7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Lecture Your Students

Your lesson ends, the recess bell rings, and you release your students to the playground to let off some steam. But on the way you notice one of your students, call him Anthony, rudely shoving others aside on his way out the door.

How dare him, the little bugger.

So you run out, pull Anthony off the playground, and let him have it. You give him a fire-breathing, finger-pointing, he’s-got-it-comin’ lecture, topped off with a stern, “Do you understand me?”

He hems and haws, looks at his shoes, and mumbles an apology. Semi-satisfied, you send him on his way and head back to your classroom with a sigh.

Of course, not all lectures are so vigorous. More often, teachers lecture because they believe that with the right words their students will see the light and suddenly be transformed.

But does it work? Is lecture a viable classroom management strategy?

On the surface the answer appears to be yes. Lecturing often works in the immediate aftermath. But in the long run, it’s a costly mistake that makes classroom management more difficult.

Here’s why:

1. It’s stressful.

Using words to try and convince students to behave is perhaps the number one cause of stress among teachers. And because lecturing kinda-sorta works in the short term, teachers feel encouraged to keep on doing it—despite the tension headaches.

2. It replaces real accountability.

When you lecture students, they know that your talking-to is the accountability. And so if they can just endure it and tell you what you want to hear, then they can be on their way—free and clear and with no real accountability.

3. It sabotages real accountability.

If you send a student to time-out but give a lecture along the way, then from the student’s perspective your not following your classroom management plan as promised. It feels like a double consequence. So instead of sitting in time-out and contemplating their mistake, they’re simmering with anger over the injustice.

4. It tempts students into argument.

When you lecture, you all but dare your students to argue with you. In fact, it takes a strong-willed student not to. When backed into a corner and forced to listen to something they already know, they’re going to want to fight back.

5. It causes resentment.

Few students respond well to a lecture. More often than not, even the most genteel dressing-down causes resentment. Whether they deserve it or not doesn’t change this fact. Truth is, teachers who lecture struggle to build behavior-influencing rapport with their students.

6. It’s time-consuming.

If you rely on lecturing as a classroom management method, then teaching and learning will be affected. Lecturing students takes time, brings tension into your classroom, and takes you away from preparation, instruction, and the joy of teaching.

7. Actions speak louder.

Your words will never carry as much weight as your actions. And the longer students are in school, the more this is true. By the time they get to you, they may have been on the end of dozens of lectures—making it unlikely yours will have the desired effect.

Speak Less, Act More

The next time a student misbehaves, try saying as little as possible.

Simply tell the student what rule was broken, then enforce a consequence and move on to more important things—like teaching your class. This ensures three things:

  1. You won’t be stressed-out.
  2. The misbehaving student won’t be resentful.
  3. Accountability will do its job.

Instead of lecturing and telling your students what lessons they ought to learn, which go in one ear and out the other, let accountability work…

And they’ll soak up those lessons on their own.

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7 Responses to 7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Lecture Your Students

  1. Marie June 12, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    Michael,

    I enjoy reading your website. What is your advice on management when students don’t complete homework, projects, etc?

    Looking forward to your response,

    Marie

    • Michael Linsin June 12, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

      Hi Marie,

      I wrote a two-part series called, A Simple, Effective Homework Plan For Teachers. Follow the eight steps given and you should have few if any problems getting homework or special projects turned in.

      Michael

  2. Candace Davies June 13, 2011 at 5:42 am #

    Good Morning Michael:

    I stumbled across your website and enjoyed reading your posts. I will be sure to mention it to my readers… classroom management tips are always needed. 🙂

    Keep sharing your knowledge.

    Candace Davies

  3. Laurie Forsman June 15, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    You say to say very little but to enforce consequences — like what? It is great to tell us what not to do but what do we do?

    • Michael Linsin June 15, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

      Hi Laurie,

      There are well over 200 articles on this website showing you exactly what to do. I recommend reading through the archive (top right-hand corner), starting in the Classroom Management Plan category and going from there.

      :)Michael

  4. Charmaine December 13, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    Hi Michael
    I’ve been teaching for 26 years and have never found such amazing advice. As a young teacher nobody took the time to help and guide as this advice has. I had a breakdown this year and spent many years of my teaching career – stressed out. Loving the children but often yelling and lecturing to gain control. I wish I had known now many years ago. I look forward to every e-mail and see how I’ve made so many mistakes to my own detriment. I just wanted to say ‘thank-you’. No degree teaches you what I have learned from your articles. Charmaine

    • Michael Linsin December 13, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

      You’re welcome, Charmaine! Thank you for sharing how much you enjoy the website. I’m glad you found us. 🙂

      Michael