Wednesday, January 28, 2009

SHH! This Is Not a Talking Time!

Picture this:

You walk into a Kindergarten classroom and all the children are sitting at their tables, doing their job, and no one is saying a word.
Ideal right?

I might go home with less headaches at the end of the day but... WRONG!

Providing opportunities for children to talk and develop language skills is a very important aspect of a child's literacy development. How can we achieve this if we continue to SHHush our students and limit their chances to speak to one another?

I can't tell you how many times a day I have said, "This is not a talking time!" to my students: walking in line, during writer's workshop, by-yourself reading time, calendar time, morning meeting, etc. So when are students talking? Only at snack, lunch and recess? YIKES!

In the past I once thought that "learning" couldn't possibly be going on in a noisy classroom and maybe there is some truth to that, but if I actually listen to the noise in the classroom during those "non-talking times," what do I hear? Hopefully, children engaging in conversations with one another, sharing ideas, and asking each other questions.

I recently read that children and teachers spend relatively little time (less than 17%) in classrooms engaged in conversations. These limited opportunities for children to talk and receive feedback ultimately limit students' literacy development.

Reading this frightened me and encouraged me to reflect on my own teaching. Am I doing all I can in my classroom to actually PROMOTE talking?


Jenny S said...

Interesting!! I am having fun reading your blog!! I am sure you are an amazing teacher! And congrats with Wes!!

Kristin said...

I agree with you, conversations in schools do seem to be limited. Everything has a structure and if you don't adhere to that structure you get in trouble. For example, walking in a straight line without talking. Kids aren't mean to walk in straight lines and not talk. They are meant to run around and talk and yell and have fun. That's how they learn about the world, through exploring things and expressing themselves. Obviously this isn't appropriate all of the time but there should definitely be more opportunities within the school day for them to break out of the structured setting and just have fun.

kharrell said...

As a prek teacher, my room is always noisy. I think as teacher we're often expected by others to want quiet classrooms. I find myself wondering sometimes if when others enter my room, if they are listening to what the children are talking about or if all they hear is noise. Kindergarten classrooms often have even more pressure on the children and teachers than preschool. Noise level is just one more balancing act we're asked to perform!

April said...

Your posting is so true. As a public school teacher, I walk into the cafeteria daily to see our cafeteria monitor telling the students they cannot talk the first 15 minutes of lunch. They only have 30 minutes, so this leaves them only 15 minutes to talk. For many of the children in the school, this is one of the few times during the day that they have the chance to socialize with their peers. As I sit at the teacher table, with everyone talking, I ask myself, if I can't be quiet for 15 minutes, how can we expect our students to?

kathy said...

There are definitely days when I get overwhelmed by the noise, but I am almost uncomfortable when my classroom is quiet. I feel my classroom is at its best when it is in a state of "controlled chaos". For me that means the kids are happily engaged in the centers I planned, and in order to do that I truly feel they need to be talking about what they are doing. We have had tours come in lately and sometimes I can see that the prospective parents are taken aback by how loud the class is. As long as I can hear my guided reading group, I am happy:)

Megan said...

Your blog is very entertaining, Blair! I totally agree with what you're saying. When I was little, I didn't go to preschool, but my grandmother watched me during the day, and she talked to me all day long. As a result, I talked very early and could read (so to speak) by kindergarden. My nephew likes to play the Silent Game, but we modified it so that the only one who had to be quiet was him. That way everyone else could talk, and my nephew would be happily competing with himself. After doing our readings for today, I feel kind of guilty, and I don't think I'll ever play the Silent Game again : )

laylablue said...

i am thrilled to have located your blog. i am a wife, mother of 2, and soon to be graduate (april 25)
elem. ed.

Gray Matter said...

First off, LOVE the redesign! Secondly, I think you're right, however I think there is a big difference between "talking" and "babbling." My son is 9 and half the time he's just spewing nonsense to fill the air. "Just stop talking!" is a frequent refrain in my house. Cue clicking, swishing sounds, and skatting "You said no TALKING..."

Jenny S said...

Well, after coming to the school last night we REALLY would love to have Kyle there! It looks like an amazing environment! As to the talking, if Kyle gets into your class.....just TRY keeping him quite!!! hehehe!