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Over fifty years ago Ned Flander's careful research found that 2/3 of what happens in classrooms is talk; that 2/3 of the time it is the teacher talking; and that 2/3 of teacher talk is devoted to giving directions [Giving directions includes repeating and clarifying appropriate student behavior and classroom procedures]. He called this phenomenon of incessant, directive teacher talk The Law of Two-Thirds. Flanders also found that the kinds of talk teachers rarely engage in are 1) using student's ideas, 2) using student's feelings and 3) allowing for and recognizing unsolicited student ideas; that is, listening to student ideas that are not answers to teachers' questions but students' self initiated understandings and reactions to the subject matter.

Please reflect on your classroom behaviors and your classroom environment. How much teacher talk do you do in a regular block? What are some steps you can take to cut down on your teacher talk?
I will always be an athlete at heart, so forgive my sports references. In volleyball, there's such a thing as coach-centered drills and player-centered drills. Early in my career, I was very much coach centered. I would talk all the time, demonstrate all the drills, and run the drills as well. Over time, I discovered that my skills were improving but my athletes were not progressing at an appropriate level. In the last five or six years I discovered the art of player-centered drills. The students demonstrate, participate, and assist each other. All players are busy all the time. I am a guide on the side facilitating student learning and such is the case in my classroom. Student accountability is high and learning is student-centered. In college we studied Harry Wong's Philosophy on education. He believes that students should be exhausted at the end of the day and teachers should be energized. This has been the focus of my classroom and the environment in which we learn.
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Assuming that the law of two-thirds is true, 2/3 of the time the teacher is talking and 2/3 of that is directions, and doing some quick calculations implies that 44% of class time is spent giving directions. I feel that I am usually fairly concise with my directions (I am not giving them 44% of the time) but I do so see the value in limiting teacher talk. I think most of the time I am afraid at what might come out of some students' mouths, which is why I find myself leading them to answers and talking more than I have to. I do try to engage every student every day in some kind of dialogue but I think it would be better if students were talking to each other more. Perhaps if I better established how to work and speak with a partner I could limit teacher talk and have more students talking about the subject matter.
As a new teacher, I'm kind of a control freak in my classroom. I feel that if I am not directing learning, the students will not be learning the correct material. This approach has its good points and its bad. On the positive side, there is a lot of American history that is not part of our curriculum, so what my students learn is very focused and well-aligned to state standards and our curriculum maps. However, using this approach does stifle creativity in students. I try to combat this by offering assignments with differentiated outcomes, but even then I am careful to set detailed guidelines about what the final product should be.
To cut down on teacher talk is a scary idea. I think the key to improving my classroom according to Flander's research is to make sure that I listen as often as possible to students questions and keep creating opportunites for students to critically think about and discuss topics in class.
With all of my classes I feel I do a good job at deriving lesson activities and assignments from the suggestions of my students. My daily bell work for the students is always a reflective question about how they would change a project, what most interests them, activities that help them study, etc. The majority of my review games and activities are even written by the students. I also give the students choice in their projects. For example: they have to write a marketing plan, but they have complete creative control over what product/service they want, what forms of advertising to use and how they present their ideas to the class “investors.” The students always get very into this project, because they can research and write about something they are interested in, and they feel confident to present their ideas. This has worked wonderfully with my upper classman.

