Call on Me… Please #sol17

28f9b38ff1b5c09afb557ff77fd38b06Raised Hand SoapBox

March 16, 2017

I want to get something off my chest.  I am on a mission to stop making student raise their hands to talk.  Once I was subtle about it.  I would go and teach a lesson in a class or facilitate a conversation and I just wouldn’t have the students raise their hands.  We would just start talking and that would be that.  Then I moved to a possibly more creative position.  The students would turn and talk to each other,  I would say things I heard (and didn’t hear) them say and then I moved on.  

I guess I knew I was on this soapbox, but it started to become clearer to me this year.

In classrooms,  I noticed who raised their hands… and who was called on.  Honestly, no matter how “fair” you think this is,  the same students are raising their hands… and the same students are being called on.  What’s happening to all of the other students?  I have a theory.  Some of them are checked out.  Some would NEVER raise their hands and have everyone look at them and evaluate what they are saying.  Some do that super stretch accompanied by an “oooh,  oooh,  I know, I know,”  which makes you not want to call on them.  Some of them need more time.  

Ladies and Gentleman, time, as they say,  is on our side.  We can ask some thinking question,  have the students turn and talk to each other,  insert ourselves in conversations that are stalling or going off track, and as if by magic,  every single student’s thoughts spilled out of their heads and were tried on someone else.

One teacher said to me,  oh, no,  it works great when you do it,  but it would get totally out of hand if I did it.  

Me:  In what way?

Teacher:  Everyone would be talking at once.

Me: and?

You see where this is going.  I am a zealot.  In no business meeting ever, except our staff meeting which I am also going to work on,  do adults raise their hand to speak.  If we have empathy and respect, we can manage this.  

What’s so great about not raising hands to speak?  Everyone is speaking, everyone is listening.  Everyone articulates their thinking.  It prevents “volcano mouth.” It gives everyone some processing time.  And wait for it,  this is the money shot,  all that happens in the same amount of time as the teacher calling on ONE INDIVIDUAL student.  Just saying…



Amazingly, to myself, I’ve made it halfway!

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for the March Slice of Life Challenge.

Read more slices here.



8 thoughts on “Call on Me… Please #sol17

  1. I love when people (like you) question the status quo. Why do we ask kids to raise their hands? What purpose does it really have? Is it just our need to have total control in the classroom? Thank you for raising this issue and for suggesting a great alternative – teach kids how to communicate in the real world!

  2. You are preaching to the choir! I just challenged my husband to go a week without having students raise their hands- he teaches 10th grade and in not sure if he will accept my challenge.

  3. YES! YES! YES! Looking for ways to get 100% engagement is one of my missions as well. Everyone answer at the same time! Turn and talk to your thinking partner! Think, Ink, Pair, Share! So many ways to get kids thinking and talking and learning that don’t require extending a limb with 5 digits. Thanks for this great post!

  4. Interesting concept to release the power of conversation to students…I do that for book clubs and small groups…but not a totally “flipped” classroom (lol)…I may have to see where this goes…thanks for the inspiration or gentle nudge 🙂

  5. I agree completely with you. For me raising hands is unnatural. I want children to,learn how to engage in conversations, not turn taking. It also feels like colonization.

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