Marina’s post challenges teachers to think about the type of language that they use by keeping data that will provide us with specific information related to how we communicate. There are 4 key ways in which we communicate with our students: directive statements, social statements, questions, and informational statements. Although all of these areas are essential at different times in our teaching, the purpose of this post is to get you to reflect upon the type of language that you use with your students and to consider ways of using data to provide you with important information about your own teaching.
Another Useful Strategy
You might also try asking an administrator or colleague to come in to observe you when you are teaching and to provide you with data related to these 4 areas. They don't even necessarily have to check boxes but can just listen and record in what ways you are communicating to your students. When looking at the data later, you can classify and categorize your language into directive statements, questions, social statements, and informational statements. They might also use a stopwatch to record the actual time (whole group discussion) that you spoke to your students adding another element to the data provided to you.
What to do with this data?
This data can be used in multiple ways to inform our teaching. Although directive statements are a critical part of our teaching, are there other ways to communicate what we feel is important to say to our students? Perhaps we find ourselves asking too many directive statements ("Stop that!", "Go over there!", "Focus on your own work!", "Be quiet!", etc) and want to challenge ourselves to flip directives into more empowering ways to communicate with our students. We might find that we are not actually checking in enough with our students and make it a goal to do this more often in order to build stronger relationships with those who we teach. We might notice that we are asking questions, but that this could be an area that we work on further developing. Whatever it is, by breaking down the ways in which we communicate with our students, we provide ourselves with data that can inform next steps in our teaching in an effort to refine our instruction. What might a breakdown of the way you communicate with your students look like? The example below shows the amount of teacher talk time in general. It also shows that directive statements were most common with social statements being least common.