It has been found by multiple research studies that teachers are responsible for as much as 80 percent of the talking that takes place in classrooms on a daily basis (Hattie, 2012). What has often been found to be the norm is a teacher stimulus statement, followed by a short (many times less than 5 seconds) student counter, capped off by an ending evaluative statement by the teacher. This sort of back and forth cycle then repeats over and over till the bell sounds. As Hattie (2012) asserts, it would appear that "students simply come to school to watch teachers work (p. 82)!" The myth then perpetuated by this exchange is that the teachers are "owners" of the subject being studied and students are simply along for the ride. Is this really the most powerful use of classroom communication? Research would support not so much. When teachers engage students in rich dialogue about the topic at hand interesting things begin to happen. Most notably, students engage and contribute at deeper levels and begin to relish more challenge. Highly effective teachers were found to engage students in richer dialogue which led to these teachers showing nearly two-fold student gains in deeper levels of knowing as compared to other teachers. This is a rather significant outcome arising from simply balancing the levels of teacher and student talk. In addition, these highly effective teachers learned a great deal about the levels of understanding in their students by listening to students talk. What is the proportion of teacher to student talk in your school or district? What is the overall quality of these conversations?
You might be surprised.