Less is More

CC licensed photo shared by Flickr user Austin Kleon
CC licensed photo shared by Flickr user Austin Kleon

One of my main goals as a teacher this school year has been to simplifiy everything I do in the classroom. To turn what is sometimes a turbulent sea into a calmer ocean. This isn’t one of those ‘you should too’ educational blogposts. In fact, you’ll probably disagree with a lot of my sentiments. I’ve been working on doing less of some things.

Less me talking. More students talking.

Less huge projects. More smaller ones.

Less crappy apps. More good apps.

Less web tools. More web environments.

Less presenting. More storytelling.

Less ‘move on’. More ‘try again’.

Less unpredictability. More structure.

Less blogging. More talking in class.

Less loud. More quiet.

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12 Comments

  1. Hey Royan… many thanks for a post that makes me stop and think. In a day and age when things are moving at the speed of light it is refreshing to hear you desire to slow things down, an opportunity to savour if you will. The only point I might care to argue is ‘less blogging’ (I love the more class talking) as I still feel that critical self reflection is not only crucial in synthesizing but still lacking in many classrooms. We have students journal, but the idea of risk-taking and posting our ideas for a larger audience to connect with is powerful.
    I am sure I will think about each point countless times today.
    Thanks for sharing:)

    1. Hey Jana,

      You know what’s happened? My students and I (and mostly me) have run into blog fatigue. I just got worn out by it. The explaining what it’s about, the justifying its purpose, the commenting, the reading all the posts. I basically got blog burn out.

      Thanks so much for the comment!

  2. I can completely hear that… it happens doesn’t it? Knowing what we need as learners is by far, the most critical skill to hone and celebrate.
    Here is a thought to muddle over… what if students began to take the leadership of commenting with posts? I know it is a time thing (the teaching and modelling of it) but I wonder if that would have been a way of preventing the burn out you experienced.
    I don’t know… I really don’t. I anxiously await my return to the classroom in the fall after four long years of being away in other roles (this year are full time learner) I will connect with you at this time next year and we can swap notes.

    Always a pleasure!

  3. I’m really intrigued….how do you manage more quiet with more classroom talking? Did you need a break from the messy classroom? I particularly like “less presentations, more storytelling”, because I think that’s a gift we need to give our students – to let them know that a really great presentation is storytelling, because it’s organic, not pre-fab.

    1. I’ve been going back to my roots a bit with good ol’ Think Pair Share type structured talk. So we talk a lot more this year about when it’s important to be quiet, and when it’s essential to talk.

  4. You are beginning to sound like the late Theodore Sizer. He made a compelling case for “less is more” in Horace’s Compromise. It is the core philosophy of what became the Coalition of Essential Schools. If only his successors had paid more attention to the insights in his classic work.

  5. So, I write this post knowing little about your classroom but being an admirer of what you’ve been speaking about. With that in mind, here are my reflective thoughts:
    – Less is more is always better.
    – I agree that getting students to see presentations not as a pre-fab, dreadful thing that they must memorize but rather an opportunity to tell (and better yet, show!!) what they’ve learned about a topic. In my class, rarely do I assign any specific topic but rather have students choose to do presentations on what they want to learn about, with a justified link to the subject at hand. An example would be in History, where as long as we are in the time period of say New France, they can present on an aspect of life in that period, as long as they can pitch it to me beforehand. This makes them accountable for their selection, but also encourages them to explore a topic like History, which can be dry, from a place of interest.
    – While I agree that blogging can wear thin, I think your class discussions can flow from blog posts. It is always interesting to see how students relate to their peers when it comes to their own writing. In my class, where there is a TON of apprehension about sharing their work, it also creates accountability and really brings home the idea that what you write is a) powerful and b) your words will/are/should be seen by others.
    – Lastly, the Try again piece is great. I try not to say let’s move on, but rather try again, and let’s work together or work with your buddy to solve it.

    Thanks again for your blog. It is an interesting read.

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