Because it proved so successful in those classes, I tried it with my freshman classes. Their feedback was that they didn’t know what to do. They were all given very detailed rubrics and instructions, but they had a hard time coming up with initial ideas. The transition from middle school teaching into taking initiative to establish your own projects/learning is often difficult for my freshman. I tend to do more of the talking, or allow my more advanced students to teach a lesson or activity. This seems to work some of the time, but many of the freshmen are lost until I go through step by step, teacher centered instruction. I do see the great benefit and growth my upperclassman get from student centered activities, so any suggestions on how to integrate it more effectively with freshman would be greatly appreciated.
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My classroom is much different than others, because I teach dance. Students are not seated in desks, and there is music blaring most of the time. I have found that the 2/3 of teacher talk does take place in my classroom sometimes and is necessary in certain situations. To cut down on teacher talk, I have students teach dances to the class, but I prep them very thoroughly ahead of time. I let them know how to teach a large group and keep everyone engaged, so they are able to address the class using their own directions and following their own path to discover what works and what does not. I have found that this allows the students to guide their own learning using their ideas and feelings successfully.
My goal is to create a learning environment where students can discover concepts on their own and establish conclusions by reflecting on their own knowledge. As I reflect on my teaching style and strategies that I've used thus far, I am trying to get students to think critically and be more responsible for their learning. I listen to students and incorporate their ideas (when appropriate), and I am full aware of students feelings and make adjustments accordingly. However, I do find myself talking more than I want. However, it's not because I'm a motor mouth, but because I have a lot of students that don't know how to think for themselves and it's like pulling teeth trying to get them to say A word. Also, in math, there are times where direct instruction cannot be avoided. So, what do I do? Well, today, I took some advice from my mentor and grouped students together and each group assigned a captain. The captain was the teacher for a particular concept and had to explain the process of solving a problem to their group (students could not ask me any questions, only the captain). Needless to say, I hardly did any talking, and students did all the work (and learned a thing or two!). So I believe that I will utilize this strategy more often.
After reflecting on my own teaching style and amount of "teacher talk" that occurs on a daily basis in my classroom, I find that though I do tend to instruct a lot verbally, I also allow for students to share their imput and ideas over the material being covered. In a dance class full of up to 40 students and the stereo blaring (well not that loud) "teacher talk" in regards to having to repeat directions is sometimes necessary. Many times I find that instead of verbally having to repeat directions or a concept or movement I have to physically show it and say it for students to understand. If this repeatition of saying or demonstrating over and over before a a large majority of the students understand is also included in teacher talk, then I am one that falls in that 2/3 category. However, to balance out that "constant" instruction given my me, the teacher, I have students teach and coach each other in what is happening in class. They do this is small groups or in pairs as well as work as a class to improve understanding of concepts, terms and other more academic aspects of the class that may not involve them physically moving. Throughout the semester they are given the oppurtunity to voice their opinions in class about topics being covered, are able to write in journals (during group choregprahy) about varying aspects of what is occuring during the experience of working in groups, as well as know that they are in a safe space where they can assist each other or offer suggestions to other's in hopes of helping them to improve and gain confidence in their abilities. I agree that there needs to be less teacher talk and more student input, however sometimes the class needs that extra instruction to ensure they understand the expectations and material that is being covered.
I would have to say I'm hit and miss in that arena. On a lot of activities I do really well, and let the kids do most of the thinking and talking. But some of the time, I find myself overdoing it and getting deer-in-the-headlight looks from the kids. I think the biggest change I have to make to cut down on teacher talk is to adjust my mindset during planning. I like to have everything laid out in order before I start, and the activities become a big priority, and can overshadow the objective. I think really focusing on the objective and what I want the kids to accomplish allows for a little more flexibility when students start directing things.
Although my intro to new material is usually only 20 minutes, I feel like there is a lot more than 20 minutes worth of teacher talk in my classroom. The reason is that guided practice—which is usually the longest component of my lessons—often involves me standing in front calling on students to help work through problems. Although this sometimes makes my lessons a bit dry, it definitely helps me with my management because I am in front directing the class. Additionally, this guided practice is still student centered despite all of the teacher talk. The students are talking through the problems and the students are responding well to my frequent checks for understanding. Additionally, we get through a large number of problems which gives me lots of opportunities to check for understanding and gives my students lots of opportunities to practice and demonstrate mastery of the objective. In the future, I would definitely like to diversify what I do and thereby decrease the amount of teacher talk in my classroom. Some days will be similar to what I describe above, but other days will be more activity oriented. I think the best way for me to do this is to increase student accountability when using whiteboards, stations, and other activities.
I think the first couple years of student teaching, substituting and first year teaching I was in that 2/3 about of teacher talk. I will be honest, I kind of liked being in power and sharing with classes. I learned last year, that I need to step back and make the students talk. I will now read the directions to students, ask if there are questions and then have them repeat in their own words to check for understanding and to cut down on my teacher talk. I have found that sometimes I need to let students talk more, so I have paper at my podium now and start writing my grocery lists, agenda for the next day or ideas for lessons. This helps me take a step back and shut my mouth. I am trying to have more student reflection as well so I get their opinions and feelings about projects. I have learned that students are usually a little more engaged if other students are sharing and it gives me time to listen to my students and their needs. It is interesting that he says we need to listen to self initiated understandings and reactions of the subject matter. I definitely would like to implement this more into my curriculum. I could take a step back and have students share their understanding, I feel they would learn more that way as well. I would like to try a 2/3 student talk for a week and see how that works. Maybe later this month I will.
I think the amount of teacher talk that happens in my classroom varies. On some days the introduction of material is heavy and on other days it is lighter. In order to decrease teacher talk time I could use more written instructions and not only verbal ones. I could also have students repeat the instructions instead of me doing it. I could have students introduce topics instead of having me teach them. I could have more set classroom procedures so giving repeated instructions was less necessary. As for integrating student's ideas, feelings and questions... I think that I do integrate them when they have to do with Spanish (my subject). If they want to apply certain verbs or vocab to their world of dating or dancing or friends I encourage that. However, if their ideas are, "we should just take a nap today" or, "we were really good yesterday so we shouldn't have to do anything today" or, "did you have to buy your first car" I tend to skip over them and carry on with the teacher talk. Ideally I would integrate them in somehow to the vocab we were learning.
My "teacher talk" definitely depends on the day, however I have gotten better at cutting down on teacher talk time as I have embraced more and more project based learning activities. For example, every Friday, after giving the directions, I have the kids in the library on the computer for this unit, with four options of projects that they must complete by the end of the period.

