One of the best things that has happened to my teaching in the past five years is that I’ve realized, as Sonya ter Borg puts it that I am not “The only teacher in the room.”
I recently read an interesting post about the importance to let students push through problems. In order to engage students in a student-driven problem solving environment, we have to let them talk. By letting them talk, I don’t mean provoking them to respond to our questions, our thoughts—but encouraging them rather, to talk to one another. The Harkness Table method is one of the best ways to hand the floor over.
I’ve developed my own modified guidelines for hosting a Harkness Table Talk, you are welcome to check them out here.
I love Harkness Table Talk days. I used to love lecturing. I’ve learned to love listening. Real teaching, begins with listening.
Part of my passion for making sure the Harkness method remains a dietary staple in my classroom stems from Sonya ter Borg’s eBook: Imagine A School.
In her book, Sonya applauds encourages us to let our students ‘do what they do,’ make mistakes and then ‘try again.’
This embodies the spirit of the Harkness method (or any truly meaningful conversation). Thinking, experimenting, questioning, listening, speaking, leaving and then returning to the table: having a community to think with–this is what school is about. What are we doing to rethink our classrooms? How are we redesigning the ways we build thoughtful mini-societies?
Sometimes it is as simple as making time for students to hear their own thoughts. Sometimes it is as simple as making the time to read one of your favorite teacher-bloggers.
This is why I nominate Sonya ter Borg for an #eddies14 lifetime achievement award. In the massive online ‘table’ world where all educators are welcome, it is Sonya’s voice who continues to make us feel welcome. Thank you for continuing such an important discussion. Thank you for reminding me to construct learning by making room for others to build it. I invite more teachers to listen to her amazing thoughts here.