Do You Have 21st-Century Skills to Help Your Students Succeed?
Do Your Students Have 21st-Century Skills to Think for Themselves?
The Power of the Socratic Classroom has the answers you are looking for—answers that will supply the strategies to show students how to succeed into the future. A future that has unknown products, unidentified jobs, and unanticipated challenges.
In Socratic Seminar, teachers shift to the role of facilitator, where they help their students develop the collaborative interpersonal skills, the critical and creative thinking skills, and the speaking and listening skills to face the upcoming challenges of the 21st century.
Charles Fischer has taught in public and private schools in a variety of settings, from rural Maine to inner city Atlanta. In the past 20 years, he has worked with a wide range of students from 4th grade to AP English and has been nominated for Teacher of the Year four times. He has his Master’s degree in Teaching & Learning from the University of Southern Maine, and received his B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing from Binghamton University. His latest book, The Power of the Socratic Classroom, has won four awards, including the NIEA Best Education Book. His first novel, Beyond Infinity, won a 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award bronze medal (YA fiction). His areas of expertise are Socratic Seminar, Active Listening, Inquiry, Teaching & Learning, and Critical & Creative Thinking. He is currently working on a book of poetry, a short story collection, and several novels.
A lot of teachers hesitate to try Socratic Seminar because of a few main reasons: they worry about losing control, they can't connect the seminar to the standards, or they feel they don't have the time.
To the first point about control, I would say that if you have established procedures and rapport with your students, then you will be fine. Just create a few additional expectations and the students will engage in the process. If you still fear losing control... well, who should be in control of their learning anyway?
To the second point, Socratic Seminar can always connect to speaking and listening standards!
To the third point about time, seminars are an amazing tool to review for tests, finalize written drafts, and otherwise synthesize learning. In terms of sharing and generating ideas, they are actually highly efficient and provide clues to the teacher such as checks for understanding.
The Power of the Socratic Classroom
If you’re not sure what your purpose is, but you know you want to try Socratic Seminars, then feel free to use them as isolated classes. This will allow you to try them without worrying about how they connect to the curriculum, where they should be placed in a scope and sequence, or even how to assess the students. Your time and energy can be geared toward transitioning toward various roles as a facilitator—such as questioner, clarifier, and coach—observing, listening, and reflecting to make the most out of the conversation. In other words, you have the opportunity to better practice being a “guide on the side,” rather than a “sage on the stage.”