Saturday, May 25, 2019

Kim Frencken: Why I hate callbacks

Did I mention that I hate callbacks? Well, just in case I didn't, I hate callbacks. They make work for some of you, but personally I feel like I'm talking to myself (and in most cases I am since kids are only repeating a rote response).

 I know that this is a hot educational trend. I know teachers that insist they are the best thing to happen to education since the Stone Age. I know they are cute and they are fun. But still... I hate them. And here's why.

Callbacks do not identify a child as an individual. They are generic. Students are not called by name. They are now called Class. The old tricks that worked, like proximity or eye contact, identified an individual. 

 Callbacks replace names with labels and rhythmic patterns. A number one priority for any teacher is to develop a relationship with her students. That's when a class ceases to be just a class. They become her kids. 

 Developing relationships starts with a name. Then it builds on knowing the person with that name. A child is no longer only a member of the group. They are an individual that matters.

Using names encourages children to participate. Asking a class, "do we have anyone that would like to share?" will get a different response than asking an individual to share their awesome story about dinosaurs. A child is a person that is special and has something special to share. They are not a pronoun.

Callbacks take away a student's responsibility. It is not the student's responsibility to do what the teacher is asking, it is the teacher's responsibility to first get the student's attention. I think teachers have enough responsibility without having to clap and chant our way into our students' focus. 

 If I am teaching a lesson, why should I stop periodically and snap, clap, snap in order to refocus the class. Because kids are not being asked to focus. They are being asked to mimic a response. Kids should be allowed to make choices - good or bad - and learn from them. Kids are not puppets.

Finally, I think callbacks are conditioning. Training children to respond to a key word or sound. How many parents or businesses use callbacks to get the attention of their child or employee? I can't think of any. 

If my parents had used callbacks, I would have let my responsible sister do what they were asking. Why should I be bothered beyond a simple response? 

On the other hand, when I heard my name called, I knew mom meant me. Not my sister or some other kid. Me. And I knew that I had to respond. It was personal. Today, kids think that you have to use callbacks if you want them to listen, complete a task, or line up. Don't believe me? Go into a classroom that depends on callbacks and try getting their attention with a song and dance. At some point, they may even tell you that you have to use callbacks if you want them to listen. Truth. This is either a case of callbacks misused or callbacks gone wild.

Callbacks should not be a classroom management system, but rather a support used rarely. If you develop relationships with your kids, you won't need to clap and dance around the room. Your kids will listen out of respect (the other "R" word).

(For more of Kim Frencken's writing, check out her blog, Chocolate For the Teacher.)


Anonymous said...

What is a callback?

Anonymous said...

Glad someone asked. I don't know either.

Anonymous said...

When the teacher says something like: Spongebob
And the students respond with: Squarepants
Teacher: Class
Students: Yes
Then they are all supposed to stop and see what the teacher is going to direct them to do.
It gets the classes attention all at once. There are many different ones and they are kind of fun.

I disagree that there is no place for callbacks. I think they are a good way to get the attention of students in a fun way.
I agree that you should be making relationships with your students. Callbacks aren't intended to be used when one student isn't attending to the task at hand, they're used to address the class as a whole. If one student needs to be redirected, that calls for other strategies.

Anonymous said...