Why should teachers stop talking?
Teachers love to talk. That’s the problem.
Some love to hear themselves more than the children.
But what about pressing mute and teaching silently?
The Silent Teacher technique involves a teacher modelling how to do something – its basically teaching without talking using examples instead of words. It’s particularly effective when first introducing a concept.
The Silent Way is the name of a method of language teaching devised by Caleb Gattegno and is centred on learning through awareness and movements.
The teacher uses gestures, charts, and manipulates in order to provoke and shape responses.
For example, you might be teaching maths and showing children how to do the Gelosia multiplication method. You do this showing all the steps involved without saying a word.
You communicate by drawing or showing in silence and children watch in silence too. At the end of the demonstration, children are invited to ask questions such as, “Why did you draw an arrow through the numbers?”, “Why did you divide the boxes in half?” etc.
The silent way could also be taught whereby you start something on the IWB and then invite a child to the front of the class to continue an example but without speaking. If they are right in doing what they are doing you can nod or shake your head.
Doing rather than telling is actually a powerful way for children to learn as they have to focus more and it reduces their cognitive load.
Why teach the silent way?
Silence is golden. It is also a highly engaging and effective way to teach and has a dramatic impact on classroom management.
- A teacher’s silence is so unusual, it is captivating. Children see the silence as some sort of game.
- The teacher’s silence demands visual attention from the children and puts a spotlight on the demonstration.
- Without any teacher explanation or narrative, children piece together what is happening and create meaning for themselves.
- Silence develops focus, attention and problem-solving.
- When children start to understand what you are doing, they feel empowered because the discovery is all theirs and they own the learning.
- Silent teaching is a useful technique for differentiated teaching.
Children expect us to talk and explain but in a silent movie they have to make sense of what is going on and that requires more of them as learners.
As teachers we have to be creative, use props and models, set the mood and engage. It’s actually a very enjoyable and interactive way to teach that we can mix in with ‘normal’ teaching. Performance teaching perhaps but powerful teaching nevertheless.
The Silent Teacher method can be used in any subject. Here we learn the impact it has in learning a foreign language.