Monday / June 17

Listening to Students for Real School Change

When people use the word listen they mean hear plus do. I do believe that teachers do hear students but maybe far too few students are convinced that the teachers do anything because of what they hear.

This blog describes one way for students to know for sure the teacher listens to them. The practice is a part of continuous improvement practices in the classroom. The steps are below:

  1. Inform the students in the first week of school the background knowledge they will learn for the year. Students can also be given an idea of the performance expectations for the year, but probably not as quickly as a list of background knowledge vocabulary, concepts and principles.
  2. Randomly quiz the students on a random sample of the end-of-the-year expectations 7 times a quarter. These non-graded quizzes are scored and graphed for both individuals and for the class as a whole. These two graphs are typically called the student run chart and class run chart.
  3. The class run chart always has three phases which are best described with geographical terms: incline, valley and plateau. All three occur at some time each year. When the class has an incline, we celebrate. When the class has a valley it is almost always easy to know why – absences, hard questions, homecoming week, and so on.
  4. The plateau is both frustrating and an opportunity for improvement. The frustrating part is that the class run chart has not increased for 4-5 quizzes, nor has it decreased in any significant amount. The graph is simply stuck.

The listening that incorporates both hearing and doing is asking the students to establish a hypothesis for getting the graph back on an incline. I recommend telling the students that you want them to determine what would help them learn the background information better. The students are to establish the hypothesis to test.

They are saying, “If we do this for three weeks, we predict that our class run chart will start back on an incline.” In general, teachers say to the students they will set aside 10-15 minutes four times a week for three weeks to test the students’ hypothesis. Often the students come up with ideas that teachers would have never thought about and very often the students’ hypotheses work. Amazing.

The power of allowing students to establish the hypothesis to test proves that the teacher not only hears them, but is also doing something about the hearing.



ATB is All-Time-Best

Quizzes 2,13,14,16,18 and 22 show inclines Quiz 17 is valley

Weeks 5‐12 are perfect for students to establish a hypothesis.

The Class Run Chart is from Liliana Velasco’s high school Spanish class. Quizzes are on randomly selected vocabulary from end‐of‐year expectations. If interested in students’ performance ability go to, click on the YouTube icon and watch students being interviewed in Spanish.

Written by

Lee Jenkins is a Corwin author, consultant and speaker. His book Optimize Your School: It’s All About the Strategy, was released in June of 2015. His processes are successfully implemented in PK to 12 in all subjects. The major focus is intrinsic motivation through continuous improvement. Because students complete all graphs of data there is extremely high student engagement. Effect sizes have been calculated, based upon John Hattie’s Visible Learning, that range from .65 to over 4.00 with an average of 1.5. He strives to replace “teaching, learning and forgetting” with “teaching, learning and remembering.” Classroom scenes and student and teacher interviews are available through and then clicking on the YouTube icon.

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