I attended a professional development day this past summer, and was sitting there thinking that the presenter must think I know nothing about teaching. I had been an educator for more than 15 years, and I was a newbie compared to most others in the group, yet she was talking to us as if we were new to instructional practices.

This made me wonder how often we do this to our elementary or secondary students.  How often do we go right into “teaching” mode without first understanding what they already know? I was immediately turned off at my training as an adult learner because my teacher did not honor or recognize what I already know, and I imagine that our students feel the same way at times.

The solution seems simple–ask the students what they know about a topic before you teach it. We can ask in a variety of ways–turn and talk, whole group sharing, raising hands, small group discussions, writing and many more. Honor what your students already know and let them share it, and the discussion and excitement that follows can enrich the learning for all.

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