[by Roger Loxley – follow up to last week’s post]
There are two other aspects of Lemov’s book that I’d like to mention.
The first is the way in which he reinforces what we already know about growth mindset by exemplifying the “culture of error” that he see in the best classrooms. We already know that “the power of yet” is something that we need to encourage in our students and promoting a culture of error in the classroom allows students to make mistakes safely, learn from them and really develop a willingness to try and try again until they get it right and develop mastery of the subject.
So, a few examples of what the books suggests are good things to do:
- Teachers plan for errors – expect errors and how you’d approach them when they are made by students. Anticipate the likely errors when planning and plan your response.
- Think of “wrong” as a first step to getting it right.
- Expect error – look for different answers not just the right one.
- Withhold the answer – discuss all answers before the reveal.
- Manage the tell – don’t give the game away by facial or verbal expressions.
- Praise risk taking – “who will be bold enough to offer a view?”
Finally, the part of the book I initially went to for a reminder. How to promote discussion in the classroom. It’s what I’m working on with Biology colleagues as part of our collaboration work. I also did some work on this as part of my MEd many years ago.
We know that much classroom dialogue goes through the teacher. We ask a question, a student responds and we confirm whether or not the answer is right. This is fine but it isn’t discussion (although sometimes we think it is) and students tend to try and focus all their answers through the teacher because they are so used to seeking affirmation from the teacher that their response is correct.
But good discussion is much more than this and it’s what I really want to try and encourage my classes to do. Lemov gives a good definition of discussion, “a mutual endeavour by a group of people to develop, refine, or contextualise an idea or set of ideas”.
He also offers a series of suggestions as to how to promote discussion in the classroom. Getting students to listen properly to others’ responses and then build on that by making a contribution of their own. Then bouncing this to other students to get them to do the same. Perhaps with a conflicting view or example that contradicts a proposed idea. But always with a view to adding to and building on the idea to create something better as an outcome.
I’m keen to see if I can get this happening more in my classroom because it means that students become more engaged (all engaged in proper discussion – perhaps in pairs to start with before moving on to larger groups and whole class). But also because the technology around OneDrive means that they can work together to collaborate in producing a written piece that lots of people have contributed to, rather than just one person writing.
This will take time, but it’s a start and I’m glad that Lemov has given me a few pointers that I can work with. I would encourage everyone to dip into the book, it’s worth a read.