Takeaways from TLAC 2.0: No Opt Out

In this blog series, we’re digging into Teach Like a Champion 2.0 and discussing what we feel are the biggest takeaways from the book. Collaborating on the series are Petra Claflin (former teacher and instructional leader turned lead writer for YES Prep’s communications & marketing team), Elisa Gibbs (Middle School Math Specialist & math intervention teacher), and Sarah Murphy Traylor (former teacher and instructional coach & now talent recruiter for YES Prep).

Today’s takeaways are from Petra Claflin.

No Opt Out 2.0

The new strategies for No Opt Out really resonated with me. Carried over and expanded on from the original TLAC book, the basic strategy is that you don’t accept ‘I don’t know’ as an answer and use various strategies to make sure students are held accountable for successfully answering a question.

If you’re not familiar already, here are the four basic formats for No Opt Out:

  1. You provide the answer; your student repeats the answer.
  2. Another student provides the answer; the initial student repeats the answer.
  3. You provide a cue; your student uses it to find the answer.
  4. Another student provides a cue; the initial student uses it to find the answer.

In Teach Like a Champion 2.0, Lemov and his team ramp up the rigor with No Opt Out 2.0, suggesting that you follow up a successful No Opt Out with another question.
 
What stood out to me most were the empowering effects of this follow-up on the students. But first, the strategies:

Add Another At Bat. Ask the student a similar question to give them a chance to get it right the first time and feel truly successful.

Add a Stretch. Ask them to explain why or how they got the answer or for more evidence. Or you can ask a new question that adds an additional skill or level of difficulty.

Add an Error Analysis. Have them explain what they did wrong the first time or how they corrected themselves.

Add a “Star.” Ask a follow-up and then close out the whole exchange with targeted praise that is like giving them a gold star. You might praise their grit or perseverance, their mastery of the skill, or the simple, fantastic correctness of their answer.

Now back to my takeaways and what felt so empowering about this section of TLAC 2.0.

  1. How good must it feel for a student who got the answer wrong, to then turn around and answer a series of similar questions correctly? And then to have your teacher praise that turn around explicitly? That feels great.
It’s not rocket science, I know, but similar to Elisa’s reflections on Culture of Error last week, it’s so easy to just hope for the correct answer and overlook the profound experience our students can have simply by voicing a misunderstanding, fixing it, and having us genuinely recognize it.

 

And think of the wonders it can do for your classroom culture! Having some management issues? Try offering those kiddos some of these powerful moments instead of that extra detention.

 

  1. Allow students to ask clarifying questions instead of saying ‘I don’t know.’ This was referenced very briefly in the chapter, but really stuck with me. Instead of waiting until students say “I don’t know” to hold them accountable, train them from the beginning to monitor their understanding and advocate for themselves by asking those clarifying questions before we even have a chance to stump them with a question they don’t know the answer to. Now that’s empowering.

 

The training might look like having students talk at their tables and teach each other whatever the teacher just went over, pull out their misunderstandings, and then formulate written clarifying questions to ask the teacher. While it would take a while in the beginning, once students were used to monitoring their own learning, imagine the feeling of empowerment for the kids when they never have to say “I don’t know” because they’re too busy identifying missteps and asking clarifying questions.

 
 
At the end of the day, what so resonated with me from this chapter was not just how important it is to make sure students are learning and getting the right answer, but that they know they’re learning and feel the empowerment of that learning. I get goose bumps just thinking about it!
 
Coming up in our Takeaways from TLAC 2.0 series:

  • Collegiate Format – communicating in a way that conveys “the worthiness of their ideas.”
  • Ratio – getting students to think more, write more, and discuss more.
  • Checking for Understanding – doing it well to get the data you need.

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