Seven alternatives to raising the finger

“It could be looser,” says Ellen Emonds, former teacher of the year and now working as a teacher counselor. He did away with the finger at the time. Because it puts kids on hold. Because it is often the same students who get their turn. And because it provides too little information about the extent to which the instruction has landed with the entire group. Emonds gives seven tips to make the finger less prominent.



  1. You change together

    Do you want to stop the finger? Explain why and ask students what they think about it. “With such a change it is important that you ask them what it takes,” says Emonds. "Children know that." If there are students who don't want the change, find out what makes them afraid. If they are afraid that they will not get their turn, look together how you can prevent this. "It is important that you consider students as partners."

  2. Trust makes it possible

    Think with your class about what suits the class and what you should take into account. Insecure students may fear that they are lacking in dominance. A system of erase signs prevents them from being heard. Emonds: “But also have confidence in yourself. You must feel that you can do this. If you are unsure about this, find out whether there is a way that makes you feel good or leave it as it is. ”

  3. Change step by step

    Abolition is a change that you decide as a team. Agree to implement this change in steps, for example first only in math lessons or first by giving random turns. After that you can introduce erase boards. That way you can offer the new method in a good way.

  4. This is how the erase board works

    Make sure that each student has a erase board and a marker with erasable ink. The children write the answers to your classroom questions on the board. After some thinking time they hold up their plates. Did less than 80 percent understand? Then an additional example is needed before they start working independently. Differentiate to keep everyone involved. You can ask stronger students a more difficult variant of a question.

  5. Start the turntable

    By giving random turns, you prevent the same students from speaking. You also get a better picture of whether everyone understands your explanation. It is important that they know that everyone has an equal chance to get a turn. For example, because you use a turntable containing cards, balls or ice cream sticks with the names on it. You ask the whole class the question and give time to think. Then you draw a name. Names used are immediately returned to the tray.

  6. Reflect

    From time to time, write down how things are going, what experiences you have. That also helps to explain to parents what you are doing. You can tell how you notice that some students come into their own or that some only dare to talk if you give them permission to do so, and that you think they should develop a little more self-confidence in this.

  7. Sometimes the finger is allowed

    Of course, there are times when you cannot escape your finger. Sometimes you want to be able to ask the group if there are any uncertainties. Or do you want to know if there are children who want an extended instruction. “What you have to do is cut your finger as a protocol,” says Emonds. “If you keep insisting that students should raise their finger first and exclude them by expelling them, you are giving the protocol priority over the development of a child. That can also be done differently. Really, it can be looser. ”