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Book: Micro-Reflection on Classroom Communication

Chapter: Balance Competing Demands

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.35455


The classroom is an environment replete with competing demands: the drive to promote participation, for example, may compete with the necessity of order, the mandate to evaluate, or the very essential goal of ensuring learning. Using a great variety of transcripts from actual classroom interaction that capture a full range of interactional details, this chapter takes the readers through a four-stage process of developing an ability to engage in micro-reflection on balancing competing demands. (1) What we do offers a guided reading to help teachers become sensitized to the multiple demands that plague classroom communication and to show how a delicate balance may be achieved via such practices as embedding conversation in IRF (Initiation-Response-Feedback), assimilating learner voice, alluding to the institutional frame, and finally, deploying a multimodal solution.(2) What we use leads the readers through a forensic examination of the specific features of talk, gesture, and environment drawn upon to enable the aforementioned practices. (3) What we notice offers a series of exercises that invite the readers to identify practices and their enabling features in another set of transcripts and in their own teaching. (4) What we practice provides a list of practical tasks for the readers to complete both during their teaching and as they consider recordings and observations of their own and others’ teaching with a focus on the practices and enabling features that balance competing demands.

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