Interactions are "patterns of discourse" and are broken into two categories - Teacher-Student and Student-Student. Ritchhart says "by creating new patterns of discourse, providing students with roles that structure learning, and asking good questions, we can do much to shape the interactions of our classrooms (p. 224).
Teacher-student relationships are critical. We must build relationships upon which our classroom learning can occur. We also must also be non-directive (student choice...student voice), press for thinking (push...prod...promote), and support student autonomy (leaders of their learning). We must ask good questions, practice the "reflective toss" (a question for a question - can you say more about that? or what makes you say that?) and replace the Question-Respond-Evaluate pattern of discourse with a more student-focused/facilitated conversation.
Students must also interact in a way that facilitates a culture of thinking. We can support our student-student interactions by utilizing discourse protocols, setting up roles that structure learning, providing sentence stems for conversations, setting up group norms for discourse, and by encouraging students to go deeper with their conversations (ice cream-coning vs. popcorning).
Strong interactions (teacher-to-student and student-to-student) will go a long way in building a culture of thinking!
- No significant learning can occur without a significant relationship.
- Relationships serve to motivate and engage us.
- Strong teacher-student relationship play an important role in supporting student achievement and in particular, the development of critical thinking."
- When students perceive their classes as places where their independence as learners is valued and they are given opportunities to exercise legitimate control of their learning, they are more disposed to engage in critical thinking."
- Warm demanders... "walk a fine line between supporting insecure tentative learners used to shutting down when things become too hard and pushing students to go deeper, contribute more, and engage with one another."