A few years ago, the Head of Math at my school confided in me that he was trying to “sneak” explicit instructions into his department. The school was full of romantic ideas about learning and childhood, and anything “teacher led” was seen as top-down, coercive, antiquated, or just plain boring. But my Head of Math friend had observed too many lessons in which the students were given large “authentic” problems and then blamed for not being spongey enough to absorb the math. Sensing he’d be ignored if he used the words “explicit” or “direct” with his teachers, he opted for more palatable terms such as “structured”, “scaffolded”, and “supported.” Of course, all he really wanted was to disabuse his teachers of the notion that they should sit back and let their students teach themselves the material.
In a recent episode of the Chalk & Talk podcast, I was invited to talk about what explicit instruction entails, how it’s supported by cognitive load theory, and how instructional coaching can help teachers to start leveraging evidence-informed practices. I hope you tune in by clicking here or in the player below, and share widely – especially with colleagues who find themselves in a similar predicament as my Head of Math friend. Enjoy!