1. Help students productively struggle. I tend to rush in with too much scaffolding when my students start to struggle. As a result, my students learn that if they struggle and are vocal about their confusion, the teacher will tell them what to do, and end up with two or three completely dependent groups that don’t learn anything or won’t do anything unless I am standing right next to them telling them exactly what to do for the whole year.
Most of this enabling stems from classroom management fears. I don’t know how to give my students just enough information or direct their thinking in just the right way that they can stay engaged but still have to think. Per Principles to Action, this year I want to try the following
- Anticipate challenges and misconceptions and how I would help a student productively struggle with that particular misconception or challenge. For example, what questions would I ask? background info would I remind them of? would I gather them all back together and have them list two things they know and one thing they don’t know then elicit ideas for how to find what we don’t know? circle the sage? change problem to easier numbers to better understand process?
- During instruction:
- praise students for their effort persevering through a challenge
- become more comfortable with being spontaneous/thinking on the fly. I need to have my list of ideas from above and be okay with trying something on the fly in response to my students level of struggle. It might not work at first, keep trying.
- don’t take over student thinking just to avoid classroom management issues. If a group isn’t engaging in a problem, over-scaffolding won’t help. Encourage them to struggle, use hints, check on them frequently, but don’t take over the thinking for them.
3. Reflect on student challenges/misconceptions and what worked/didn’t work in helping them struggle. Don’t necessarily equate success with “everyone got the right answer and perfectly understands the objective.” Look more for that productive struggle–were students engaged, did they persist despite confusion, were they having mathematical discussions?
2. More consistent use of call and responses
3. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast, aka don’t be in such a hurry with my content at the beginning of the year. Take time to teach routines, build community, and get to know students.