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.
Many people use the term "rules" to apply to their classroom expectations. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, but it is worth noting that the term is teacher-oriented and top-down. If we want to get in the spirit of a Socratic Classroom, then we would want to make these "norms" or even "agreements."
One teacher I worked with recently had a great term as well. He used "hopes" in his first set of expectations because, as he said, they hadn't become norms yet in the classroom.
The term that you use is actually important. It communicates to students as surely as other actions in the classroom, so choose wisely!
The Power of the Socratic Classroom
Older or more experienced students may want to start by developing their own norms, in which case I recommend instead calling them “agreements.” Since Socratic Seminars work on the principle of gradual release of responsibility, this could be an immediate move for students to take ownership. In fact, the very first seminar of the year could be focused on how to engage in group dialogue in the first place. These questions may help: How should groups behave in order to achieve their goals? What norms should we create for ourselves this year when we want to engage in dialogue? What are the ingredients of a good discussion? What stops a conversation? What is the difference between gossip and discussion? What is the best conversation you’ve ever had? How did it happen?