After a two plus year absence, this time I plan to have a clear data-driven focus. I hope to post a mini-action research project and see where it leads me. Recently, I have heard my supervisor at work talking about my rate of speech while teaching(in the form of “asking questions”). So, I decided to record my speech looking for two things: a) what is my rate of speech and another topic which I have always harbored a little bit of worry about: b) do I have any level of aggressiveness in my voice?
These days students are preparing for public speeches which constitutes approximately 30% of their total grade. In other words, i’m not doing too much lecturing. However, I do need to remind students about a few details and rules for smooth classroom functioning. Thus, while doing those little things I recorded my classroom for the first 3:20 seconds. I transcribed the relevant first 2:13. Here is the transcript:
Shh….shh…just a few things before I begin. Let me remind you (pause) today We are starting the 2nd round…the 2nd round of practice presentations, I am expecting a higher level of quality than the first round, that’s why we practice to get better, right? Now, There is the 2 minute rule. (pause) (Student interrupts who is late), Now, if you get up and ???? and your reading from the script, and I’m not hearing much enthusiasm in your voice, I’m not hearing much emphasis or gesture, I’m just going to tell you to sit down after two minutes and -4 daily participation points. Again, if you’ve made some preparations and taken the task seriously, then everything will be alight. And also, if you’re not presenting. Please, use your time wisely. You have a few options. Option #1, enjoy the wonderful presentations from your classmates, option #2 (pause) start memorizing your speech make little notes, just practice in your head for the presentation. Option 3, do nothing stare like a zombie, that okay, I’m not going to punish you are anything if you do that, the only big rule is during the actual presentations, 유진 is speaking presentations, uh, “don’t speak” if you do speak I’m going to take away points from you, daily participation points, now I’m not going to announce to you “희선 be quiet or I’m going to take away -2 points, I’m just kind of going to do it in secret and tell you at the end of class, so again, if you want to avoid that simply be quiet, other than that, I don’t think there is too much, as you know test dates and speaker order is up there (points to the board). Do become aware of it, Remember, I do believe, next Wednesday we are beginning the test, so we are one week away. So, please understand it is serious we need to be focused. Before I begin, the test, I need to check I need to check if you added gesture and (lingering) voice notes (2:13 seconds of speech)
Regarding issue (a):
There are approximately 340 words in this time. According to some internet searches (a very scholarly method), 150-200 wpm is considered a fast rate of speaking. Given that I am teaching ELLs that indicates a problem. Preliminary steps to improve this include: more conscious-pausing in my speech; b) clearly signal transitions (which I do somewhat with words like “option # 1” “option #2”), c) study models of quality public speakers.
Regarding issue (b):
I think there is a clear level of “authority” if not aggression in my voice. I can see several authoritarian tones and phrases, such as “Let me remind you;” “I am expecting;” “we practice to get better, right?;” “I’m just going to tell you to sit down after two minutes;” Do become aware of it;” to list a few.
On the positive side I believe much of this monologue was rather clear. Students had expectations clearly communicated to them. In the future I may want to add additional checking questions, to provide more interaction, and less of a one-way, dare I say “authoritarian feel” when I am delivering what is essentially procedural information to students.
Has any readers had similar challenges? How did you cope with them? ‘Til next time.