Can’t They Get Quiet?

I am still not feeling well, I have sore throat and cough and just feel miserable.   I should have taken a MC but there are still unsettled things at school and I have to leave school for a week. After the assembly, I begin the first lesson reviewing the exam questions with students. The beginning is OK, but i’ve the worst time when the students don’t pay their attention after the 3oth minutes. You know,  I feel “humiliated”. As they whisper, and start talking to each other, I soon realize  that the teacher in front of them now  is  as weak as a kitten. The students are getting bored. I must stop. I just wonder, can’t they just be patient for a couple of minutes or at least respect their teacher who is not feeling very well. Well, I don’t know, students are always right.

I come across with this article from Inspiring Teachers just to cheer me up. This article is written by Emma McDonald.

By Emma McDonald

Nothing is more frustrating than to have a beautiful lesson planned, one that you know students will eat up, only to have them talk throughout the whole thing. Why do I even try?, you may wonder. Why can’t they just be quiet?

Student talking is a huge issue for most teachers, but it is one that you can control if handled properly. There are several elements you need to consider when trying to curb student talking.

1. Talking is natural

For the majority of human beings, communicating with others is vital. It keeps us in touch and connected with those around us. Talking helps us get to know and understand other people. It also helps us express our thoughts, ideas, and feelings.

Think about the last teacher in-service you attended. As soon as the presenter offered a neat idea or unique thought, what did almost every teacher in the room do? They most likely turned to their neighbor and started whispering. Why? As soon as an idea catches our attention, we immediately want to talk about it and share our thoughts on the subject with others.

Talking is a way for us to not only share our ideas with other people, but it is also a way to formulate and organize thoughts. Research done with small children shows that youngsters who are constantly talking are also constantly thinking. Because young children cannot control their thought and speech patterns, the two are very closely connected. Therefore, a chatty class of 3-5 year olds should be welcomed as a sign that everyone is using their brains.

So, perhaps your lesson is captivating their interest after all and the talking is a result of students thinking about the issues you are presenting. This certainly can be one way to look at it. As a workshop presenter, I schedule talking pauses after important concepts are introduced. This allows the participants, whether they be students or teachers, to discuss their thoughts on the topic with a neighbor or with the other people at their table. I don’t just stop teaching, but instead say something such as, “Now I’d like you to turn to a friend or neighbor and discuss what I just presented to you. Write down any new thoughts and ideas you generate so that you won’t forget them later.” Then I give everyone several minutes to talk while I walk around listening and monitoring the individual discussions.

2. Students are bored

Have you ever noticed that when you are not interested in something your attention tends to wander? As teachers, this can result in grading papers, planning units or lessons, or filling out paperwork during in-services or meetings. Our students don’t have nearly the responsibilities that we do, so they naturally turn to talking about subjects that do interest them.

Keeping student interest is an important way to curb talking. If your students are conversing during a lesson, take a moment to consider why. Are they talking because they are interested or because they are bored? If your students are bored, you need to stop what you are doing and surprise them. For example, one year I was teaching a lesson to a group of 8th graders on sentence elements. I had attempted to make it as interesting as I could, but after the fifth time of asking students to stop talking, I realized that I had not captured their attention at all. So, I stopped in the middle of a sentence, faced the board and wrote a couple of gibberish sentences on the board. I mixed up the nouns, verbs, adjectives, left out punctuation, and used capital letters in various places within words. Then I announced to the class that these were the directions to their class assignment. All assignments were do at the end of class. Everyone who turned in the assignment would get an automatic “A” and everyone who did not would get an “F”. The I said, “Get started. You have 20 minutes left.”

You can imagine the shock on their faces. The classroom exploded in noise, and I let them. They were talking about the instructions on the board. Many complained loudly, a few took out pieces of paper, and some raised their hands to ask me further questions. I let the class go like this for a couple of minutes before I used my quiet signal. “What is the problem?” I asked them. “The assignment is on the board for everyone to see.”
“But Mrs. McDonald, we can’t understand it,” someone said aloud.
“What do you mean? I wrote it out didn’t I?”
“But you didn’t write it so that we can read it.”
We went on like this for a while with me asking them questions of “Why not and what do you mean” until they finally realized that the stuff I was teaching them about sentences was important after all. We unscrambled the sentences together, which took the rest of the class period, and I gave the assignment as homework. I took my boring lesson, threw it out the window and taught on the spur of the moment. Sometimes we need to do the unexpected to capture our student’s attention.

