Mulling Over Metacognition

I really enjoyed listening to my students today, as they discussed how they learn best (and why). After publishing my blog post sharing this conversation, I started to do even more thinking about the conversation.

How do Grade 1’s figure out how they learn best? Many students shared examples of experiences that they’ve had this year. They talked about,

  • learning by doing.
  • learning from others (teachers and peers).
  • learning from their mistakes.

They shared many of the ways that we’ve learned in class all year long. But what if our classroom looked differently than it does now? 

  • What if we only did worksheets?
  • What if I, as the teacher, solved all classroom problems?
  • What if all of the teaching was done in a lecture format?
  • What if exploration, choice, and voice weren’t valued?

I wonder how my students would have answered my question then. Without opportunities to reflect and discuss thinking, I wonder if they would have been able to. And this makes me sad, as for the last 11 years that I taught primary, I didn’t teach the way that I do now. Maybe students can only think about thinking — whether six years old, or sixteen years old — if we give them enough opportunities to do so all year long. How do we ensure that we provide these opportunities for all students? What are the possible long-term benefits in doing so? While reflecting on thinking and learning can be a challenge for children and adults alike, I know after today’s discussion — that from now on — I always want to have a class of students that can confidently share what they want and need to succeed. Who’s with me?


2 thoughts on “Mulling Over Metacognition

  1. I do agree that we need to challenge students to think so they can do the metacognitive tasks that you have mentioned. Like any other skill it can be mastered with guidance and practice.

    Who would not want their students to be critical and thougthful thinkers?

    • Thanks for the comment, Byron! I think your question is a very important one. I bet all teachers DO want their students to be critical and thoughtful thinkers, but I wonder if others felt like I used to: that we were expecting too much from our youngest learners, and that they couldn’t do what our older students could do. Maybe we all just need to see what’s possible to realize that we need these high expectations for all students: young and old and regardless of academic strengths or needs. One thing that I’ve definitely learned this year is that ALL students can think. I wish that I really realized this before now.


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