Celebrate: The “I’ve got it” feeling

My week has been so full, it’s no wonder I spent yesterday staring at out the window, catching my breath.

This week, Monday through Thursday I was with my fourth-grade colleagues at UCLA in a Math Professional Development. For those of you who huddle in the language arts camp, and if you know what takes to get to UCLA by 8 am, you may be wondering, why is this a celebration.

405-north bound to UCLA by Mike Owens

All of that perceived and possible torture was mitigated by a daily dose of learning with Megan Franke and committed teachers. I heard Franke speak last spring so when I saw she was teaching a small group on Cognitive Guided Instruction or CGI, I jumped at the chance.

I was not disappointed. By the end of the week, my notebook is filled with practices and tools to take to my classroom; my heart was full of the kind of research-based, constructivist pedagogy that brings me to teaching.  Balancing teaching strategies with student thinking makes for excellent instruction no matter the subject matter.

The honoring of student understanding, not only meeting students where they are but allowing for equal access across the day, is why I teach.  This can be done with teacher moves that push, pull and press students toward their next step allow learning that will stick.  This week we talked how this goes in math.  Do you see connections to moves you take in the language arts classroom?

When a teacher pushes, they ask a student to take something they did and do a little more. It’s a nudge that says, wow look what you did, how about taking that, that thing you did, and try this.

Teachers pull student thinking with tell-me-more queries. How-did-you-do-that questions ask students to tell the details of their thinking and by doing that we (teachers and students) notice more about what they did.

Pressing student thinking testing their ideas. A teacher might say, what you did right there, that idea, would you ask yourself, is this true for all situations, or only this one? Testing an idea is analytical thinking at its best.

Reading and writing teacher friends, isn’t this what we do every day?

This week I realized why I love school and teaching. Pushing, pulling and pressing our thinking leads to the “I’ve got it!” feeling. And that makes you want more.

Thank you, Ruth, for hosting celebrations on every week. Find more here.