Help me teacher!

These are a few approaches that can help to prevent learners relying on us in the learning process. Of course, there are many times when they will need to listen to us, follow us and learn directly from us but ultimately, I believe that we should be enabling learners to learn for themselves so that a love for learning can be promoted and they will leave our classrooms as lifelong learners.

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Use ‘teacher tokens.’
Set students a collaborative or independent extended task. They are given only 2 (you determine the number) tokens and this is the number of questions they can ask you. They can rely on whatever other resources you have provided and perhaps one another but they can only ask you 2 things.

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Bounce
Bouncing of questions is perhaps familiar to most through the questioning technique of ‘pose, pause, pounce, bounce’ but bouncing of questions is important in other ways.

Frequently, learners ask questions that they needn’t have: the answer is either in their notes, in past handouts, in the room or in their head. Bouncing a question back to them to explore these options should become routine. Yes, it’s usually easier for all concerned just to answer the question there and then but what longer term learning habits is this teaching them?

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Use ‘book, buddy, boss’ or ‘C3B4ME
These classroom slogans are effective in promoting a longer term adoption of not relying on the teacher.

Students are either encouraged to consult their book and a peer before resorting to the teacher.
Or
They are given a wide range of possible places that may have the answer, and they are asked to see three of these ‘before me’

With a continued use of such strategies, learners get to the point where they are far more autonomous and far less reliant on screaming ‘help me teacher!’ at every wrong turn.

Please comment with other suggested strategies below!

3 Responses

  1. Love the token idea and the push to get students to be more autonomous. In my context (uni in Japan), I face the opposite problem – students unwilling to ask the teacher. thus, my goal is to use these techniques, get students to start asking me ‘B4C3ME’ and then n to C3B4ME! Thanks!

    1. Thanks for commenting!
      I have seen tokens used for this- giving students a varied amount of tokens- those who ask a lot of questions are given fewer and those who never ask questions are given more. The students then have to use all of their ‘question tokens’ up in asking questions during the lesson.
      I hope these strategies get them speaking to you more! 🙂

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