TECHNIQUE #47: SLANT
TECHNIQUE # 47: SLANT, or in some classrooms known as (STAR), is an acronym that holds students accountable for their posture, listening, speaking, and eye contact skills. The premise is that students should be consistently reminded of their physical behaviors in the classroom, in doing so, the teacher is helping them to “concentrate, focus, and learn…Teach students key baseline behaviors for learning, such as sitting up in class and tracking the speaker, by using a memorable acronym…”,(p.360)¹. In almost every Uncommon Schools/TLAC® video footage I’ve viewed, the acronym SLANT is posted, in a very visible place at the front of classrooms. It is, one of the ‘hallmark’ techniques from the Teach Like a Champion¹ school of thought. Here is a classroom poster version of SLANT:
Basically, these are simple physical reminders of appropriate personal and group accountability. Teachers are encouraged to introduce SLANT at the beginning of the school year or new term; more importantly, to refer students, on a daily basis, to the practice of SLANT consistently, in order to maximize students’ abilities to pay attention and actively learn and participate.
Here’s a great video montage of how the SLANT acronym is put in place:
According to the Professional Learning Board, LLC, in a series of blog posts and discussion forums, ‘What is SLANT Strategy and How does it Improve Student Achievement?’; it does so by “…creating a behavior incorporating the conscious use of positive body language.”. Additionally, it establishes preventative measures against slouching, fidgeting (?!), doodling, etc. (https://k12teacherstaffdevelopment.com/tlb/what-is-the-slant-strategy-and-how-does-it-improve-student-achievement/).
Obviously, the students in the video clip above are acculturated to the SLANT acronym and all that it represents in their classroom. SLANT originated in KIPP schools. STAR (the new 2.0 TLAC® version), hasn’t quite caught on yet. STAR : Sit up, Track the Speaker, Ask and answer questions like scholar, Respect those around you. Apparently, the ‘N‘ for Nod your head in SLANT was Not necessary, and there is always a need to emphasize Respect in the classroom; Aretha Franklin would agree. The cues and gestures that the teachers demonstrate in the video clip above are professional and effective. In addition to having a SLANT visual aid present in the classroom, here are some suggested statements to remind students of the expected behaviors:
- “Move into SLANT”
- “Show me SLANT”
- “Check your SLANT”
The acronym is terribly popular in behavior management strategies in classrooms everywhere, not just in Uncommon Schools. I’d never heard of the KIPP Schools, where this behavioral strategy originated, AND fell into a mine field of online research vis a vis KIPP school philosophy. The criticism concerning the KIPP school philosophy, not necessarily directly related to SLANT is that students are exposed to extremely long school days, the memorization of empowerment/learning slogans; that this methodology,”physiologically sterilizes and behaviorally programs the children of the urban defectives”. ‘Why Students call KIPP the Kids In Prison Program‘, Schools Matter, Friday, 3/23/2012, Web, http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2012/03/why-students-call-kipp-kids-in-prison.html
The criticism of charter, independent schools in urban districts runs the gamut of pedagogical scrutiny. TLAC® techniques are often disparaged and denounced as being to regimental, un-caring or un-feeling, “teaching to the test”, “no-excuses”; it goes on and on. Certainly there has been a definite movement away from parochial or let’s say, military school methodology over the past four decades; but I do believe that a second look at or a return to direct instruction and high behavioral expectations in the classroom is a positive foot forward in education. I believe the demographic that few are willing to point out in New England concerning these criticisms is the difference between urban and rural schools. In moderately rural settings, I’ve worked in a wide variety of public, private and independent institutions, I find that the behavior of students in today’s public classrooms, (at times), to be completely inappropriate, unacceptable, and am grateful to have the resources and training to work in these situations. TLAC® strategies have been extremely assistive, productive and effective. That’s my SLANT on this issue. End personal rant; now I’ll sit up straight, track you, nod and listen attentively.