Do Teachers Think Enough About Some Teaching Strategies That Have Been Used For Decades?

Questions Raised about A Common Reading Strategy


Herbert W. Hunt, Ed D


These comments come from my personal experiences of observing hundreds of classroom from Kindergarten through Higher Education. These observations have been made in a wide variety of school districts— financially solvent to financially challenged, districts of all sizes and students from a wide range of socio-economic communities.

I want to preference my comments by stating that in the vast majority of classrooms I have observed the teachers were doing an outstanding job of teaching. From these observations I have come to the conclusion that there are certain characteristics that make some teachers master teachers whether they teach in the primary grades or at the graduate level.

I want to focus on the concept that the master teachers know how people learn and use this knowledge in lesson planning and their classroom teaching. I can explain this characteristic best by an example. For as long as I have been in classrooms, and before, teachers have used a strategy I will call “reading around the room”. I have also heard teachers refer to it as “Popcorn Reading”. This seems to be a strategy that has been passed down from decade to decade.

Over the years I have asked student teachers at the graduate and undergraduate level if they liked this teaching strategy when they were students in public or in some cases private school. The vast majority have responded negatively. When I asked why they felt this way the responses were: “I didn’t like to read in front of other students “, ”I don’t read well orally”, “ I am embarrassed”, “ I don’t like to listen to others read when they don’t read well”, “after I finish reading I did not follow along and did not pay attention”. I believe that most teachers recognize this but unfortunately continue to use this teaching strategy.

The master teachers are those who have thought about what teaching strategies do not work and then make the necessary adjustments for their students. In the example I have used an adjustment that can be made might be: choral reading, pair reading or team reading where in teams of four one student reads and the other three follow along. Using any of these strategies will hold more students individually accountable and will keep them actively engaged.

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