It is indeed true that when students speak, they learn. In some schools, however, there are systems that do not even allow students to speak. How then do we want them to learn?
Giving students power by means of enabling conversations in classes allows for an equitable learning opportunity for them.
How then can you ensure every student has a fair ecosystem for holding conversations and learning from them?
In this article, we will be sharing ways by which you can encourage students to effectively take part in class conversations irrespective of their conversational styles.
Change question pattern
As a teacher, try as much as possible to reduce generic and non-targeted questions. This is because those types of questions ensure that it is only outspoken students or students who are confident in their answers that get to speak.
This is unhealthy because it does not only undermine the best practice of allowing students to formulate their thinking but also subtly etches in students’ subconscious that getting the right answer to a question trumps learning from that question.
Avoiding generic questions ensures you only entertain questions that are intentional in their design and target which in turn ensures that all voices are honored.
As a teacher, you understand that some students have in-born conversational tendencies while some build it over time.
Some control conversations while some prefer to listen. Then there are those who are in between — they control conversations sometimes and other times, they just listen in.
Understanding this, you should be intentional in creating a fair learning environment that will benefit all students, irrespective of their conversational capabilities.
Creating a healthy space for students to have conversations is hinged on standard collaboration.
Building self-monitoring skills in students that are dominant conversationalists helps them transition from participating vocally to facilitating conversations strategically.
For students who only like to listen out of habit or because they are shy, you can create an enabling environment for them to express themselves by way of sharing their thoughts on topics and answering questions, and building their confidence level.
Creating a space that encourages fairness when it comes to conversations enables healthy collaborative practices that promotes awareness of one another and build sensitivity.
This will allow students’ in-born conversational tendencies to be acknowledged while upholding their individual rights to be heard.
Enable an equitable ecosystem
To enable an equitable ecosystem for students, you need to encourage more conversations of them and by them (the students) and less of yours. This means your voice should not dominate conversations. Rather, students should be given the opportunity to have these conversations while you facilitate.
Be very clear that verbal processing is an important aspect of learning. Let them know that their mistakes and questions are welcome, that their voices matter, and that the process isn’t easy but it is collaborative and rewarding.
Your tone also matters when conveying your message. A student is more likely to participate in class when they are invited to contribute than when they are mandated to. The latter undermines a fair environment.
You can also have a one-on-one conversation with students individually (verbally or via questionnaires) in order to know what participation styles they are comfortable with.
That way, you can give advise on how you think they can improve.
Strategy for participation
You now know what to do to get students to participate in class and drive conversations. How then do you hope to achieve this?
You can begin with protocols because they enable participation.
Firstly, students should be given time to think. It’ll be more like their quiet time when they have to write or mentally process topics in order for them to prepare for conversations.
This is very effective because it gives reserved students confidence and courage in conversations while also encouraging students who speak too fast to add depth and complexity to their thoughts.
Students will know ahead of time that they will be speaking and prepare themselves. This ensures that even shy students have something to say.
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