Work vs. Learning

I’ve been reading Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools by Ron Ritchhart this summer.

In his chapter on Expectations, Ritchhart wonders “What difference does it make if a teacher asks, ‘Is your work done?’ or ‘Where are you in your learning?’”

He cites a study in one London school that found the word “work” was used forty-nine times more often than the word “learning” when teachers were talking with students. Since I’ve read this chapter, I’ve noticed some of my friends and colleagues using “work” vs. “learning” in conversation about classes and students.

I wonder whether asking “Where are you in your learning” has something to do with the Slow Math Movement.

How might students respond to “Is your work done?” versus “Where are you in your learning?”

To which question would a student answer:

I am almost finished.

I am finished.

I’m on #17.

I have learned ___.

I still wonder ___.

I have figured out ___, but I have a question about ___.

I need to know ___.

What’s the point of doing this?

How often do we introduce a task with an emphasis on the learning that can occur from it? How often do we introduce an assignment with an emphasis on the requirements of the assignment?

What will you do to make it evident to your students that you want to “focus on the learning”?

Ritchhart, Ron. “Expectations: Recognizing How Our Beliefs Shape Our Behavior.” Creating Cultures of Thinking: The 8 Forces We Must Master to Truly Transform Our Schools. Jossey-Bass, 2015. 43-46. Print.

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