TED Conversations

Tosca Killoran

Digital Learning Coach, NIST International School


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How do you help engender a culture of thinking within your learning community?

As educators, it is easy to get caught up in the content we need to cover or the myriad of tasks we need to fulfill; but, isn't it just as important for our students to learn the thinking skills involved in order to strive for understanding, to figure out the complexities of ethics, or to seek truth? How do we encourage and motivate thinking with our learning communities? How do we document, challenge and celebrate student thinking? How do we engender thinking as a habit of mind within our students and our classrooms?


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  • May 7 2012: Tosca,
    You seem like a good teacher; adults and children learn from your methods!!!

    My spouse has a decade of experience teaching elementary; we've talked a lot. She also was highly interested in motivating her pupils. She stated some were problematic behavior challenges and some were slow. I assume your techniques work well for the average and above average child. What can you do for the recalcitrant ones and those of slower abilities? I guess any good teacher would give the best they have and hope children benefit.

    The fact that you think a lot is a sign of good inner motivation. Perhaps it is the teacher's motives that greater determine if a child thinks deeper and is motivated to learn. It does seem right to carefully guide their thinking; it seems you do.

    Is it good or possible to teach a child how to MEASURE their progress? Not measure up, but to compare their past understanding with their current education level and to dream for more.

    You do well without me going on! Best regards for developing a stellar career!

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      May 12 2012: Hi Mark,
      I love your posts!! Always challenging me to reflect on my practice.

      I do think that each child learns at where they are at, and no matter where that 'at' is, it is my job to differentiate for their specific needs. The thinking routines are not for exceptional children, nor for perfectly behaved children, they are for all children. The challenge of teaching as a profession is to find the right 'fit' for that particular learner for that particular task. It can be exhausting- but is why I love my job! I never just hope children benefit, I struggle to find ways that they will learn and excel. No excuses- ever. If they are not learning it is something about my teaching or the ways in which I need help supporting that learner.

      Engendering a culture of thinkers in the classroom requires reflection. This is really, especially in my grade level of 5 year olds, the way for students to measure their progress. It is not about a rubric or percentages but about building self efficacy and a love of learning. By assessing; What have I done? How did I do it? and How could I do it differently next time? enables students to take ownership of the process of learning.

      I would love to hear your wife's stories of being a teacher. I am always fascinated by how far we have come as a profession, and what we can learn from the experts around us!!

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