S. is a creative and passionate teacher. Listening to her team planning, I was surprised that she dismissed the idea of her students using drama to practice second language skills. She was equally unenthusiastic about allowing a group of learners to apply their skills through tech tools, while she worked with those who needed more time and attention. It seems that she likes to have all the kids with her, preferably doing the same task, so that she is in control of the learning.
We had a great conversation today about her own two children. She told me that one catches on quickly and is a thinker, while the other is more of an artist, very creative and easily distracted. I commented that they obviously learn in different ways and asked what she thought would happen if they were in her class, where everyone is expected to learn in the same way at the same time. Something suddenly clicked into place and she was immediately open to exploring ways to change her practice!
We talked about scaffolding independent learning experiences. If she sets the structures in place, she can allow them more control of their learning and trust that they will manage what they need to do, without her constant involvement. We looked at the ‘gradual release of responsibility‘ model and, once again, related it to her own children. She’s a wonderful mother so she got the point right away and saw how she could apply it to her students.
At the end of our short conversation, she stood up and said “This is huge. Thank you. I’m going to start making changes.”
It seems she got something out of our interaction. So did I…
- A simple conversation can be a powerful path to creating change.
- Asking the right question can be the trigger that shifts thinking.
- Relating concepts to our personal lives facilitates understanding.
- Moving the focus from teaching to learning is the key to good practice.
- It’s important to check that our practice reflects what we believe about learning.
- Education reform happens one teacher at a time, one learner at a time…
Here’s my take on ‘gradual release of responsibility’: