What types of conversations do your students have in the classroom?
Today I am thinking about verbal conversations, although there are several types of conversations students may have in the classroom.
This is an area I have focused on this year. Throughout the school year, I have continually thought about how I can encourage students to have conversations about what they are thinking, reading, writing, noticing, etc. I teach students to have conversations with their classmates in partnerships, in small groups, and in whole-class discussions. I don’t want to be the facilitator in the conversations, but I want to teach kids how to have their own conversations independently.
Today my class and I had a forty-five minute whole-class conversation about class rules, behaviors, and consequences. We sat in a big circle so that everyone could see each other. When we have conversations in the “real world”, it is important when we are talking to someone that we are able to see the person involved in the conversation. This is something I teach my students.
Also, when you have a conversation you don’t raise your hand to contribute, right? At this point in the year, I hope students understand each person’s words have value, and we must be respectful and kind to one another. So, today I asked students to put their hands down and simply talk when they had something to say. I reminded students not to talk over each other and not to interrupt each other.
It was amazing! We had a great conversation. We were able to make decisions together about additional classroom rules we need to focus on in our community of learners and new consequences for not following the classroom rules. It was interesting to watch nine- and ten-year olds talk about both sides of several issues we were having in the classroom. They were open to each other’s ideas, and they wanted to help each other make good choices and learn. I took notes the whole time to document the class’s thinking and to show them I valued what they were contributing to the conversation.
Today I will communicate our new class rules and consequences to each child’s parents so that they can be on board. But more than that, I am proud of each student. Not every student contributed to the conversation, some students talked more than others, but each child listened and each child was on board with our decisions.
These types of conversations can not be assessed or measured by the standardized tests we administer, but I hope that these are the skills they will remember when they are older. I hope these are the skills they will use during a meeting with their boss and colleagues. After all, aren’t these the skills that they will need to be college and career ready?