In a college classroom, it is relatively easy to to review actions and plan ahead, given the length of time between classes, and the short duration of most lectures. In a junior high classroom, however, students are more talkative and getting them to participate is not as much of a challenge as being able to quickly understand what they are saying and to respond appropriately. This makes it more challenging to practice reflection in the moment, but it is also that much more critical.

Talkways is an emerging training approach that involves exposing junior high science teachers to audio data from classrooms that they didn’t teach. These classrooms represent interesting pedagogical environments that require this rapid execution of noticing and reflecting in order to determine what the right next step is. We have been developing this training system to exposes teachers to short, genuine audio snippets of students engaging in an active, discursive learning environment. Teachers listen to this and answer questions about the state of the students’ knowledge, the implications of different students’ contributions, and reflections about what they would do next if they were teaching the class.

This process helps teachers to experience an active classroom environment as many times as they like. This allows them to slow things down enough to reflect. It is easier for them to think about the learning objectives and whether or not the teacher that they are listening to is reaching these goals.

It also gives us a chance to investigate how teachers are thinking and the sorts of assumptions they make about students. We can investigate prejudice or bias that teachers have by changing the names of the students that we give them. For example, randomly naming a student Paul in the transcript in one instance, and naming him Raj in another instance, might expose if using different cultural signposts changes the way teachers reflect on how much the student knows.


Clarke, S., Gerritsen, D., Grainger, R., & Ogan, A. (2016). Uncovering Teachers’ Pedagogical Reasoning in Science Discussions In Looi, C. K., Polman, J. L., Cress, U., and Reimann, P. (Eds.). Transforming Learning, Empowering Learners: The International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2016, Volume 2. Singapore: International Society of the Learning Sciences.


David Gerritsen
Amy Ogan
Sherice Clarke
Rebecca Grainger