Lazy Teacher’s Handbook

Lazy Teacher's Handbook

front cover of the Lazy Teacher’s Handbook

Whilst scanning the book shelf in the library for ICT related literature in my quest to put a reading list together for my new course, I stumbled across this amusingly titled book: The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook by Jim Smith. I just couldn’t resist.

The bi-line reads: ‘How your students learn more while you teach less’ and sets the premise that if we teach less, the students will learn more (oh, and maybe reduce teacher stress at the same time) bonus.

Just one chapter in, and it is an amusingly written book. While not all the ideas in the first chapter are new there are a few that have stuck with me and I’d like to try.

Old Fashioned Teaching with a Lazy Twist.

He outlines four of the most common teaching styles that he sees:

* whole class instruction
* whole class debate and discussion
* group work
* silent work

and then suggest a Lazy Way make over for each one.

Here are a couple of the techniques I would like to try out:

1) Envoys. During small group work, an ‘envoy’ is sent from one group to another with two tasks. 1) to listen and report back to their own group and 2) to share their group’s ideas with this new group. I will certainly try this one out with the new CELTA group.

2) Think – Pair- Square-Share. This is not a new technique and possible one I use quite a lot, however I don’t think I’m very consistent with the ‘think’ stage, and usually go straight for the ‘pair’, so I want to think about this. The second thing I like about this is the term, I’ve never heard it called this before and it provides a simple was to share the technique with the trainees to help them think about how to use it with their ESOL students.

3) Thinking line-up. This is possibly my favourite. Again, not so dissimilar to a technique I’ve used before. For example, I may ask ESOL students to stand in a line in alphabetical order, or house number, or number of children, etc. and I’ve had students standing in place for whether they agree or disagree with a statement. But this technique takes this one step further and asks that students stand in line, a sort of ‘thought-continuum’. This means they have to discuss their ideas and opinions with others in the group before deciding to what degree they agree or disagree. I think this could work really well with higher level ESOL students and definitely with the CELTA group. A follow on from this task would then be to ‘bend’ the line and have students at opposite ends share their opinions. Nice.

4) Allocate roles. He mentions a number of roles that could be allocated to students while working in groups, but the two I like are:

* Facilitator: name the person who will feedback to the group before the activity starts – this way they are responsible for summarising the activity and keeping the group on task. Maybe a little ‘school pubil-y’ but some groups can be reluctant to report back to the class and this would support them keeping on task and being concise.
* Team rep: this is the person in the group that you can bring to the front if you want to give extra information to a group or all the groups. This way you are not interrupting the flow of the group’s activity. I like this one a lot.
Chapter 2 is The Lazy Approach to Lesson Outcomes. I’m intrigued!


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