However, I do have definite lecture days. Maybe the key would be to assign the students the lecture at a level they can handle it, or turn the lecture into a game or activity that, once I have given directions, they run with it. There is still a certain amount of direct instruction that I find that I have to do to make sure my students on IEPs at least get the "straight apples" before we go into something more interactive.

Hearing other people mention frequent checks for understanding is a good reminder. That would be one way to allow students the opportunity to talk more and figure out what they are understanding or not understanding.
I have the great opportunity to teach in a co taught classroom. I feel that my co teacher and I have set up a system that allows the students to talk more than we do. We do have times when we are teaching a new topic and the discussion is teacher lead but even during that time we have the students respond to what the new material is. We both try and give the students opportunities to share information with each other and with us. When we do allow for them to talk to each other or share information with us we give them specific direction of the type of feedback that we want. Sometimes this will create a conversation in the class regarding the material. This discussion can help us decide what in the material needs to be expanded on.
I don't have much of the "teacher talk." I do show my students how to utilize the tools in our classrooms (i.e. Photoshop and Final Cut) but the majority of the "talk" time in my classes is students sharing their ideas and emotions. I try to reinforce the idea that videos and graphics evoke an emotional response and that the students need to think about people's emotions when the design or produce something. My class is just designed in such a way that we regularly tap into student ideas.
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Nice Simpsons reference by the way... Even though I am a new teacher the one thing I always try to think about is generally teacher talk. When I was in school I remember how fast I got bored because of teachers talking the whole time. With this in mind, I try to keep my activities moving all the time and have the students doing something different often. The hard part about this is we have so many students in the classroom now (40 for me) and many problems arise with student led activities, moving around the room, group activities, etc. It is easy to fall into the trap of just lecturing and giving teacher-led assignments because the "cool and fun" activities are hard to manage with so many students. Anyway, it is a battle. I am new and I know it will get easier to make more engaging activities as my career moves forward. As long as I keep in mind how bored the kids can get and how much I hated being lectured at all the time I think it will get easier.
I agree with Ned Flander's assessment that teachers, in general, talk way too much. I am definitely guilty of spending more of the period talking than listening. In a regular block, I think I spend a great deal of time giving directions, laying out my expectations for the period, instructing, and simply managing behavior in the room. Unfortunately, when I am not doing these things, I see students get off track and distracted. I feel a need to continue talking in order to keep students on the right and moving in the right direction.

In order to help me allow the students to play a more active--and more specifically vocal-- role in the classroom I think I can work on implementing the following strategies:

1. Have students read the bell work off the board and give verbal answers.

2. Ask students for feedback and give adequate wait time to get responses (20 seconds); and in some periods specifically call on the students so I get a pool of responses and not just volunteered responses.

