Generating "Sticky" Teacher Moves

You "teach" stuff. Kids understand a certain subset of that stuff. Weeks or months later, they remember even less. What sticks?

The best book which tackles what knowledge we remember is Dan Willingham's Why Students Don't Like School.

Training teachers has one additional step. We "teach." Our trainees comprehend pretty much all of it. But the next step is can they actually do it. And then, will they do it once they become full-time rookie teachers? What sticks?

There's a very simple teacher move called an "I need" statement.

The instinct of most rookies is to say something like "Can everyone take out their books?" or "It'd be great if you pulled in your chair." Our rookies say "I need you to pull in your chair." It's such a small distinction. Yet based on all our observations of more effective teachers, this was a small strand we pulled out.

And this move "stuck." Our evaluators -- principals we hire to observe our grads against a control group of other rookies -- described hearing that language.

Meanwhile, this move did not stick so well: creating unusually explicit "exit tickets" that measure whether kids achieved the day's Aim. The evaluators didn't see that in almost any rookie teachers, ours or the control group.

Well, we "taught" exit tickets last spring. We used them in student teaching. But it didn't stick. So now we try to ask our rookies in the trenches: why not?

It turns out there are a number of reasons why many don't consistently use an exit ticket. We've already dug up 8 or 9 that we hadn't really thought about.

We need to find a way to address those reasons -- deal with reality-on-the-ground for rookies -- or the move will stay unsticky.

Ideally, researchers would construct:

1. A list of all teacher moves 2. Evidence on which teacher moves are high impact, low impact, or impact neutral 3. Reasons that certain very useful teacher moves are nonetheless not "sticky" 4. Ways to fix that