3. Consider your attitude about talking

A teacher who demands absolute silence is one who is asking for disaster. The more you require silence, the less they will actually quiet down. Take a moment to think about the times when you absolutely expect students to be quiet and attentive. To me, direct instruction, giving directions, or addressing the class for whatever reason are the most important times for quiet. Therefore, I try to schedule times throughout the class period or day for students to talk. It is important to explain to the class ahead of time that they will be given an opportunity to talk. This makes it a give and take situation for you and your students. At this point talking is now a privilege you offer to your students and it can be taken away if it is abused.

Talking in class is just like anything else. The more you deny something, the more a person wants it. The more you deny talking, the more they will want to talk. If you give them times to talk, then they won’t want it as much. You’ll find that even during the “okay” talking times, your class is much more quiet than it ever was before.

Source :

Moving Beyond “Do you like?”

Getting students to express preference and to make choices is as easy as holding out a red pencil and a blue pencil and letting them choose, then providing practice and drills based on the language that facilitates that choice.

This is taken one step further with open ended questions like Which sport do you like? This essentially boils down to a vocabulary lesson with a few rotating structures and is a good way to teach sports related language or another common language from food to animals to school subjects.

Getting students to move beyond this to express meaningful opinions in the classroom is often a difficult proposition for both ESL teachers and students. Students need to have achieved a certain level of proficiency before they are comfortable moving past the “do you like?” stage. However, leading students through this transition can open them to critical thinking in a second language and can route them into a new way of expressing themselves and to interacting with the world around them.

Opening students to debate and exchanging unique, critical and more complex opinions can be done relatively easily over a few months, and when you spend the time building this skill, the reward in student language retention, self confidence and a whole host of positive factors will converge as you move forward.

Step 1: agree or disagree

Starting simple and going slow will improve the overall quality of the class and will allow students to naturally progress as they move forward. A good way to introduce this element into your class is to give students the initial push, I agree with Yuka and I disagree with Kentaro. Allow students to correct homework as a group and allow them to practice this initial language. Depending on cultural elements, the age of students, their social status and other factors this could go quickly, or could take some time to develop.

Step 2: justify disagreement

The next push is having them justify their disagreement. This will often happen naturally as students say, I disagree with Kentaro. The answer is C. At this point, the word “because” becomes very important. Teaching students the importance of the word “because” can be challenging at times, but once it is solidly embedded, it quickly becomes a cornerstone of their language and enables students to make all kinds of creative expressions. When students are comfortable using “because” on a regular basis, they will naturally start asking “Why?” and when students ask “Why?” independently, that is a major victory and a huge breakthrough. Supporting another student’s opinion with a secondary argument also goes hand-in-hand with this concept: I agree with Kentaro because the answer is A. It says so in the first sentence.

Step 3: build arguments

In the next stage, students are ready to explore elementary debating propositions. As always, start easy and progress slowly. This can be done by having them explore familiar concepts, presented as statements: Soccer is a boring sport. Video games are bad. Once students grasp this concept of trading ideas and supporting and disagreeing, they are ready for a subtly more complex proposition such as Should student’s have to wear uniforms?

At this point students are ready for the columns of, “Yes” and “No.” Allow them to build arguments and provide reasons for their positions. This is a good time to introduce note-taking into the mix. Have students write their opinions in answer the question in their notebooks.

Step 4: offer counter opinions

Following this, the project gets a little more difficult and may feel like pulling teeth at times. The students are first required to answer with their opinion on the statement: I think that students should wear uniforms so it is easy to see who is a student at that school. Then the same student has to offer a counter opinion as a follow up, which at times can be quite challenging: If students don’t have to wear uniforms, they can show their own style. This can be managed with engaging questions. This forces the student to examine the issue from two sides, in support of and in opposition to. After the student’s have all offered one opinion and then a counter opinion, have them select the best answer in it’s entirety and present it.

Step 5: agree and disagree (sit on the fence)

After students have become comfortable with presenting their desired position at the conclusion of the “debate” they can move into “fence-sitting,” where students simultaneously hold two opinions and say things like, Yes, children should have to go to bed before mid-night, because they need rest for the next day, but if I stayed up until 1 a.m. I could finish my Math homework.

