Speaking of Wide-Ranging Evidence of Learning | Hooray For Monday

April 8, 2024

By Jenna Fournel, Director of Teaching and Learning

Listen to this week’s Hooray for Monday Podcast for an additional perspective on Wide-Ranging Evidence of Learning. In the podcast, you’ll hear from Amani, a teacher-educator from Jordan and a recent Inspired Teaching Institute participant, who shares what she learned from centering students’ questions rather than her own.

For nearly a decade, our Speak Truth program has provided a powerful example of the Inspired Teaching Approach in practice. Over the next several weeks we’ll be looking at how giving students the reins when it comes to conversation in the classroom can boost engagement and lead to learning at a level you and your students never imagined.

Last week, I read a New York Times piece about Daniel Kahneman (who died on March 27) titled “The Nobel Prize-Winning Professor Who Liked to Collaborate With His Adversaries.” The article explains how Kahneman sought out “adversarial collaboration” with other researchers whose work conflicted with his own. He wanted to know why their results differed from his and to work with them to find answers.

“He experienced real joy working with others to discover the truth, even if he learned that he was wrong (something that often delighted him).” In these collaborations, Kahneman found that “when people who disagree work together to test a hypothesis, they are involved in a common endeavor. They are trying not to win but to figure out what’s true. They might even become friends.”

Kahneman’s approach is about exercising curiosity over judgment. It feels vital in a world starved for understanding. It’s what our Speak Truth program is all about.

However “adversarial collaboration” can be hard to assess in an educational culture that prioritizes correct answers over uncertainty. Because students need to grow as learners and teachers need to be able to show that their students are growing, we tend to teach what we can measure. So when it comes to student-led discussions on issues relevant to their lives, we need to seek Wide-Ranging Evidence of Learning (the final of Inspired Teaching’s 5 Core Elements) – evidence that goes well beyond a standardized test.

Here are a few areas where we consistently see evidence of growth:

  • Students gain more confidence in public speaking with each session they attend and talk more and more.

  • Students become more curious about other people’s lives. Comments include: “I was able to relate to someone who first-hand experienced Gentrification. I haven’t been on the displaced side of things, however, I’ve witnessed it countless times.” “Today’s discussion allowed me to hear new points of view from people directly affected by the issues presented. Hearing first-hand accounts helped shape my point of view.”

  • Students begin to see themselves as actors and not just reactors to the challenges they face. Comments include: “I will look more into the world. I will be a voice and spread the word.” “I will think about how I can improve as a peer representative for people in my age group.” “I will think about how to find a solution to a problem by first solving the root cause.”

It’s interesting to think about how what we value as evidence of learning can actually change the learning itself. What more might our students be able to do if we place our value on the process of discovery and the collaborative search for truth?

For additional insights, resources, and information on Inspired Teaching teacher and youth programming, subscribe to the Hooray For Monday newsletter!

Hooray For Monday is an award-winning weekly publication by Center for Inspired Teaching, an independent nonprofit organization that invests in and supports teachers. Inspired Teaching provides transformative, improvisation-based professional learning for teachers that is 100% engaging – intellectually, emotionally, and physically. Our mission is to create radical change in the school experience – away from compliance and toward authentic engagement.

Listen to This Week’s Episode of Hooray For Monday

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