Calling out is a momentum killer of the highest order and can turn a well-planned lesson into a halting mess.
But that isn’t the only reason why you should require your students to raise their hand.
Here are a few more:
Calling out is unfair
Every student has a right to participate, not just those who are more assertive. If calling out is allowed, a segment of your classroom will rarely be heard from.
Calling out inhibits learning
Good teaching allows students to form their own ideas, opinions, and conclusions before an answer is revealed or a thought expressed. Students need time—even if it’s just a few seconds—to puzzle over the presented material before discussion takes place. Calling out interferes with this process.
Calling out tilts the playing field
Students who participate do better than those who don’t. Allowing students to call out gives socially confident students an unfair advantage. Shy or less confident students, then, are left feeling unwelcome and disconnected from the rest of the class.
Calling out is rude
Allowing students to call out encourages selfishness. Students think, if I want something in this class, I’m going to have to bully my way to the front because that’s what everyone else is doing. In this environment, rudeness, unhappiness, and misbehavior are commonplace.
Teaching Students To Raise Their Hand
Requiring students to raise their hand before speaking is a must. However, I’m aware that many teachers struggle to get students to do so consistently.
The following steps are a proven solution.
Few teaching strategies are as effective as detailed modeling, especially for teaching procedures. Your students need to know exactly what you expect from them. The most effective way to do this is to sit in a student’s chair, and show them precisely how you want them to raise their hand.
2. Use the “how not” strategy
Show your students how not to raise their hand. Act out common unacceptable behaviors. You know the ones: waving their hand to get your attention, calling out with their hand up, sighing and drawing attention to themselves, beginning to speak before you actually address them. Your students need to be clear about what hand raising does and doesn’t look like.
Have your students show you what proper hand raising looks like. Have them practice by asking you questions about your favorite sport or hobby, or by offering information about their own.
Students need plenty of opportunities to ask questions and share their thoughts. But there are times when your room needs to be closed for discussion. For example, you might say, “We’re going to start independent reading in a few minutes. Are there any questions… about anything? Now is a good time to ask. Once we begin reading, you’ll have to hold your questions or comments until we’re finished.”
If a student calls out and waves their hand at you, first ignore them. Send the message that you don’t respond to anything except proper hand raising. This also keeps you from accidentally responding—which is a no-no.
Continue to ignore, but move over to the whiteboard and put the student’s name up—or turn their card over or whatever system you use to communicate a consequence. As part of your classroom management plan, hand raising should be an enforceable rule. (See The Only Classroom Rules You’ll Ever Need.)
The only exception to the hand-raising rule is when you’re working with a small group of students. Guided reading or literature circles should allow for polite but free-flowing conversation.
Hand raising is a critical element of effective teaching. I’ve never known a teacher who was lax in this area and didn’t have problems with student behavior, learning, engagement, time management, and more.
So is it really doable?
Absolutely. Follow the steps above and stick with it. Never give in and accept less than what is right for your students.
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