How often do student-teacher interactions make sense?

How to optimize teacher-student interaction!

Teachers and pupils are the main actors in everyday school life. Their "interaction" determines the quality of the upbringing and educational processes to a considerable extent and must therefore be questioned again and again for success. This raises the question of how classroom interaction between teachers and students can be optimized so that learning is purposeful and brings positive experiences for everyone.

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Realize the importance of the interaction

The wording of the teacher-student interaction already contains important aspects of everyday school life. On the one hand, the front part of the term - teacher and student -– the actors involved in the lesson and thus the interacting partners. On the other hand, the last part of the word describes - the interaction - a mutual interaction of these participants. They influence each other in their attitudes, expectations and actions through their communication (language, gestures and symbols). It is part of the basic tools of every teacher to design the described interactions in such a way that profitable and goal-oriented learning processes result. It is important to take into account at all times that interaction can never be unilateral from just one partner, but rather must involve both partners.

Provide clear guidelines

If you want your students to follow your guidelines, clarity is required. Give specific instructions that the children or young people can follow and avoid vague and overly open statements. In order to formulate work assignments in a way that everyone can understand, make sure to keep them short and not too excessive. The more succinctly you express this, the more clearly you will get across to the learners. Also, avoid repeating instructions too often. Get the students to pay close attention during your presentations or explanations, and be patient when it comes to making sure that you really have everyone in the class.

Maintain a balanced culture of discussion

Teaching has changed fundamentally over the past few decades. Where in the past the teacher's lecture determined large parts of the action, today the demand for a high level of student activity has taken its place. The proportion of speeches by teachers has declined in favor of the pupils and lengthy explanations and monologues by the educators are no longer desired. This approach is based on various studies of learning and developmental psychology, which underline the sustainability of a student-oriented approach. It is important to let the learners have their say, to give their world views and ways of thinking space and to initiate and promote an exchange among the students. To make this possible, carefully build a culture of conversation among the children and young people and cultivate it at every opportunity.

Give your students space

In order to initiate an open and cultivated culture of discussion in your class, it is important to appreciate the individuality of the learners. Children and young people not only want to be heard, they also want to be taken seriously. Trust them to develop learning content themselves and to link it with their previous knowledge. Make the learners want to enter into a factual discourse with one another and have technical discussions.

The basis for a good culture of conversation is that children and adolescents know and observe the basic rules of conversation. This includes letting each other speak to each other and speaking or discussing objectively with one another. There are simple twists that can be used in every phase of the lesson in order to encourage the students to make more detailed statements and to encourage them to enter into a professional conversation with one another:

  • Do not allow one-word answers; ask your students to speak in full sentences.
  • Do not ask any questions yourself that can be answered with yes or no.
  • Formulate questions precisely and do not ask several questions in a row.
  • Ask the students to justify their statements.
  • Don't "drill" too much.
  • Pay attention to the meaning of the answers and do not wait for a student to literally meet your expectations.
  • Give precise assignments so that learners understand what is required.

With the help of these didactic subtleties, you slowly divert the students' attention away from yourself and give up your central position in the class discussion. In order for the learners to get more involved with each other, however, help them with the following discussion guidelines:

  • The students should call themselves by name and address themselves directly.
  • The interlocutors should look at each other while speaking.
  • Ask the students to ask the other person if there is something that they do not understand.
  • The pupils should call on each other.
  • Introduce any hand signal so that the learners can recognize when someone else wants to respond directly to their contribution to the conversation (e.g. message with a spread hand in the sense of “stop, I would like to tell you something about this”).
  • Get away from the requirement that a girl should always be called after a boy reports and vice versa.

Pupils must find themselves in an open and positive atmosphere that gives them self-confidence and does not imply a feeling of failure even if they make false statements. Rather, teach the students how to deal constructively with contradicting or even incorrect statements and encourage them to take each other seriously and, if necessary, to give each other support.

Shift the amount of speech away from you and towards the learners

A student-centered discussion culture requires a fundamental trust in the abilities of the learners and the greatest restraint on the part of the teachers. This is the only way to move away from the teacher's monologue to the active participation of the learners. The following tips should show you how you can achieve this:

  • Stay in the background during discussion boards.
  • Only get involved in the conversation if it threatens to bypass the topic.
  • Move away from summarizing work results yourself, but let a learner do it for you.
  • Promote a high degree of self-directed learning through appropriately selected teaching content, work and social forms.
  • Please note the information given above!

Give the slightly different kind of teacher-student interaction a chance and see how much fun it can be to step out of the spotlight and leave it to the learners. JS

The author Julia Schlimok is a teacher at the primary school in Mertingen and has been looking after prospective teachers in their first year of training for several years.

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