Yesterday I finally got around to sorting through a box of posters. It’s been sitting in the corner of my office since I moved into my new position, more than three years ago. I’ve been on a cleaning kick recently because I know that even if I end up teaching in a self-contained classroom again, I won’t use things I used three years ago.
As I sorted through the box, I came across a laminated cow with the word loquacious printed on it. (I used to do a vocabulary wall with a ‘Herd of New Words’ – what can I say, I live on a dairy farm in Wisconsin). I hadn’t saved any of the other words but this one, and I suddenly had a memory of why.
I learned the word loquacious from a wonderful teacher named Diane Lilly. She taught next door to me my first year, and she was an amazing mentor. I don’t remember how she introduced or taught vocabulary, but I remember her using lots of great words with her third graders. Diane and I switched kids during the day; she taught Social Studies, and I taught Science. She had a young man in her class who had been in an accident and had suffered a traumatic brain injury. One day while I was lecturing, I heard this young man’s voice from the back of the room; a slow, methodical voice that said, “Teachers are too loquacious.” At the time I was torn between thinking he was rude and thinking it was cool that he had been able to grasp and use the word correctly. It never dawned on me how right he was.
Teachers are too loquacious. We make announcements, give directions, direct discussions, share knowledge, and try to maintain order. Let’s face it, we like to talk.
But I’ve gotten better – collaborative groups, wait time, and open-ended questions all help. A few years ago I read an article that suggested using ‘Talk Circles’ to make sure each person in the group had equal opportunity to share.
I don’t know about you, but when I remember that young man saying, “Teachers are too loquacious,” I can’t help but think of all the adults in a Charlie Brown special, ‘Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah. Wah, wah, wah, wah.”
I’m not saying teachers shouldn’t talk; we just need to talk less.