Step 6: use the skills in a variety of contexts

At this point, you have students who are ready, willing and able to freely express themselves in a confident manner, and although the grammar and the vocabulary are lacking at times, they have the skills needed to contribute to and shape the debate. There are several directions you can explore at this point, including elementary experiments in democracy, business, debates on art, culture, or resource selection for their own learning. The potential to expand is endless.

My pilot class for this project is currently at this stage and I want to take the debate framework one step further before I open them up to more exciting projects: setting up a hypothetical debate. I call this the “what if” stage. Taking a proposed statement, making a decision and then dealing with the repercussions from that decision. In the coming weeks, I want to give them a question such as one most famously asked by Morgan Spurlock in Super Size Me: What would happen if I ate Mc Donald’s for one whole month?

When students have the ability and confidence to freely trade ideas and to expand on each other’s ideas and even challenge these ideas, they can set about building bridges. They can confidently move beyond “Do you like?” They can express why they like something, aspects they don’t like, advice to change the elements they don’t like and advice to improve on aspects they do like. They can even deal with the outcomes of the proposed changes and can fully explore the issues that will challenge them, as they deal with a new language.

(by Randy Poehlman)
Source : Teaching Village

Top 10 Worst Things a Teacher Can Do

Here is a list of items that you should avoid as a new or veteran teacher. I have only included serious items in my list and have left off such obvious offenses as having affairs with students. However, any of these can create problems for you as a teacher and if you combine two or more than just expect to really have a hard time gaining student respect and finding your profession enjoyable.

1. Avoid smiling and being friendly with your students.
While you should start each year with a tough stance and the idea that it is easier to let up than to get harder, this does not mean that you shouldn’t have students believe that you aren’t happy to be there.

2. Becoming friends with students while they are in class.
You should be friendly but not become friends. Friendship implies give and take. This can put you in a tough situation with all the students in the class. Teaching is not a popularity contest and you are not just one of the guys or girls. Always remember that.

3. Stop your lessons and confront students for minor infractions in class
When you confront students over minor infractions in class, there is no possible way to create a win-win situation. The offending student will have no way out and this can lead to even greater problems. It is much better to pull them aside and talk to them one-on-one.

4. Humiliate students to try and get them to behave.
Humiliation is a terrible technique to use as a teacher. Students will either be so cowed that they will never feel confident in your classroom, so hurt that they will not trust you ever again, or so upset that they can turn to disruptive methods of retaliation.

5. Yell.
Once you’ve yelled you’ve lost the battle. This doesn’t mean you won’t have to raise your voice every once in awhile but teachers who yell all the time are often those with the worst classes.

6. Give your control over to the students.
Any decisions that are made in class should be made by you for good reasons. Just because students are trying to get out of a quiz or test does not mean that you should allow that to happen unless there is a good and viable reason. You can easily become a doormat if you give in to all demands.

7. Treat students differently based on personal likes and dislikes.
Face it. You are human and there will be kids you will like more than others. However, you must try your hardest never to let this show in class. Call on all students equally. Do not lessen punishments for students you really like.

8. Create rules that are essentially unfair.
Sometimes the rules themselves can put you in bad situations. For example, if a teacher has a rule that allows for no work to be turned in after the bell rings then this could set up a difficult situation. What if a student has a valid excuse? What makes a valid excuse? These are situations it would be best to just avoid.

9. Gossip and complain about other teachers.
There will be days when you hear things from students about other teachers that you just think are terrible. However, you should be noncommittal to the students and take your concerns to the teacher themselves or to administration. What you say to your students is not private and will be shared.

10. Be inconsistent with grading and/or accepting late work.

Make sure that you have consistent rules on this. Do not allow students to turn in late work for full points at any time because this takes away the incentive to turn in work on time. Further, use rubrics when you are grading assignments that require subjectivity. This helps protect you and explain the reason for the students’ grades.

By Melissa Kelly , Guide

Keepin’ em posted


There is now a new generation of teachers who share their thoughts and communicate with students through blogging.

IT IS a “place” where she expresses her thoughts and feelings freely and to Saodah Ajil, the writings on her blog are a reflection of herself. Hailing from Kelantan, this teacher likes sharing educational articles and inspirational sayings with her students and her own brood of children at

She adds that she also loves to express the beauty she finds in prayer, children and education on her blog, as they are inspiring.
While keen to improve her proficiency in English, she is also proving the point that older, “motherly” teachers like her can be tech-savvy too.

Similarly Cyril Dason, a young teacher, who is also into blogging says “it’s good for networking and putting my thoughts out there. I also have students reading my blog and it’s a platform to share my knowledge with them”.

