Some of you know that my one (and most likely, only) Ignite talk, Unsilence Students’ Voices, focused on listening to students and encouraging them to talk. Along with that idea is to become more aware of what you, the teacher, say in the classroom. The best way to find out what you really said is to listen to it later.

Annie’s “Phone in the Pocket” Idea
Some time ago I overheard Annie suggest to a teacher that she use her SmartPhone to record herself. (Can’t you just hear Annie’s voice as she explains this!) Annie said that you should just turn on voice recording on your phone, stick the phone in your pocket and after about 10 minutes take the phone out of your pocket and turn it off. Casual. No fuss. Then later in the day when you have 10 minutes, listen to the recording and ask yourself

What do you notice? What do you wonder? … and what do you want to try next time?

Suzanne’s Addendum to Annie’s Great Idea
During the week, change the time in the class period that you try this. So, for example, start by recording the first 10 minutes of class. The next day, try to record the second 10 minutes and then make it later into the class until you also record the last 10 minutes. Resist taping the entire class because it’s unlikely you’ll sit later and listen to the entire recording. You want it to be manageable so that you can make use of the recording.

I can’t help but point to what Max wrote in Chapter 3 of Powerful Problem Solving and, in particular, the section titled Encouraging Active Listening that starts on page 26:

The first step in creating a classroom in which students actively listen to one another is to convince students that what their classmates are saying is worth listening to.

On page 27 Max lists some suggestions for “making whole-group conversations in math class more like conversations at a dinner party.” Fun would be to pick a few of those, make your 10 minute recordings and then listen to see how you are doing.