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What does supportive challenge sound like?

Blog

What does supportive challenge sound like?

Video coming soon!

Supportive challenge can be seen in these two professional conversations. In the first, elementary teachers Jaymie and Aija discuss reading partnerships in Jaymie’s first grade classroom:

J: An end goal would be that when students are reading, and they think of something, they’re able to pause and share with their partner whatever they’re thinking. But I don’t know how I’m going to get there yet.

A: If you could envision what came right after the “Did you know ____?” sentence stem, what would you like to see?

J: I guess just back and forth about the statement that that person made.

A: [Pause.] And how might you model that?

J: [Pause.] That’s a good question…I’m not sure. Because it seems like whenever I see it, it’s just happening on its own, and I don’t know how they’re doing it.

A: It sounds like a next step for you is thinking about the back and forth that you want to see and how to design a mini-lesson or instruction showing students the back and forth after the sentence stem.

Aija’s questions helped reveal a gap for Jaymie who didn’t realize she hadn’t fully visualized all of the steps of the process she wanted her students to follow.

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The second professional conversation involves computer science teachers Sam, Kendrick, and Joni. Sam was curious about how to better support his students’ problem-solving, so he video-recorded himself helping students. The three colleagues watch two short clips from his conversations with two different students, Myleah and Alex, and then discuss.

K: One thing I noticed in the videos is Alex had a longer session with Sam.

S: Well, Myleah described the problem so well I knew she knew how to fix it. So I turned the recording off and just said, “Go fix it.”

J: What about with Alex?

S: With Alex, I’ve been confused about his process, what he does to try to solve a problem. So I helped him understand the problem.

K: Did you think you ended up helping him understand the problem?

S: [Pause.] I think so. I mean…I, well I can see I talked a lot more with him than with Myleah. I didn’t really understand what he was trying to do, so I just gave him that suggestion of what to move where. [Pause.] I guess I just gave him part of the answer so he could move on.

J: What do you ultimately want Alex to do when he gets stuck 

S: I want him to have some strategies for moving forward on his own, but I’m talking too much. [Pause.] OK, now I’m thinking I need to figure out what strategies would help struggling students move forward on their own without me telling them how to move forward and robbing them of their thinking.

Joni and Kendrick’s questions helped reveal a blind spot for Sam; he hadn’t realized that he wasn’t letting all students have a chance to solve the problems on their own.

This article was written in November 201p, Mills Teacher Scholars changed their name to Lead by Learning in the fall of 2020.