One question from our student survey that generated very specific and (I think) helpful responses was: What is a very common teacher practice that occurs all the time in class but just does not work for you? Here is a representative sample of the responses:

      • Taking notes of the projector and it doesn’t work because it doesn’t help me to understand and take it in if I am just mindlessly writing down notes
      • Reading to me does not work for me.
      • just taking notes and listening to lectures. It always makes me tire and uninterested. I just can never fully focus
      • Taking notes.
      • Lecturing, it’s boring for the students and most people tend to zone out and not pay attention anyways.
      • When the teacher tells us something and then expects us to know how to do it without example problems and such and it doesn’t work because we haven’t learned how to do it yet so we dont know how to go about the problem
      • reading from books or articles
      • “busy work!” In spanish we read sections out of our book that do not help me learn. The book does not help prepare us for tests or finals and it makes the teacher seem lazy for not preparing anything better for us.
      • Repetative homework.  More of the Same (MOTS).  Teachers feel the need to assign very similar homework over and over again.  This may help some students, however, for me, MOTS is just monotonous busy-work.  It is literally just more of the same…
      • I don’t like it when a teacher just talks all period without some kind of visual or anything. It’s very boring and I fall asleep all the time.
      • Homework rarely helps me LEARN the material
      • copying notes and not discussing their value.
      • Long lectures do not work. Teachers who give them usually go off on too many tangents and lose sight of the topic. It’s also hard to pay attention.
      • working alone kind of makes me feel like I dont have a reason to do the work. If  I need help I want to be able to ask  a student. I fell shy asking my teachers questions because  I think that my question ois stupid and i dont want her to think im stupid. So  I keep it to myself at most times.
      • powerpoints and reading out of the textbook
      • taking notes from powerpoints with no disscussion
      • reading from the text book alone
      • Making us work on our own with no help from peers.
      • Working on our own
      • Constant lecturing, and boring powerpoints everyday.
      • making me talk to the person next to me about what were learning
      • when the teacher explains but doesn’t give any example.
      • Taking notes. Usually I’m too busy trying to keep up with writing notes to actually pay attention to the notes and what the teacher is teaching.
      • My teacher think constant group work is helpful or stupid worksheet and journals but they’re not. I hate them and I never learn anything.
      • Listening to notes doesnt really work, as it is boring and repitititive.
      • I hate it when the teachers ask you questions over the material that he/she hasn’t gone over yet. They make some of us students feel dumb.
      • taking notes i never look at them ever
      • I guess I don’t really like working in groups.
      • taking notes every day
      • I don’t learn well from copying down the powerpoints because I miss the lecture then.
      • the practice of just sitting and taking notes.
      • Giving homework on things we haven’t learned yet.
      • some teachers just read and have us write notes off powerpoints.
      • Getting a packet, read the book and find anwsers then finish it for homework. Insted of understanding what it is
      • sometimes when the teacher gives worksheets
      • Watching movies because no one really pays attention.
      • When teachers focus only on certain students or “pick favorites”.
      • Handing me a paper and not explaining what to do.
      • reading out of a book because i lose attention span in like 3 min
      • Taking notes its really boring and students dont pay attention
      • Taking notes the whole class period
      • Teachers try to make us learn on our own, but sometimes we need desperate help.
      • just reading off the book and doing homework off the book.
      • I hate when there are no visuals. It makes everything harder.
      • When teachers just lecture and do the work for you, it doesn’t help me and it doesn’t keep me interested.
      • Peer-editing and peer-discussion REALLY doesn’t work because the students are not focused on the learning and don’t want to teach ourselves.  It is better for the teaching to be left with the teacher.
      • Group Discussions
      • Reading from the book all the time
      • The “Here’s a packet teach yourself then take a test on it” method.
      • Powerpoints. Too boring.
      • nearly every teacher hands out a packet for us to fill out but this isnt very helpful for me because filling in one word of a senctence doesnt help with learning the subject.
      • Games
      • Just copying notes off of a powerpoint.
      • just putting answers to the homework on the bored
      • Reading from the book and not talking about what we read. Sometimes, I dont understand what we read!
      • reading from the textbook
      • when they just keep on talking but they really don’t know what they are talking about.
      • having us take our own notes based on what we hear from lectures, It doesnt work because sometimes i miss important things and I’d rather be given a pre made notes sheet with the important information on it.
      • Teacher just sits at her desk writing under a camera that goes to the projector and its really boring.
      • Taking notes and doing worksheets.
      • annotation
      • When we a line of switch off.
      • When the teacher sits in front of the class and talks for the whole time. it doesnt work because there is very little interaction and gets dragging and boring.
      • Teachers often do not explain what the purpose of the activity is or how it will affect everyday life.
      • note taking
      • Constant worksheets. In Chem all we get are worksheets, then notes, worksheets then notes. The teacher hardly does anything. Then he’s pretty nasty to us when we ask questions. That doesnt work for me. And when teachers just move on and just presume that everyone understands what is going on.
      • I dont mind power points when there short but when the room is dark and they last the whole period i fall asleep and there boring
      • Anything computer-related. I’ve never understood why we spend so much time teaching the future leaders of America how to punch buttons and make flashy things appear on a screen. But I’m sure there’s a point.
      • they do the work and explain it to us once and expect us to do it on our own and get all the problems right and get 100% on the tests when they dont bother to teach it well.
      • Lectures do not work for me at all. I am a visual learner! Respect it! I think teachers should teach to every students learning ways such as auditory and visual learners.
      • Power Point videos and notes appear in almost every class.
