Monday, 21 April 2014

Lazy Teaching

No, this isn't an admission that I've become complacent in the classroom!

I recently read The Lazy Teacher's Handbook: How your students learn more when you teach less (Independent Thinking Series) by Jim Smith. I enjoyed the book a lot. I found it refreshing in the way it encouraged teachers to take risks and try something new. But I love the way it wants us to shift the work rate within the lessons on to the children - over the course of the lesson the children should be working hardest.
The big challenge for teachers taking on board the Lazy Way is often dragging themselves away from the safety net that is the scheme of work.
Here are some great ideas from the book:

  • Like airlines - record any set routines on video. Display messages that you need to give.
  • Use audio and video for teaching.
  • "Too many teachers are paraphrasing children's answers then adding in anecdotal by-line for good measure meaning the majority of the students disengage with a crucial part of the learning. Why the vast majority of teachers feel compelled to repeat and add something to every response they receive is beyond me. You have a whole class of students who should be asked to comment on what has been said."
  • "Send one member of the group (to be known as the 'envoy') to visit another group. The envoy is there with two missions: 1 to listen to the group's ideas so he can report back to his own group and 2 to share his own group's ideas with his hosts. This is a very lazy way of making sure everyone remains engaged with the task and hears other viewpoints."

  • Use this formula to outline how much time the group has using the following formula: People x Time - Number of hours worked. If you have a group of four students working for a sixty minute lesson, this equates to four hours of time. Ask the students what they would expect an individual to produce in four hours. Use the formula to set the expectation for the group.
  • Allocate specific roles to members of the group, e.g. facilitator (keeps things moving and records what is happening), time keeper, resource manager, quality checker and team rep (represents the team at 'emergency meetings'.
  • Never use silent work as a punishment as it is a valuable way of working, not a consequence of poor behaviour.
  • Establish how long you are going to be silent for and make it clear to your class that you do want that amount of time spent in silence and will reset the clock of people talk.
  • Model working in the silent time as well.
  • Have a whiteboard where questions can be posted by the students. When someone posts a question only ever tell that person the answer and write the name of the person you have told under the question on the FAQs board. Anyone else in the class who wants to know the answer to that same question can talk to their classmate rather than you.
  • The 'feel good Friday' phone call: choose three students whose parents/carers you are going to ring to say just how well their children are doing.
  • The high jump: Introduce the high jump approach to maths - children start the challenge just before you think it is going to get too difficult for them. There is no point in students completing work that has proved nothing, other than the fact that it is too easy or too hard.
  • Have a Connect 4 Championship!