She makes a really compelling point early on when she says, “Conversation is a form of communication; however, it is usually more spontaneous and less formal.” This is scary for us sometimes. We like to maintain a degree of control over the learning process so we ensure that we meet our targets and objectives for a lesson or unit.
But with conversations it’s always hard to control and predict how they will unfold. And that’s because there is a natural flow to them; there are stops and starts, points of stalling and confusion followed by quick bursts of insights. Sometimes, insights gleaned from conversations actually occur after the conversation is over when participants have a chance to reflect upon the experience. Rather than see the unpredictability of conversations as an obstacle, we can view it as its most important and enduring quality.
What we DO have more control over, however, are the inputs necessary to set up the conversation. That’s why it’s so important to use a process that leads to memorable conversations. In a sense, you are making your own teaching moments.
Find that really good quotation at the beginning and then explore compelling claims and counterclaims to expose the meaning of the quote. By doing this, we are preparing ourselves to design a really good essential question that will be a perfect anchor for conversations connected to our curriculum.
Now that’s teaching differently.