When teachers listen, students learn

By Liesel Carlson
October 2020
Vol. 41, No. 5
The midwinter snow fell outside the classroom window as teacher Nicole Minor set up an iPod Touch, pressed record, and focused her 1st-hour Algebra 2 class on the learning target written on the board. “Please take a moment to read the learning target for today,” she told the class. “Think to yourself, how can you write this in your own words so it makes sense to you? Now turn and talk with your neighbor.” After students discussed their thinking with a peer and wrote down their learning targets, Minor chose a few students to share with the whole group and then continued with the lesson. After 30 minutes, Minor stopped the iPod recording and uploaded it to a secure online platform. A few minutes later,

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Coach-teacher discussion questions

Guiding questions for coach-teacher discussions based on the CLASS framework include:

  • Do I have regular opportunities to check in with students about their thoughts, feelings, and experiences?
  • Have I provided opportunities for choice, student leadership, and peer collaboration?
  • Have I made the lesson and learning relevant and valuable for my students?
  • What is the balance between teacher and student talk in my lessons?
  • Have I provided opportunities for students to do the thinking: connecting previous and current learning, analyzing, comparing, generating, and reflecting?

These questions individually and collectively can help ensure that students feel valued and engaged in the learning.


Allen, J.P., Gregory, A., Mikami, A.Y., Lun, J., Hamre, B.K., & Pianta, R.C. (2013). Observations of effective teaching in secondary school classrooms: Predicting student achievement with the CLASS-S. School Psychology Review, 42(1), 76-98.

Allen, J.P., Hafen, C.A., Gregory, A.C., Mikami, A.Y., & Pianta, R. (2015). Enhancing secondary school instruction and student achievement: Replication and extension of the My Teaching Partner-Secondary intervention. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 8(4), 475-489.

Allen, J.P., Pianta, R.C., Gregory, A., Mikami, A.Y., & Lun, J. (2011). An interaction-based approach to enhancing secondary school instruction and student achievement. Science, 333(6045), 1034-1037.

Gregory, A., Hafen, C.A., Ruzek, E., Mikami, A.Y., Allen, J.P., & Pianta, R.C. (2016). Closing the racial discipline gap in classrooms by changing teacher practice. School Psychology Review, 45(2), 171-191.

Pianta, R.C., Hamre, B.K., & Mintz, S. (2012). Classroom Assessment Scoring System Manual, Secondary. Teachstone.

Pianta, R.C., Funk, G.W., Hadden, D.S., & Hamre, B.K. (2010).
CLASS 1-on-1 Video Coaching (MTP) handbook for coaches.

Shores, K,A., Kim, H.E., & Still, M. (2019). Categorical inequality in black and white: Linking disproportionality across multiple educational outcomes. (EdWorkingPaper: 19-168).

Image for aesthetic effect only - Liesel-carlson-scaled-e1612550044849
iCollaborate Program Coordinator | + posts

Liesel is the iCollaborate program coordinator and My Teaching Partner-Secondary coach in the Lansing School District, Lansing, Michigan.

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