As I look around my classroom full of students, I often find myself wondering what exactly is going on in their heads. I explain to the students, I read to them, I ask them to read, I ask them to write, I ask them to learn, but I have no idea what my students’ self-talk sound like. I want to know. I need to know. Most important to me, I ask my students to think. I am constantly creating formative assessments, both paper and experiential. I may be able to know if they know what I want them to know, but I don’t know if they are truly thinking. I need to know.
I believe as teachers, we get caught up in having our students complete tasks that lead to learning all of the time. These end up being effective and help to create student growth. I also believe that if thinking were at the core of what my students were doing, the level of growth would be amazing.
So…the magic questions. The questions that might create magic if it can be answered and turned into action in a manner that is meaningful. How can I know what my students are thinking and how they are thinking? As well, how can I help my students to become better thinkers and help them to see value in thought?
To begin to answer my own questions, I will start with the idea of helping my students to know what thinking is. What it looks like. Why we do it and how we get better at it.
My challenge to myself for the remainder of this school year is to simply and authentically ask my students to try to explain their thinking. I want them to become more cognizant of what and how they think during my class. Awareness sounds like a foundational place to begin.
My goal for next year is to create an environment in my classes that talking about our thinking is a common practice and a natural part of the flow of class.