday header

So, here’s how it works!

It’s pretty simple. I feature one of my recent products, or a product I’m really proud of, or one that fits the season, and I give you a sample of it to try! Who doesn’t love a free sample? :)

I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe that it’s already November 8th! Thanksgiving will be here before we know it, and I love to have some fun and easy to use resources for each holiday.

That’s why I’ve created my seasonal Just Print Math packs.

Today I’m featuring my Thanksgiving Print and Go Math pack. Here’s a peek at all 15 printables that are included (answer keys are included for all of the pages that need answer keys).

Thanksgiving Just Print Math Pack Collage

The cool thing about this pack is it’s ready to go (hence the title print and go). A few sheets ask students to make a paper clip spinner, but that is the only prep that is involved.

It covers:

Word Problems
commutative property of addition
basic addition
basic subtraction
doubles
skip counting by 2′s
true and false problems
graphing
one more
number recognition (spin and color)

Click the picture below to grab your sample!

sample

Let me know if you like Sample It Saturday in the comments below. Thanks!

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Wordless Wednesday: Thrown Together Projects are the Best!

Happy Wednesday! You might have noticed that I link up with Wordless Wednesday a lot. Well, That’s because Miss Decarbo’s linky is GENIUS! It’s fun, easy, and just the amount of blogging I can handle right now. ;)

This week’s picture is actually from last week. I need to change out our back to school student work display (yes, I know it was the end of October…) and I wasn’t sure what to do with Halloween coming up in a few days, so I literally threw this project together, and it turned out perfectly! I drew the heads myself and copied and then found the mask and pumpkin cut outs in an old teacher book I had. My kiddos drew themselves, wrote clues on their pumpkin, and voila! We had a cute little project that was Halloween enough for Halloween, but not SO Halloween-y that I have to take them down just yet (okay, at least that’s what I’m telling myself). I’m going to be turning this into a TpT product once I have a little free time (haha), but I’ll offer other things instead of just pumpkins so it can be used all year!

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So here’s my question today: What was the best “thrown together” project you ever created?

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