The Less You Say The More They Hear

Weekly Teaching Tip – Nov. 19, 2019
by Aimee Geddes

It seems obvious, doesn’t it? But how often do you find yourself going on and on about something in a lesson? It doesn’t matter how much science you know or how relevant you think your dog’s last dance session was. There is a time to shut your mouth so your students can process what you’ve told them. Here are a few ways to keep quiet so your students can hear more and so can you!

  • Use Succinct Sentences. Most people don’t need a novel to explain one concept.
  • Focus on one concept at a time.
  • Gather information and ask questions. When you keep quiet, chances are, the student will feel a need to answer and give you more information that you can use to better serve them.
  • Keep your anecdotes to a minimum. (See bulletpoint 1). If you absolutely must share an experience to help a student feel supported or to illustrate a concept, tell it in as few sentences as necessary.
  • Trust that your student understands what you already said. If they don’t, it will show up in the way they sing or the puzzled look on their face.
  • The more time you spend talking, the longer your student has to forget what they just learned. Be quiet so they can focus!
  • Spend more time listening to what they are doing than you spend explaining what it is supposed to feel like.
  • Remember, it is your job to help them, not get in the way. (Sound Familiar?)

When teaching, take a tip from songwriters. They try to convey as much as possible in as few words as possible. When words are well chosen, you don’t need many. There is no need to be silent or cold in a lesson, just make sure your words are important, and your students will hang on every one of them!

Happy Teaching!

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