Stir Up the World

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jul 27 2011

poll: do you use SLANT?

TFA is big on Teach Like a Champion.  It’s a really good book, and I plan to implement some of its tenets in my own classroom.

One of the most popular concepts in the book is using the acronym SLANT for active listening position:

Sit up


Ask and answer questions

Nod your head

Track the speaker

I’m making posters for my classroom right now, and I’m wondering if I want to use SLANT in my classroom or not.

My question for all of you teachers out there:  do you use SLANT in your classroom?  If so, would you recommend it for a first-year teacher?


10 Responses

  1. G

    I taught 2nd grade and I didn’t use it my first year. However, I may integrate parts of it into my class rules. I am going to use Whole Brain Teaching this year and some of the elements of SLANT are part of the class rules in WBT. Since you’re teaching middle school, SLANT seems like a good idea right from day 1…good luck!!

  2. Bradley


    I taught middle school in the Delta and tried using SLANT my second year. What I found is that it was a little stiff for them, and made it difficult to connect with my students right out of the gate. But I think that was mostly because they’d never had so much structure before and it kind of threw them off. If you feel like you can be consistent with it and offer lots of incentives for doing it well, narrating their gorgeous SLANTing on a regular basis and making it a constant part of your classroom, then I say go for it. Anything you do, do with confidence and it’ll be a success.

    Good luck!!

  3. Karen Osinski

    I haven’t personally used it (I am still in school) but I have seen it used. If you use it the first day, consistently enforce it and teach it in slow steps by modeling you have a great chance of making it a success. Also, I have used whole brain teaching in my ‘student teaching’ and the kids loved it. Everyone got so much more involved in the lesson and their memory recall was excellent. If you haven’t seen this yet; youtube ‘Whole Brain Teaching’. Good luck!

  4. Wess

    How about FOCUS?

    Face forward
    Open Ears
    Closed Mouth
    Under Feet
    Sit Up

  5. K.F

    I can understand the attractiveness of SLANT to a new teacher that has a limited repertoire of classroom management strategies in their toolkit, but overall I stand firm in my belief that it is too militaristic, dehumanizing and ultimately perpetuates a power dynamic in which “at-risk” students are socialized (and rewarded) for following rigid rules that would not fly in middle class or predominately white schools.

    I encourage teachers to observe as many effective teachers as possible in all types of schools, especially high performing ones, i.e. public, charter and independent. Glean best practices from highly effective colleagues and always ask yourself — would I be okay if my child was treated in this way (or if I was treated in this way)? If you pause too long or your response is “no” — it’s time to reassess your practice.

    I’ve read Teach Like a Champion and other practices resonate, e.g. wait time, 100% etc.

    –TFA Alumna

  6. Luanne A.

    I’m a student teacher, reading thru your blog for the first time. Some input: my 14 yr old daughter was taught “SLANT” at a camp this summer (SuperCamp, google it!). They suggested the kids experiment with it- try SLANT in one class and not in another. She was completely amazed by the response from her teachers she SLANTed with– for a teenager to have a positive outcome is pretty great! Maybe you can suggest the same for your kids. As a “rigid rule”, I agree with K.F. that it might not fly.

  7. I don’t think I could SLANT for 8 hours myself.

    I don’t like it because I prefer to be able to read the kids’ body language as a form of feedback.

  8. Julie

    I’m an elementary teacher. I don’t use SLANT, but I plan to start using it. What a great way to teach and help students remember good listening strategies. Definitely doesn’t sound military to me. Hopefully little ones or children of any age aren’t SLANTing all day. What teacher could actually talk that long any way? An elementary classroom should be active, but there are times the children should be good listeners. It’s kind of like using an anchor chart for listening skills and it’s easy to remember. I encourage you to use it.

  9. Jen G

    I have used SLANT in my third grade classroom for 3 years now and it does not have to be rigid unless you as a professional feel that is best for your students. I teach it at the beginning of the year and have posters that I hang up as a reminder as needed. I’ve found that once I teach it, most of my students use it because we connect it to good listening skills (not all students are auditory so this brings in kinesthetic and visual cues). I like it because when a group of students or even one student needs a quick reminder without me taking time to interrupt a lesson, all I have to do is say the word and everyone snaps back into focus. Problems I’ve had with it more often than not encompass the need to work with individuals who believe that it only means to snap to, not actually pay attention and engage the lesson/speakers. On a side note, I love that T is track the speaker because it validates the belief that I’m not the only teacher in a classroom of learners, we learn as much from our peers as we do through the teacher.

  10. S. A.

    I used a variation of SLANT in my high school classroom after an administrator suggested it during an evaluation. My students were not unruly, but neither was I their main focus. I used S for silence and we discussed/brainstormed what silence meant (no tapping pencil, rustling papers, popping mouth, shuffling feet, whispering, etc.) Silence is not the same as being quiet. L is for listen ( cupped my ear). A is for actively making eye contact (all eyes on me who ever has the floor) and then tracking tracking the speaker around the classroom with their eyes. N is for nod if you understand. T is talk after you’ve raised your hand and are called upon. There was some resistance at first, with a couple of students asking me if I thought they were in first grade. I told them that if they acted like adults, and not first graders, we would not have to review it again and only those who were not actively and politely paying attention would be reminded. Afterwards, I always asked for “silence,” pointed to my ear and said “all eyes on either me or the student speaker.” An amazing thing happened. When a student was not actively listening, I’d either walk over and place a hand on the student’s shoulder or pointedly stare at the student. shaking my head. Immediately, other students would react with a verbal, “uh, oh,” “hey, man, pay attention,” “you’re in trouble,” “grow up,” “be nice,” or some other comment. I’d put my hand up, smile and say, “thank you,” and class would continue. They demanded and enjoyed respect from each other as well as me. It altered the dynamics of my classroom and grades went up.

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"If one desires to 'stir up the world,' it is easy to be impatient with work for the sake of work. Yet no story's end can forsake its beginning and its middle." -Joshua Wolf Shank on Abraham Lincoln