Wednesday, June 12, 2013


CONCEPT: As students are having a 'class congress'-generating the big ideas from a previously completed investigation, the teacher/facilitator monitors their discussion with zero validation.

INITIAL RESPONSE: I watched some videos of a teacher using non responsive techniques, and I was horrified. The kids would be crushed after providing an intensive explanation of their results and the teacher would just turn and walk away. Even if the student was spot on; she would simply turn and walk away. Now, this wasn't the only interaction the teacher had with her students. She would guide them to clarify their math terminology, dismiss outrageous ideas, and reroute their detours to continue working towards the objective. I even know how the students feel because this presenter-Pam Harris has been using this technique on us for the past three days. My colleague and I were very upset and trying to shut down, just like what our students will try to do.

HOWEVER, REALIZATION: As the presenter continued to have us process this method, with the objective question in mind-"How does this benefit the community aspect of your classroom?"; we made some discoveries. I realized that I was looking for that 'teacher pet' validation. When that enthusiastic validation is given, the classroom brainstorm usually stops, and students then try to mirror their inferences to the student that was validated. I also became more open to all inputs from other colleagues. I observed closely and listened intently looking for the correct conclusion since I had become uncertain of my own thoughts. As I heard other's thoughts and realized others agreed with my conclusions, I became self validated and had acquired new understanding from other perspectives.

CONCLUSION: The non-responsive strategy is a method suggested to be used at the beginning of the year to level the playing field for all students. You want the student to be in charge of their learning and looking to get what they need out of the lesson and not what the teacher wants. We all have exceptional teacher pets that know what to say and how to get super enthusiastic validation from us, but what about the quiet student that knows much more than the teacher will ever know because he has assumed from day one that the teacher pet can handle it.

POINT: Something that I will consider using with the objective of building a classroom community that expects all students to respect each others' thoughts and ideas equally.

QUOTE: "Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success." Henry Ford



  • Class Congress - This is a class discussion strategy based on the International Congress of Mathematics.
  • Pam Harris

This is a strategy that I am still unsure of; please let me know of experiences and reflections that you know of. If you have another understanding of this strategy, I would love to hear.