Monday, January 16, 2017

Beyond 'Yep' and 'Nope': How To Have Richer Conversations with Our Students

“Anyone have questions?” Crickets.
“You doing okay?” Yep.
“You need help at all?” I’m confused. “Can you tell me what’s confusing?”   Everything.

Let’s be real. There are days when getting a root canal seems easier than getting your students to talk about where they are in the learning process. Teacher as guide on the side and facilitator of learning can seem quite daunting when conversations feel one-sided.  It’s hard to guide without the ability to tease out more from our students about their learning.

As we explore what personalization and customization of learning can look like in today’s schools, it seems we must consider this question: How can more impactful one-on-one conversations yield even greater learning?  While we can shift structures and create more opportunities for students to explore passions and make choices in the learning process, it seems we can’t truly personalize without getting really darn good at making it personal with one-on-one conversations that are deep and tailored to the needs of the learner. We have to figure out how to get our learners beyond the crickets and one-word answers, but this can be easier said than done.

Intrigued with how I might have more impactful one-on-one conversations, I started researching and came upon a fantastic article titled “Conferring: The Essential Teaching Act.”  Author Katie Wood Ray outlines 4 steps to more powerful conversations with our students. Though Ray’s context is about writing conferences, I’m finding these 4 steps to be practical and powerful no matter the context of learning.

I’ve created a simple guide to Wood Ray’s steps and hope you find it useful to make your personal conversations with students even richer!

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