Doug Lemov's field notes

Reflections on teaching, literacy, coaching, and practice.

02.02.16A Question About SLANT

A colleague in Blackpool, England, Stephen Tierney, recently wrote to pass along some questions that had come up in conversations about TLaC with his teachers.   They were all good questions and he’s shared most of them (and my answers) on his own blog here:.  But for one question I thought it would help if i shared a rough cut video I’d recently put together … so I’m posting the question and my response here both for Stephen’s colleagues and in case it’s useful to you.

Question: What’s the best way to introduce techniques like SLANT to older pupils?

Older pupils want to know why you are doing things. They should understand the why so they know your procedures and expectations are an expression of your belief in them- your respect for them means their time in school is immensely valuable. It’s your responsibility to use it as productively as you can.  To care about someone, to believe in someone, is to sometimes demand a lot from them.  Students don’t always see that right away. They see an inconvenience.  But they should understand the bigger picture it if we explain it that way.  That way even if they do not always like everything you do (or think they’ll like it at first) they will understand why you do it and that your expectations are grounded in respect and caring.  This is important. Expectations are not about you or about exercising power but about them and about their learning. “It would easy for me to let you slouch over and sleep even if you wanted to, but that would be cheating you.  It’s my job to make sure you learn as much as you possibly can. This is a tool to help you always be at the top of your game.  I will try to remind you are gently as I can. But I respect what you can achieve too much not to require it of you.” Etc.

I’d also suggest keeping things a little muted with them in terms of tone on reinforcement. Generally, subtle humor is good if you can pull it off. Privacy is better so if you must remind, remind privately when you can (of course you can’t).  And strive to talk to them like adults.

If we’re talking SLANT particularly I’d advise a lot of low key reinforcement. “Check yourself to make sure you look like a scholar” vs “I need to see everyone SLANTing please” gives older students a some agency and just a bit of time to fix themselves on their own. I’m pasting in a link to a montage of teachers reinforcing SLANT. I think the difference between the teachers is telling. The third and fourth teachers especially.

SLANT MONTAGE v2 from Uncommon Schools on Vimeo.



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