Quite often, the High School years are our last chance to change or influence the academic self-image of our children. It is therefore extremely important that educators recognize the “risk and reward” variables involved with oral responses in the classroom.
Unlike written responses, oral responses are available for scrutiny by teacher and peers alike. The immediate response by the teacher and other students is critical to the future academic development of the student. How they respond will have a great impact on whether the “risk” was worth the “reward”. Let’s face it, the answer would not be volunteered if the child didn’t think it was correct.
There are a number of ways to protect the child and still let him know the answer was not correct. It is usually our haste to find the correct response–so we can “move on”–that prompts a damaging response.
The following is a brief list of teacher responses that do NOT provide a nurturing environment and can cause even the brightest of students to become reluctant or even refuse to provide an oral response:
- I don’t think so.
- What were you thinking?
- The good old buzzer sound.
- Didn’t you read the material?
- Are you kidding?
- What planet are you on?
- Thanks, Einstein!
This is a short list of responses that DO provide a nurturing environment and can prompt even the most reluctant of students to challenge the “risk and reward” system in your classes when asked for an oral response:
- You are on the right track.
- You are so close.
- Almost–check with a neighbor and I’ll get back to you.
- I get what you are thinking, but can you elaborate?
- Close, but it starts with the letter “M”
- Great try.
- You are in the ballpark.
If half the students in your class are taking the “risk” fantastic! If, however, you find that your number of volunteers is dwindling, you might want to reflect on how you and the students respond to incorrect oral responses.