Slow Down: Children Present

I’ve got a problem.  My problem is that I get excited about what I teach.  No, that’s not the problem–the problem is that when I do get excited, I talk fast.  Too fast for my students to understand me.  I know this because my principal gave a generic “how’s the class going/comments/suggestions” survey to a few of my classes and about 45 of the 51 students who took the survey mentioned that I talked too fast.  Oops.

So the very next day, I created a new participation points job: the “slow-down-Mr.-Newman-you’re-talking-way-too-fast” sign holder.  See explanation Powerpoint below:

Here’s the sign with front & back:

Please, consider them!

Please consider them!

Just like iTunes...

Just like iTunes…

Students may sign up for the role at the beginning of the week and all their job is to listen carefully as they are taking notes, and if I start talking too fast, they simply hold up the sign.

The first day I was very conscious not to talk too fast simply because I knew the sign was “out there”, but hopefully this can help me become a better teacher in the future.



Filed under Teaching

7 responses to “Slow Down: Children Present

  1. I love that you really took to heart the survey results! Your kids will know you listened to their concerns and be active in holding you accountable to working on it! I love the PPs and hope to use it in my own classroom next year. This is a great addition to the numerous opportunities you already provide for PPs! 🙂

    • Thanks! And I really want to hear how PPs go for you if you try them out–I’m always looking for more opportunities for students to “participate” in the class through PPs.

  2. Great stuff! Sadly, your opening paragraph is not far from the truth as some see it. Last year, in explaining why his daughter was moving from my Algebra II Honors back into a non-honors section instead, a parent told me that his daughter thought that I just got too excited about stuff in class. I had a hard time processing that one. I love that you thoughtfully responded to student concerns, but I hope you never make a sign that says “Calm down, you’re too excited by these ideas.”

    • Don’t worry, I think (hope?) the students appreciate the excitement, just not the result of me talking faster from that. Yeah, I wonder if in the future I’ll slow down naturally because my excitement for a subject may diminish the 15th time I teach that class… I hope not too much, but at least my students would understand me then!

  3. Excellent post! I think a trait of a good teacher must include the incorporation of criticism. I love the sign. You might also be interested in the red yellow green cup.

    I’ve adapted it from a variety of things for my own use. Basically 3 colours painted on a cup. Students are to turn the red towards you if they are stuck or yellow if you are going too fast… Etc. another thing you can build into this is if students show you red, you can get those with green cups to answer. It builds accountability along with active reflection of where they are at.
    Let me know if you decide to try that!

    • Actually, I tried this my 1st year of teaching when I was teaching 6th graders. Instead of cups (cups are probably a better idea), I used construction paper and just folded them in half so they sat up on the students’ desk. The construction paper was probably cheaper, but took more time, AND fell off the desk more easily. So I found myself picking up those little pieces of paper each day because the students didn’t take care of them (well, they’re 6th graders, what can you expect?).

      I ended up doing away with them, mostly because the students ignored them after a certain point, as well as began using the pieces of paper for graffiti and profanity (I should have laminated them!), and it just wasn’t worth the headache. Now that I have seniors & juniors in HS, I’m sure they’d treat them better, but I wonder if they’d find them too… uhh, elementary? Of course, you’d think holding up a sign that says “slow down!” would be elementary, but they loved the idea.

      Have you blogged on your use of the cups? I’d love to hear more about it, even if I’m not going to adapt it at this point in the year.

  4. Pingback: End of Year Surveys – 2015 | Hilbert's Hotel

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