This post is adapted from a pedagogical strategy showcased on Instructional Moves, a new initiative from the Teaching and Learning Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The project, which is dedicated to the notion that great teaching can be learned, features videos that show Harvard instructors using highly effective, evidence-backed teaching moves, which can be adapted and applied across a variety of educational settings. This piece has been augmented for Usable Knowledge.
A great class discussion doesn't just share distinct ideas; it also shares distinct voices. When teachers call on students in equitable ways — elevating historically marginalized voices, waiting for a usually quiet person to speak, and making sure everyone is heard — they augment students' learning, boost their confidence, and reinforce values like tolerance and humility.
Setting a Standard of Inclusion
Patterns in classroom discussions can take shape from the very start of the school year. Often, the same small group of students will be the first to want to participate. So when teachers simply call on the first raised hands they see, those select few students will be the only ones sharing their answers and perspectives, while everyone else remains silent.