Category: Goal Setting

Our First Council Meeting

My first goal this year is to improve my teaching in the area of “Confer” (see previous post). Specifically,  I want to learn how to invite students to share their ideas and opinions.

One method that I am trying is to do more small group discussion-based activities. Students are more hesitant to share in a larger groups. Today, we did our first “council” meeting in mentoring class, where students were split into two smaller groups that each worked with one teacher. Last week, our MS counsellors shared a format for these meetings, and I was looking forward to trying it out.

Slow down, stop talking, start listeningThis is what I need to keep reminding myself. The council format really helped with slowing down, because only the person holding the item (a small stuffed toy) is allowed to speak. I still feel that I talked too much, because I was uncomfortable with how little the students were sharing, and I wanted to model that it’s OK to share.

Teachers are challenged to make curriculum relevant to students. Council promotes this by asking students to share their stories and experiences (paraphrase from the video below).

Overall, the first session we had was “OK”. Students shared a bit. I was pleased that a few usually quiet students opened up and shared some interesting stories. I think that the prompts that I choose are very important, and I will give more thought to this next time. My co-mentor, Steve, sounds like he had a bit more sharing in his council group, so I will ask him for some strategies to get students to open up more. I think I probably rushed the process, as this is an issue that I often have. I look forward to improving my skills at facilitating council over the coming weeks.

“We are so busy, life is so fast-paced. It’s rare that we get to sit down, face to face with another human being, fully focused on them”. – Judy Utvitch from the video below.

“We need to slow down and talk to each other more.” – Student from the video below

Goal #1: CONFER

My goal is to improve in the Tripod 7C area of “Confer” by better encouraging and valuing my students’ ideas and views in the science classroom and during mentoring time.

Message to Students: “I invite, welcome, and respect your ideas and feedback.”

I want to work primarily on inviting students to share their ideas and opinions.

  • I try to do this, but usually in the large classroom group.
  • There are not often a diverse group of volunteers. It’s always the same few students.
  • I feel that I rush the sharing of ideas because I always feel like we need to move on to the next agenda item in order to “fit everything in”

I plan to:

  • Do more small group discussion-based activities. Students are more hesitant to share in a larger groups
  • Promote respectful peer interactions so that students are encouraged to have more “academic courage”.
  • Invite students to share views on how best to structure classroom activities
  • Incorporate more peer feedback on assessments

Link to resources for classroom strategies for promoting good discussion.

Remind Myself:  Slow down, stop talking, start listening


Image credits:
Vanessa Brantley Newton.
Shiloh Sophia McCloud.

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