Do You Have 21st-Century Skills to Help Your Students Succeed?
Do Your Students Have 21st-Century Skills to Think for Themselves?
The Power of the Socratic Classroom has the answers you are looking for—answers that will supply the strategies to show students how to succeed into the future. A future that has unknown products, unidentified jobs, and unanticipated challenges.
In Socratic Seminar, teachers shift to the role of facilitator, where they help their students develop the collaborative interpersonal skills, the critical and creative thinking skills, and the speaking and listening skills to face the upcoming challenges of the 21st century.
Charles Fischer has taught in public and private schools in a variety of settings, from rural Maine to inner city Atlanta. In the past 20 years, he has worked with a wide range of students from 4th grade to AP English and has been nominated for Teacher of the Year four times. He has his Master’s degree in Teaching & Learning from the University of Southern Maine, and received his B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing from Binghamton University. His latest book, The Power of the Socratic Classroom, has won four awards, including the NIEA Best Education Book. His first novel, Beyond Infinity, won a 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award bronze medal (YA fiction). His areas of expertise are Socratic Seminar, Active Listening, Inquiry, Teaching & Learning, and Critical & Creative Thinking. He is currently working on a book of poetry, a short story collection, and several novels.
The area I get asked the most about is how to get shy students to participate. It's painful sometimes to watch weeks go by and some students haven't spoken up in class. Obviously, some students speak a lot and others don't. But observe many of the shy students and you will notice that they speak a lot outside of class. What's going on? It's an important question because helping shy students find their voices is vitally important.
After years of facilitating seminars and working with shy students, the main issue is with the speed of conversation. Many discussions simply move too quickly for the shy students and they can't find ways into the conversation. The single best method to help is to ask a new question, use a turn-and-talk and follow with "I'd like to hear from someone who hasn't spoken yet." This alone will work 90% of the time.
The Power of the Socratic Classroom
Make a list of everything you can think of that could cause a student to not participate. What could be causing potential stigma, shame, fear, or embarrassment? What barriers could you take down? How could you create a safer space? How could you encourage and reward risk-taking? Keep in mind, if there are students dominating the seminars, they will need to be dealt with simultaneously in order to create space for shy students. If necessary, meet with students outside of class. Have them make anonymous lists of reasons they don’t participate, and what would motivate them to take risks.