Cultures of Thinking (CoT)
Modeling: To display, demonstrate, or draw attention to as an example for others to follow or imitate.
Modeling (verb): As a culture sharper, modeling operates explicitly and implicitly. Explicitly, teachers (parents) model processes and strategies in a way that makes the adult's own thinking visible for the learner (child). Implicitly, adult actions are constantly on display for children. They see the adult's passions, interest, and authenticity as thinkers and leaders of themselves. Positively or negatively, children soak up the messages the adults model.
As educators, a critical element of learning revolves around this notion of modeling. Students can learn many things from a book, or the internet, yet, through purposeful modeling of one's thinking and learning, students emulate the thinking being modeled. When a teacher reads a book, they model oral reading skills, tone, thinking and various ways a reader makes meaning from the words. Skilled educators can make a story come alive and students learn from this journey. "In observing models, whether informally or formally, learners have the opportunity to "take on the other," try out new roles and behaviors, and apprentice into new ways of the acting and thinking" (Ritchhart, 2015, p. 136).
Yet, Ron Ritchhart (2015) also cautions educators, "Too much modeling of skills, procedures, or actions can lead to rote learning and imitation, and can inhibit creativity and original thinking" (Haston, 2007). As with many things, finding balance between modeling and exploring is key. Formal, informal, ongoing and embedded modeling, all have their place in the classroom. As a cultural sharper, Ritchhart (2015) claims, that is the informal modeling that has the most power. It unveils the true feelings and thinking. