I’m afraid teaching is indeed a kind of rocket science.
It really is.
In a recent post called “How A Good Teacher Becomes Great,” I more than hinted at this, outlining just a few of the daily–and complex–tasks teachers perform every day in the classroom:
“Good teachers use data to drive instruction, know the ins and outs of their curriculum, have refined assessments over and over until they measure depth of content knowledge and not procedural knowledge or some crazy game of remember what the teacher said, or guess what the teacher’s thinking.
Good teachers create positive environments for students where each learner feels safe to share thinking, ask questions, and participate in conversations naturally.
In assignments, learning objectives are clear and within each student’s zone of proximal development—not too easy, not too hard. Resources come at just the right time, as do questions, grouping opportunities, and literacy strategies.
Transfer of knowledge is clear and apparent, backwards-planned for at the beginning of every intentionally planned and intricately-designed learning sequence.”
I went on for another 400 words of more of the same, and could’ve written 4000. Teaching is an incredibly complex act that, while natural, becomes convoluted when we throw 30 learners in the same space and try to teach them the same thing in a short period of time while sticking to an externally-driven schedule and standard set.
So sometimes it’s nice to put things a bit more simply, and that’s where the gradual release of responsibility models comes in–a useful tool that helps clarify teaching in the broadest possible sense.
Show me, help me, let me.
Within this short phrase lies several many of the pedagogical “best practices” (a term we’re not crazy about) that simply work in learning, most fundamentally modeling (show me), scaffolding and support (help me), and transfer (let me, though it’s true you can “let a student” without requiring transfer).
Using The Gradual Release Of Responsibility Model In The Classroom
The gradual release of responsibility model in the classroom is probably something you use all the time without noticing it.
Showing an example of a math theorem or textual analysis on the board or playing a visual example from a short YouTube video, then asking the students to try to do the same on their own. Coaches do it all the time on the field, showing techniques, then verbally guiding techniques, before releasing the players to try it on their own.
In the classroom, this model can help frame a unit–towards the beginning of the unit, there is a focus on exemplars and modeling, and towards the end a focus on individual performance.
It can work on a daily basis too–a lesson or activity structured in a way that moves from teacher (or expert)-centered to student-centered.
It can also be used for assessment–give an example, remove some of that support in “part B,” and in “Part C they’re entirely on their own to show you what they understand.
The gradual release of responsibility model is one of the oldest ideas in learning, and sometimes, with all of the hubbub about the latest trends, tools, and world-beating “research-based strategies” swimming around your head, it can help to get back to the basics of teaching and learning in 6 simple words.
Show me, help me, let me.
Image attribution flickr user flickeringbrad ; The Gradual Release Of Responsibility Model In 6 Simple Words