      • I don’t enjoy sitting through the teacher doing lecture because i can’t visualize what they are saying and it gets boring to sit there and do nothing.
      • Lectures and student presentations because lectures are really boring and it’s really hard to learn from them and student presentations aren’t always accurate and they are rushed because we have a certain amout of time.
      • i dont like when the teacher just teaches what the book tells them to
      • just sitting in our desk and taking notes or reading our text books does not work for me because i will never really understand it unless i do it myself
      • Giving homework on things that aren’t fully explained. it doesn’t work because we can’t do the homework if we don’t know how.
      • lecturing, we barely get to talk about the topic while the teacher goes on and on about it while we get stuck
      • Yeah, moving to fast when learning a lesson. because i need a lot of time to know how to do t he assigment
      • Yes, in every class we take notes. It sometimes works if the teacher can explain the topic well, but if they cannot, the notes do not help.
      • Anything that involves another student giving a presentation of information that I’m supposed to learn is a waste of time for me. These types of presentations are often wrong or just boring.
      • Student Teaching most students aren’t dedicated, concerned, or interested enough to really contribute anything to the class
      • Like stated before, nearly every one of my teachers does the same method; Show new material, take notes, lecture, homework.
      • when we have to read a lot of chapters in books then the next day we have a test without discusing the stuff
      • taking notes from a power point
      • When we learn a new chapter a week before a test.
      • when th teacher will just give out a worksheet and exspects you to know what to do and whyen you ask for help they just say well read the directions(which arent always helpful)
      • The teacher for math teachers the same thing to me everytime.
      • When we peer edit, it doesn’t help me at all.
      • Teachers showing things but not explaining them.
      • Quizdoms and scantrons they quickly tell you your grade but you don’t get to see what topic you are having trouble with.
      • they will explain it in words without actually showing us what to do
      • Explains without showing.
      • Rubrics! All they do is tell you what the teacher wants, i need to know what they want it to look like.
      • When teachers talk at you and do not show examples well enough to understand.
      • Making us read aloud as a class is common and not helpful at all because no one speaks clearly or they go to slow.
      • In math, what happens is that the teachers know the objective so well, that they do it on the board, then ask if we get it. More explanation is needed.
      • Just giving us notes.
      • Simply lecturing doesn’t help me. I am not really an auditory learner, so when i have to listen to a teacher drone on, it just goes right through me. Visual things help me the most.
      • The practice that a lot of my teachers use is power points and then don’t really discuss anything about it, they just make you copy down whatever they created and then you’re finished. I can’t really learn about it when I have no background.
      • Taking notes out of the book. It doesn’t work for me because i need more explanation.
      • Going over homework for most of class
      • when the teacher talks about the subject instead of showing us.
      • Assigning boat loads of homework just for the sake of assigning homework.  We are already at school for 6-7 hours a day.  And we are always expected to excel at everything, but how can we do that if teachers just give us massive amounts of pointless homework?  Look, I love school, I am at the top of my class…but this current system is just messed up.  Nobody can do a great job at everything they do when they are expected to do everything so….perfectly.
      • Just simply when a teacher continues to write down notes on the board and the students spend the whole class time writing them down. We don’t learn anything this way, just some basic facts if that.
      • Assigning homework and then not explaining it. They expect a book to teach us and that is not realistic
      • giving homework on material that we haven’t gone over yet, then reviewing the
      • When teachers make us discuss our opinions about a topic. Our opinions don’t matter, just teach us what we need to know so we can move on. Class discussions can usually be fun, but not when it is “i think…”
      • Learning by ourselves. Because i need teachers to explain me stuff
      • Comparing students’ answers in front of the class is not a practice that works for me, especially if I am lower on the list. Comparison is not fair and doesn’t make me want succeed because I want to, but only because I want to do better than other students.
      • Most teachers in language classes give lists of words to learn. This doesn’t work for me because I haven’t used them so I don’t know them as well.
      • Something that dosent work for me is when the teacher does not leave the class clear on what and why he or she is teaching
      • A lot of the time, teachers will write something on the board and start explaining.  But as they’re explaining, I’m trying to write what’s on the board, so I don’t always catch all of the details they say.
      • Class debates and discussions are not helpful to me because they do not provide new information and usually get very off-topic.
      • Peer editing doesn’t work for me because it makes me feel like a weaker student when compared to my peers.

There is a clear overwhelming negative vote for spending large amounts of time taking notes as teachers talk. People: it’s NOT working; use the time more wisely. Corollary: as you can see there are endless complaints about boring and unhelpful Powerpoints. If you are going to lecture, use the TED talk model: no more than 17 minutes at a time, and self-assess your talk against basic criteria for engaging and effective talks: concise, clear, interesting spin. Better yet, think through the TED Commandments (which actually get delivered on stone tablets to speakers!):

But there were also “good” practices that do not work for many students. Many students complain that peer teaching and peer editing is a waste of time. That’s an important heads-up about ensuring that we are not just doing “pooled ignorance” but really learning from others. And a fair number of students complain that while class discussion is less boring than other approaches it is often ineffective and off topic, suggesting that we need to do a far better job explaining the purpose and norms of good discussion, and do a better job of facilitating discussions to culminate in some important take-aways highlighted by the teacher.

To read Student Voice, Part 6, click here.

PS: For student responses about what DOES work for them as learners, go to my earlier post.

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