3. Use exit tickets or daily assignments as a place to ask for their ideas on how or what they are learning; possibly using some of those suggestions in future lessons.
Although I agree with the anonymous quote, "Teachers teach more by what they are than by what they say," I also believe that the teacher's voice is an effective tool in the classroom. Today I had a violent outbreak in my 4th period class between two angry students. Regardless of what I had said in previous class periods, my students counted on me to take the necessary actions to put their safety first. My actions spoke louder than words. Definitely with the situation of classroom management, it is imperative that a teacher take control of a classroom; and in the worst case scenario, relocate innocent students out of harm's way. Again, actions speak louder than words.

Obviously this was a unique day for me to responding to this post topic. In taking myself out of my unique experience today, I can attest that I am a teacher who loves to talk. My reasons for talking our usually in the best interest of my students; I talk in order to instruct; impart wisdom; direct and facilitate student learning; keep students on track and on task; and of course, to keep the peace. I agree with Ned Flander's statement that often times teachers speak 2/3 of the time without giving much thought or pause for student feedback. In hopes that I can work on this area of my teaching strategies, I can attempt to do the following:

1. Have students read and answer bell work aloud.

2. Ask students to volunteer answers as well as the process they used to come up with their answers.

3. Use informal formative assessments that allow students to share and reflect on the content in the class.

4. Use student feedback to help plan and design future lesson plans.
Cutting down on my amount of teacher talk has proven to be a challenge for me as a math teacher. When I was a math student myself, the predominant teaching method used by my instructors was direct instruction, during which the students would take notes. Once we were done with a chapter's worth of notes, we would take our test and they cycle would continue. Last year, my classroom looked much like this. It has been my goal this year to break away from this pattern. I have tried to make my math classes more interactive, more discussion-based, and more applicable to my students. Although I have a ways to go, veering away from a 'direct-instruction only' classroom has greatly reduced my amount of teacher talk and has caused my students to become more engaged.
As a Physical Education Teacher, my "Teacher Talk" is mostly focused on one-on-one interactions with students. I usually spend only a few minutes talking about how to do something. Since most of the material I cover involves students using physical skills, I find it is more useful to model the skill, then have a student who feels skilled enough to model it again. I then break the class off into group work (passing the basketball using a chest pass, bounce pass, one handed pasess, or overhead passes) and move throughout the gym to make sure students are getting it right. If I see a problem, I will pull the individual aside and give him/her a quick re-teach. I also use individual practice (depending on equipment) and of course the activity in PE is game play.

I try not to talk for a very long time while in class because with dress out time we lose some time for activities and also it is usually hard to get a group of 9th grade boys to stay still for longer than 5-10 minutes when there is a cage full of basketballs waiting to be used.
I believe that there is a lot of teacher talk in my classroom, and I will be the first to admit, that on some days, there is too much teacher talk. I try to allow students to answer questions throughout the class and explain their thoughts. If they do not know the answer, I rephrase the question, so they will hopefully understand the question. When students have thoughts about the lesson we are learning or make a connection to prior knowledge, I allow them to explain their thoughts, allow students to ask questions or make comments, and I will ask questions to expand their thinking.
To cut down on teacher talk, I would like to try more group work or expert groups where students teach each other the material. I have not been able to find a way to correctly implement these strategies yet, and would like suggestions.
I think that often there is too much teacher talk in the classroom... especially with two teachers. I know that we both want to over-clarify directions sometimes and often, our kids want us to repeat the same directions. It is especially difficult because kids are used to waiting for the teacher to give them the answer which is sometimes really hard to avoid. I know that my co-teacher and I are both hoping to have much more student-centered discussion and indepedent reading/discussion groups in our next unit. Though I know that we try to have students clarify directions, sometimes we repeat their directions again after they say them. We need to work on weaning our students off the feeling that we will always repeat directions. Having the directions on the board helps to keep teacher chatter down because we can just point at the directions and move on.
In general though, I think we are getting better at having less lecture and more student activities. Like I said though, I have high hopes for this unit.
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