Lesson Idea: Learning Objectives

Jessica Till asks a good question on Twitter:

and Graham's response stood out to me:

Turning this around (also mentioned by [Will Dunn later in the thread](https://twitter.com/Willmdunn/status/1044592375526510593)), what would happen if we taught a lesson or went through an activity _without_ positing the objective and then have students state the learning as an exit ticket or closing discussion. What insight could we glean?

Intentions are important, but implementation is harder.

H/T to [Darren Burris](https://twitter.com/dgburris) and [Dan Meyer for showing up in my timeline](https://twitter.com/ddmeyer/status/1044426373425586176).

The Psychology of Classroom Discussions

I've never heard of the Asch Experiment, but this video is worth watching.

[Kaplinsky's article](https://robertkaplinsky.com/psychology-classroom-discussions/) gives some good classroom ideas on how to avoid groupthink in student responses, even highlighting the Desmos teacher view to anonymize responses (which _also_ works [outside of math](https://blog.ohheybrian.com/2017/04/desmos-in-science/).

During student teaching, questioning was the first thing my training teacher worked on with me. I was prone to asking, "Who knows..." which left the door open to zero responses. Moving to direct questions, "What is...?" or "How does...?" removes escape. I also recall another great post (I can't find it now) about leaving uncomfortable silence after asking a question. Letting several hands go up in the air allows for discussion as you can call on more than the first student.

Mixing Kaplinsky's ideas with leaving room for responses is a great way to help students feel comfortable with replying, even if they disagree with others.

[Read the original article here](https://robertkaplinsky.com/psychology-classroom-discussions/).

Yes, Relationships Matter

I'm in some grad classes right now and in one, we were assigned to discuss, "Does building relationships with students _really_ matter?"

Prior to the discussion, we watched Rita Pierson's [TED talk](https://www.ted.com/talks/rita_pierson_every_kid_needs_a_champion) and read two articles: The _Post_ on differences between [white and black poverty](https://hyp.is/tOOsAGf1EeiQRJdH6VpqFw/www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/08/12/black-poverty-differs-from-white-poverty/) and a piece from mic.com on [white poverty in America](https://hyp.is/k63hemf3EeiJ0etMp3WFlA/mic.com/articles/59829/what-white-poverty-really-looks-like-in-america). (Both links are to annotated copies of the articles.)

My unedited response to the discussion thread is below.


I must admit, I've started and restarted this post several times this week.

Of course building relationships matters. If we neglect to build relationships, we are missing a fundamental aspect of teaching and learning. Regardless of culture, our species is reliant on relationships with other members. We are predisposed to bond with other people from birth through death. Teachers are in the unique position of spending more time with students than anyone besides their parents, which leads to relationships in some capacity.

Fostering positive relationships will help lead to emotional and mental stability that students, especially students of poverty, are often lacking. We get into dangerous territory when relationships become the only support mechanism for the poor instead of improved services and social programs. In the Post article, the plan to open affordable housing in wealthy neighborhoods is only hindered by the free market and social biases. There is nothing stopping housing developers from lowering rent other than their own bottom lines. Poverty can be combated with solid public education, but to really change the landscape of American poverty, we need larger social change.

The support offered by teachers is critical, but so is support from school counselors and social workers. Since those services are underfunded (or nonexistent in some schools) teachers are left to figure it out on their own. Recently, the 'grit' narrative has taken hold, which is can lead to less obvious, yet counterproductive, results. Jensen (2016) and Kidd (2013) note that most poor families work more than their wealthier counterparts, so teachers encouraging students to get through their issues with perseverance and a belief that they can do better with harder work perpetuate the misconception that the poor are lazy. Students already working hard will be reluctant to form genuine relationships because grit places the blame back on the student, not by recognizing root causes.

Building positive relationships takes more than goodwill and a focus on mindset. Seeing students as people with real needs and real challenges is critical. Recognizing that our life circumstances do not reflect many of our students' builds empathy and allows bonds to form.


_Featured image is [December, 2009](https://flickr.com/photos/bennettscience/6851194168 "December, 2009") flickr photo by [bennettscience](https://flickr.com/people/bennettscience) shared under a [Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license](https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/)_