- I learn more about each student as a person.
- I learn more about each student as a learner.
- I correct important misconceptions.
- I give valuable feedback to students about their learning.
- I receive valuable feedback from students about my teaching.
- I improve my relationships with the people whom I am privileged to teach.
- My reasons for loving teaching are reaffirmed.
Like Tyler, I’m involved in one-on-one conversations at the moment too…
I’m currently supporting our Year 6 students in the process of the PYP exhibition unit. They are exploring ways to take action to right inequity. The central idea is ‘Developing an awareness and understanding of inequity empowers us to act’. Within this broad conceptual understanding, students follow their areas of interest and decide on their own individual and small group inquiries.
In the early stages, the teachers engage in many one-on-one conversations with students to ensure they have found something to explore that really matters to them, to get them to articulate their personal connections with their inquiries and to hear them explain why they care.
This round of conversations is the beginning of many that will take place throughout the inquiry. The more they practise, the better students become at articulating their learning, till the final exhibition where they will share their learning with their parents and the public.
Teachers and learners find these conversations both challenging and rewarding.
Some students can readily identify what bothers them, what they care about and, with minimal probing, dig deeper and express their personal connections. Others take longer. Some students spend time exploring one issue, only to decide they are not sufficiently engaged and would like to change direction. Some think they have a particular interest but are unable to find a meaningful way into it. Some are interested in so many things, they find it hard to choose a focus. And in one particularly challenging conversation last week, I talked with a (bright) student who hasn’t (yet) engaged with anything at all. Our job is to help him find something he cares about to inquire into, no matter how long it takes.
I agree with Tyler’s thoughts on the value of individual conversations for the teacher.
Here’s what I see as the value for the learner…
- She has an opportunity to express her thinking aloud in a non threatening context.
- She processes her thinking through having to find the words to articulate it to someone else.
- She can ask questions, seek clarification and feel supported while making her thinking visible.
- She goes beyond the content and gains awareness of herself as a learner.
- She has her thinking challenged, in a positive way, through gentle questioning and probing.
But that’s my perspective. I’ll ask some of the students this week and find out how they see it!