Paired talk, when done well, is one of the most effective techniques a teacher can use. It provides an opportunity for children to try out ideas, and to orally rehearse, whilst avoiding the “rabbit in the headlights” moment of being asked to speak when unprepared. It immediately changes the ratio of teacher talk to pupil talk.
But done badly, it leaves children feeling left out, it is unfocussed, it wastes learning time.
In my Talk Audits over the past year I have observed over 80 classrooms and I have concluded that this is something a lot of teachers could do better. In one class during a paired talk exercise, I counted six children not talking.
I think teachers are so busy ‘getting on with the learning’ that they are missing the basics of paired talk – that pupils are actually paired, and actually talking. Simply checking and addressing these basics will have a huge impact.