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David Semitekol

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Gaining your student's attention

What makes a poor teacher without regards to the subject matter? A poor teacher is one who shows up late to class or even just on time. They do not seem to be ready for the class, or they do not have a plan or itinerary. The same is true with business meetings. Ever attend a meeting where there is no itinerary? The meeting is conducted haphazardly and never seems to have direction or reach its goals. Another issue is the teacher making excuses for poor or missing equipment. This falls back to the teacher not being properly prepared for class. All of this places a negative cloud over the teacher’s head and places doubt in the students. Your students must trust you and believe that you are the leading authority on the subject. This boils down to exuding and displaying confidence. They must respect you and this respect will never be achieved through one of the aforementioned examples. Always remember that the teacher is the beacon of light in a dense cloud of fog. If your light doesn’t work properly or know where to shine, your students will remain lost in a sea of confusion.

Now in the classroom you must make sure that your students are actively listening. You can quickly lose your audience as they just sit there and nod their heads in compliance or direct their attention elsewhere. If you have a class that is comfortable with each other you can easily achieve an active audience. You will find and should encourage your students to ask questions, work on problems, and fail at problems. This will keep them interested and actively listening which will increase their ability to understand the material, thus learning it. When you notice your students drifting it is then that you must interact with them, do not simply continue on with your lecture. What is the point in getting through the material on time if your students don’t understand it? Teaching is not a production line where you build things, it is a garden where you grow things, and that takes time.


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  • Feb 1 2012: Hey, I am currently a collage student and I gave a lot of thought to this topic myself.
    I had great teachers as well as terrible ones.

    Anyhow, I think the best teachers are the ones that you have a personal friendly atmosphere with. The one who you know is ok to joke around with and one that you know would support you even if you ask stupid questions.
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      Feb 2 2012: Quote: "one that you know would support you even if you ask stupid questions."

      There is no such thing as a stupid question. Just stupid answers.....Dedicated teachers know this.
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        Feb 2 2012: Mary, I think I may have found a stupid question. . . "Why does Donald Duck wear a towel after his shower but wears nothing when going out in public?" What do you think? Is that a stupid question?
        I'm not being totally sarcastic, or disrespectful to the conversation. Its just that I think there really are stupid questions. I don't believe there is no such thing as a stupid question.
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          Feb 3 2012: As en educator Ed I have long discovered that every question asked by a student needs to be answered. It is a way of respecting the student's right to learn.

          If after watching cartoons of Donald Duck in class, a child is observant enough to notice the detail of him wearing a towel after a shower and then proceeding to wear nothing afterwards, then that child is very observant.

          If confronted with that particular question from a young child, I would first congratulate the child on his observation, then proceed to answer it.......and, "I don't know" is a wonderful answer when one really doesn't know. It's ok for teachers to answer a question with I don't know.....or I've asked myself that question a dozen times......especially if the question has nothing to do with academics, and it's just nickel knowledge.

          If the question is tongue-in-cheek, and you can usually tell when questions are of this kind, especially from older students, then a teacher could always say: "Are you being silly, smart alecky, or are you sincere?" And there is the option of answering questions in private....this way you can correct a child's attitude towards question asking if need be.

          I honestly, and deeply feel, that in a classroom environment, there is no such thing as a dumb question. Every question reveals something about the person asking it.

          By the way....you used a double negative in your last sentence; it should read: I don't believe there is any such thing....." (couldn't help myself Ed)

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          Feb 3 2012: Mr. Long
          I agree with Mary. I remember when my kids were young and they would play the why game. I would always answer until eventually they stopped asking. Why is the sky blue? Because the refraction of light through water...
          And in the case of your question. Because the animator is either placing the character within the story or setting up a joke. The reason he wears nothing out in public is because it is too difficult and expensive to animate a duck with clothes.
          The techniques of animation... ;)
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        Feb 2 2012: I agree with you Mary to a point. There are no stupid questions but some clearly are out of context or from a student who just wasn't paying attention the last five minutes :)

        At times though it is nice to hear any type of question, especially after dead silence. What ever gets the kids attention, this leads to active listening which should eventually lead to learning the material.
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          Feb 3 2012: Questions that are out of context allows a teacher to have insight to what is going on in a child's head.......this is a teachable moment!!!

          And if it is more than one student asking the dumb questions, then the teacher is failing to fully get his point across and should change strategies. It is a win/win situation.

          The exception of course, would be the problematic child, that looks for attention with negative behavior..........that is a totally different conversation. Kids who yell out questions that are totally off topic continuously need to be addressed using proper classroom management techniques.

          Great topic of conversation David.
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        Feb 3 2012: I yield to your maturity and obvious skill as a classroom manager. My remarks were sophomoric and inappropriate. I apologize. However, I defend the structure of my closing sentence against the charge of illegal use of a double negative. I stated that I do NOT believe the statement which claims there are NO stupid questions. That is two negatives in the same sentence but ithe second negative (no) is a quote of another statement. Am I correct? Thank you Mary.
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          Feb 3 2012: Why thanks ED.....I am honored with your kind words of recognition.

          And, you are very much correct about your double negative. Due to a lack of quotation marks, I did not catch that you were quoting me. I stand corrected.

          Have a fabulous Friday Ed!!!!

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