Why do teachers talk at all?

In an era where the Internet seemingly has all the answers, why do teachers spend so much time talking to students? The answer is of course complex and unresolved in totality, but we do know why teachers feel as though they should lecture students. One is the dang bell that signals the start and end of a lesson. Teachers believe they can ‘on-ramp’ students with an intro and with 5 mins to go, the are using the verbal whip to push that pony home in the last stretch. We know that many teachers like to teach the way they were taught (particularly early career) on the whole and it takes time for them to build strategies and confidence to do otherwise. It doesn’t help that there isn’t much ‘modelling’ going on in University to show them otherwise either. Some like to simply show off and talk about themselves, because it’s nice to have a captive audience.

I’ve been reading and picking at a great little book recently called Show and Tell by Dan Roam. Although it’s about presentations, it’s really about communication. Communication can’t be easily defined either, although a horrid woman once told me it’s ‘verbal, spoken and written’ which amused me and really summed up her skills brilliantly. Roam says it is to “tell the truth, tell it with a story and tell the story with pictures” which is delightful depiction for my middle school students immersed in project based learning. He also says we should used “head, heart and data” which again is fundamental and sadly ‘data’ is routinely omitted by many of the soch-presenters broadcasting on Chitter.

Talk fades fast, where as drawing and visualising the conversation captures information, ideas, data and most of all a shared connection between the participants. I get through a stack of paper doing this every day. Nothing beats a bold line from a sharpie to cut through tricky problems.

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