Classroom Drama: Redirecting the Dominators


A participatory classroom discussion is one that gives every student an opportunity to briefly express his or her opinion or ideas without using too much time.  However, a dominating student takes a significant amount of time to express ideas, either by talking too much or by taking forever to express just one idea.

As a teacher, you must be able to regulate the conversation of a dominator if you want to move on to the next idea of assignment.  Some dominators, if left unchecked, will use the entire period trying to get their point across.

Effective Actions to Take

Temporarily ignore the raised hands of the dominator and call on others to express their ideas about a topic.  You are not being harsh.  Instead, you are hoping that the dominator gets the idea that others must have an opportunity to speak as well.

If the student keeps blurting out the answer, give him or her look of disagreement before he completes his sentence.  Hopefully, the message will be sent.

Impose a one of two-minute time limit on all students.  Answers should be short and sweet, yet informative and serious.

Interrupt the student if he or she continues to drag one idea into another. What a time waster!  Instead of just sitting there hoping the student will soon finish,  start asking other students for their opinion on the topic.

Appoint a student to measure time so that a dominator or any other student will under pressure to give a brief message.  Hopefully, the student will feel the need to finish his statement in an appropriate timeframe.

Control the discussion by asking a question and having students to raise their hands quickly.  Pick the ones who haven’t had a chance to speak.  In this way, you can control the time in which each student speaks.  In addition, every student will have a chance to speak.

The Life of the Party

The dominators simply want to be the life of the party.  Being in the spotlight as long as possible makes them feel very special.  However, they need to understand the honor that comes from sharing the stage with others, namely, their fellow classmates.

Dominators can quickly turn other students against them.  You must prevent this from happening by setting rules for discussion time on day one.  The respect for sharing must be a hot button that you push throughout any classroom discussion.

What do you think?


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substitute teachers

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