Cyril blogs voraciously in about his personal thoughts but sometimes offers his followers a dose of current issues together with automotive and tech news.

The ICT (Information Communication Technology Literacy) teacher in Kuching who also heads the fraternity of Sarawak Bloggers —, says that it is exciting to get to know people and see how their life is different from his. “My close friends at the moment are mostly from the blogging circle. Not all of them are teachers though – some are executives, CEOs (chief executive officers), varsity students and even people involved in health care. On top of that, blogging helps improve my English.”

Blogging expands one’s social network and allows an individual to vent their feelings, says Caroline Charles, who adds that in the end, one is addicted to sharing their daily thoughts on his or her blog!” This young teacher from Keningau, Sabah, says that she first began blogging to record the progress of her chemotherapy sessions while being treated for Persistent Thropoblastic Disease.

Blogging to her was so therapeutic that she continued even after her treatment had ended. “I blog mostly about my personal life that revolves around my passion for beauty, travel, weddings, dog, shoes, shopping, books and self-reflection. I had so much to blog about my students that I finally created another blog just for school-related entries.” Her blogs are : ; and

She also reflects on what she has written. “Once the year is up, I look through my posts and note what I have and haven’t achieved. This helps me put my life goals back on track.”

Amanda, another young teacher, blogs to air her opinions on current issues and trends. In addition, she writes her own poems. Her blog is also an invaluable teaching tool because she uses it to post literature notes for her students. Content-wise, teachers have to be careful.

“As a teacher, I have to watch what I write,” agrees Amanda. “As a role model, it’s tough to be pure in heart, words and deed. And that’s where the problem lies. No sensitive issues! It’s a complete oxymoron to want to speak my mind, and at the same time be polite about it!”

Her principal can read her blog too! While she toes the line somewhat, Amanda feels she needs to remain “real” to her students who understand only too well where her angst comes from.

Meanwhile, Muhd Radin Muhd Imaduddin, who is currently attached to the Education Ministry’s Curriculum Development Division, blogs to move forward with the times. He started his blog in 2004 because as a member of PEPIAS (Persatuan Pelajar Islam Selangor), he was dissatisfied at what was achieved in small circle meetings. While his blog allowed him to compile and organise the essence of their discussions, it died a natural death when he was posted to Sarawak in 2007, where online access was denied to him.

A year later, upon his transfer back to Peninsular Malaysia, he revived his blog and even got students to improve its “cosmetic” appeal. “Why blog?” I ask him. “Why not?” he replies, “it’ is free, isn’t it? Besides, it’s easy to create, enhance and maintain. For its very flexibility, I love blogs.”

For Radin, his blog is not only his “personal space’’, but also a platform where he can open up to his students and be more available for them. “I think today’s youngsters need mentoring, and in order for us to reach them, we need to be seen as people who understand their concerns. “A teacher’s blog opens up channels of communication between him and his students and allows them to know how approachable he is.”

Radin directs his students to his blog whenever he sees them struggling with a particular issue. “In my blog,” he reveals, “there are a wide variety of sayings and articles – both religious and secular – which can motivate and inspire my students.”

In complete agreement is Guru Cemerlang (excellent teacher) Rahmah Sayuti. However in her case, she focuses on teacher development. The tagline for her blog is the “thinking teacher”. She believes “teachers should think about what they do and why they do it.”

A professional blogger, Rahmah uses her blog to help “create more awareness” while “sharing the best practices in the teaching business” with “linking useful materials for teacher development.” She is justifiably proud when she tells me that her post on the tried and tested “basic sentence patterns in English” has been downloaded 5,674 times since 2008! In fact, the ideas and links that she has been posting so far are so useful, that one ardent fan described her as a “gift” to the teaching world.

To sum up, blogs today are fast becoming a way to open up the world of teachers to others. So, the question is whether to blog or not to blog?

Our Prime Minister in his keynote address at the First Malaysia-Asean Regional Bloggers’ Conference in Kuala Lumpur last month, said that it was important to learn from the views and constructive criticisms of bloggers as this would help build a better Malaysia and future for all of us. “The relationship must be based on mutual respect. We might not agree all the time, but we cannot be disagreeable,” he said. “The government-knows-all” era is over, he added, reminding bloggers that they should know better than to trespass the line between posting their honest views and spreading lies and half-truths

Sunday May 29, 2011
Source : The Star Online