1. Pupils can make decisions themselves.
Encourage pupils to make decisions about how they learn best. Create opportunities for them to pursue their own interests and practise skills in a variety of ways. Cater for different learning styles. Don’t expect everyone to respond in the same way. Respect their differences. Integrate technology to encourage creative expression of learning.
2. Lead the process with open questions
Ask open-ended questions, with plenty of possible answers which lead to further questions. Acknowledge all responses equally. Use thinking routines to provide a framework for students to engage with new learning by making connections, thinking critically and exploring possibilities. Create action guides to visualize such frameworks.
3. Reduce your instruction as much as possible.
Minimise instruction and talking at them in front of the classroom . Dalton classes have no rows of learners facing the front of the class. Arrange the seats so that students can communicate, think together, share ideas and construct meaning by discussing and collaborating. Every exchange doesn’t need to go through the teacher or get the teacher’s approval, encourage students to respond directly to each other.
4. Model behaviors and attitudes that promote learning.
Be an inquirer. Make your thinking process explicit. A Dalton teacher is an active participant in the learning community. Model and encourage enthusiasm, open-mindedness, curiosity and reflection. Show that you value initiative above compliance. Stimulate them to use their competences instead of stimulation of competition.
5. Ask for feedback.
Build up a thinking routine by starting always with focussing on the goal of the lesson. And at the end of the process get your students to write down what they learned, whether they enjoyed a particular learning experience, what helped their learning, what hindered their learning and what might help them next time. Take notice of what they write and build learning experiences based on it.
6. Test less
Record student thinking and track development over time. Provide opportunities for applying learning in a variety of ways. Create meaningful assessment, assignments that allow transfer of learning to other contexts. Have students publish expressions of their learning on the internet for an authentic audience. Place as much value on process and progress, as on the final product.
7. Encourage goal setting and reflection.
Help students to define goals for their learning. Provide opportunities for ongoing self-evaluation and reflection. Provide constructive, specific feedback. Stimulate to create individual student blogs. These are great tools for reflecting on learning and responding to their peers. Dalton works with teams and therefore a team blog could be feasable too.
8. Don’t over plan the learning process.
If you know exactly where the lesson is leading and what you want the kids to think, then you‘re controlling the learning. Plan a strong provocation that will ‘invite the students in’ and get them excited to explore the topic further. But don’t plan in too much detail where it will go from there.
9. Focus on learning, not work.
Make sure you and your pupils know the reason for every learning experience. Don’t give ‘busy work’. Give them individual assignments forms. Don’t start by planning activities, start with planning of the ‘why‘. And their assignments develop learning experiences which will support independent learning. Include appropriate tech tools to support the learning.
10. Organise a pupils’ portfolio.
Rather than only reporting to parents about their children’s learning, they can show their developments by creating their own portfolio. The pupil talks about strengths and weaknesses, how learning has progressed and areas for improvement. The portfolio combines the process and the product of learning.
Adepted by an idea of Edna Sackson