New year. New students. Changed land in Bangladesh. Lots of security. WordPress is blocked so I’m in Thailand typing.
We are off to a smoother start in the classroom, and at times I have inklings that this could be one of my favorite classes ever. However, I have a burning question: How do I encourage all students to be inquirers?
This year I’m starting off with a few really strong, active inquirers. Last year I started with none so that was a different challenge altogether. We have a lot of inconsistent teaching at our school (especially in regards to inquiry) and a controlled culture and so I’ve noticed that coming into 5th grade, students need a lot of encouragement to actively participate and take responsibility for their learning.
What I’m noticing this year is that now the strong few are taking over the rest of them. They ask the questions; they control the learning. They move things forward. I can see that with one of them, at least, this has been par for the course for at least the last several years.
As a result the students who have been with those strong ones have sat back and let things flow. Most of the students at our school have been together since early years. Patterns develop and things move along and suddenly they are in 5th grade and have never taken charge of their own learning.
At the beginning of the year when I started asking questions I noticed this. I quickly got them into learning partners, always do think, pair, share. I draw names randomly with sticks. It’s helping some.
But I’m still wondering how to bring them out more. One of the strong ones, a girl, has quickly caught on that I’m not going to call on her much of the time. She’s relieved when finally her stick is drawn. She has good ideas and needs challenge. I don’t want to hurt her in the process of bringing out the others.
So what to do? In looking back at teaching I’ve realized I’ve always had some strong ones that often drive discussion. However the difference between those few and the rest of the class wasn’t as stark as this year. Most of my kids are not used to thinking for themselves, taking control of themselves. They have maids, drivers, and they’ve had a lot of direct instruction. Now I’m noticing that they have had others students to take care of them too.
I want all of my students to take responsibility for their learning and to actively engage in it. How do I encourage all of them and still honor the king and queen bees? I’m inquiring and would love to hear your thoughts.