‘I used to think… Now I think‘ is one of the most powerful thinking tools (Visible Thinking routines). It allows you to grow, without having to have been wrong. It allows me to develop my ideas, change my practice, increase my understanding, deepen my thinking… and change my mind.
I used to think that the more tightly I kept control, the more efficiently time would be used in the classroom so that more learning could take place.
Now I think that the more I let go, the less time will be wasted on management, control, delivery and work… and the more time there will be for learning.
Here’s an example:
The class sits in a circle to discuss an interesting issue. students raise their hands when they have something to share or ask. The teacher ensures everyone has an opportunity to speak. He often rephrases what students say in order to clarify or validate contributions. Many students spend long periods of time listening passively (or not listening at all) while they wait for an opportunity to engage. the teacher spends a fair bit of time asking people to be quiet, pay attention, stop fiddling, raise their hands, not talk while someone else is talking…
The same discussion takes place in small groups and the teacher moves between groups, listening, occasionally asking a key question, listening, requesting clarification or justification, listening. Students practice effective communication by listening and speaking one at a time, but in a natural conversational style, without raising their hands. All the students are more actively involved in the conversation. They are not expected to share details with the whole class, although they might be asked to share only the most interesting or the most contentious point that was raised.
There are so many routines and procedures that happen in classrooms, just because that’s the way they have ‘always’ been done.
How often do kids stand in line waiting for their turn with the teacher?
How often does the whole class sit passively (or not!) while the teacher explains something half of the students already know?
How often does the teacher expect everyone to wait will she checks who’s done their homework?
Do you ever stop to think about how productively class time is being used for every student’s learning?
Are you ready to change something you do?