We have had a day of “Creative New Undertakings” during a week of staff professional development at my school. This day is intended to be a day to work on a project, a prototype, a train of thought, or a plan related to learning and our practice. The choice of what this work entails is up to us.
I have spent this day thinking about one of my core beliefs about teaching, learning, and schooling; that learning and cognitive growth come from social interaction. I have been thinking of the popular quote from Vygotsky, which comes up for most of us in our teacher prep programs: “Children grow into the intellectual life around them.” This ‘intellectual life’ is, of course, a social life as well. I have another quote written in my notebook, I noted it during our school’s week-long Responsive Classroom training. “You are only as smart as yourself unless you ‘bounce’ your thinking off of others.” That really hits it for me.
The implications for me as a teacher are quite clear. I must facilitate a learning environment where the children are encouraged to be social and to grow into the intellectual life of a classroom where we share and speak about our learning. My work is to move the children’s ideas out of their heads and towards a listening, curious and thoughtful ear; an ear that will bounce the ideas back in a useful way.
My first step towards this, will be to step up the level of discourse during our “turn and talks”. I found this great tool at The Thinker Builder and I really like the simple format and helpful cues.