Bringing the Learner Profile Language into your Socratic Seminar

Bringing the Learner Profile Language into your Socratic Seminar

Have you thought about how goal setting could have an impact on your students for socratic seminar?  Consider how you could start with a class goal to improve your sessions. Here are a few goals generated by fifth grade students after their first seminar experience.

  • Invite others to speak
  • Stay on topic
  • Justify your thinking

After students have worked together collaboratively, consider having students set personal goals that are tailored to their learning style.  Have them reflect beyond what they like about socratic seminar, but to consider how they can push themselves to get more out of the experience.

Here is a resource that will give some examples and may help you get started.  Don’t hesitate to ask if you want to work collaboratively with a coach!

Looking for some examples of how to get started?   Here are some lesson question starters and lesson ideas.


Growth Mindset Coach – November

Growth Mindest, It’s All About the Relationships…

In the field of education, we realize that relationships are especially essential to generate success. Relationships can make all the difference in a building’s culture. Teacher’s in a fixed mindset will always say that they don’t have anything to learn from their students, parents and colleagues. On the other hand, teachers with a growth mindset know other people are their greatest allies in being successful at both work and life. The growth mindset teacher values other people because other people can teach us a lot!


In the November chapter of The Growth Mindset Coach, by Brock and Hundley, we would like to share some of the highlights as they pertain to having a growth mindset in regards to building relationships with students, parents, and even colleagues.


Building Relationships with Students



A 2013 TED Talk “Every Kid Needs a Champion” featured a veteran teacher, Rita Pierson, having an exchange with another teacher. It went like this:


“A colleague said to me one time, ‘They don’t pay me to like kids. They pay me to teach a lesson. The kids should learn it. I should teach it, they should learn it. Case closed.’ My response, ‘You know, kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.’”



Research backs Pierson’s claim- students DO NOT LEARN from unlikeable teachers! Teachers everywhere all know that students don’t learn as much from teachers they don’t like. Look at your own education. Did you enjoy going to class with a teacher that you did not like? What about that teacher that really ‘got you’? I bet we all had that teacher and performed well in their classroom. Building strong relationships with your students is important to letting them know that they are valued in the classroom.

Five Cornerstones of a teacher’s approach to effective relationship building with students:

*Students know that the teacher has faith in their ability to achieve.

*Students respect and like their teacher as a person.

*Students seek and embrace the teacher’s feedback.

*Students know that grades are less important than growth.

*Students feel safe with their teacher.


Relationship Building Strategies: it is a known fact that people associate positive feelings with those that they have things in common. When teachers share a common interest with a student that bond is made and teachers need to use this to develop the relationships that most students want.

Activities and strategies teachers can use to build stronger connections with students:

Find common ground (simply finding commonalities)

Lunch buddies (schedule lunch dates with small groups of students)

-Two minute check-ins (make an effort to to approach a student and talk for a couple of minutes about a non-school related issue)

-Just say yes (make it a point to say ‘yes’ to student requests as often as you can)

-Meet them at the door (try to greet each of your students as they enter the classroom)

-Get-to-know-you activities (engage students in activities to understand each student)

-Hand signals and code words (use hand signals instead of yelling at students)

-Golden rule teaching (Treat students the same way that you want to be treated)

– Forget the shop talk (Find out their extra-curriculars)


Building Positive Relationships with Parents

Parent involvement in a student’s education has positive effects. As teachers, we know that parents matter. A teacher with a growth mindset makes efforts to get all parents interested in their student’s educational journey.

How do we communicate with parents? Effective communication with parents doesn’t have to have a protracted, face-to-face conference in order to make a difference. Emails, newsletters, phone calls, classroom blogs, social media, etc. all all ways to communicate (it just depends on what works best for you). Best practice tells us that when we are in constant communication with our parents that there are no ‘red flags’ that turn parents away. Communicating with parents should not always be for negative instances, but sharing the POSITIVES is welcomed even more!


Building Relationships with Colleagues

Building relationships with colleagues  benefits entire school culture. More importantly, you can’t share the growth mindset of colleagues without first developing a solid foundational relationship.


Ways to relationships and learn from colleagues:

Mentoring Cooperative Teaching

PLC Groups Book Clubs

Committees Build interpersonal relationships

PBL Planning Interest Inventories


Socratic Seminar Sharing

We wanted to follow up from our Reading-Based Socratic Seminar professional learning morning from September.  So many of you responded positively from the experience, and we also received some feedback that you would have liked to see a Socratic Seminar in action.  

First graders during an SEL lesson in Mrs Smith and Mrs. Mingo’s class.

Throughout each building and at varying grade levels, teachers and students have been taking steps to implement the Socratic Seminar in a manner that scaffolds for their grade level. We would like to take a few minutes to share some examples of students who are taking an active role in reading-based discussions through socratic seminar.  Some examples we have seen in person and others have been shared on Twitter. All teachers have agreed to share their experience here as a way of growing our professional learning together.  We know there are more of you who we have missed.  Please share.  We would love to showcase your work.

If you are looking to explore how socratic seminar in your classroom, don’t hesitate to let us know.

Please leave any questions or comments for us below!


“I will say that I was very surprised by my kids the first time we did this. They did a great job of sharing their thinking and taking turns in the circle talk. We have continued this on Fridays and they really look forward to doing our circle talks :)” -Liz Schulz


Mrs. Reilly’s Class  Video on Twitter

















Here is an example of socratic seminar in writing workshop (single circle).


Teachers starting the double circle approach may need to do some scaffolding.  Here is an example of a first attempt in second grade.


Here is an example of a double circle in a third grade class.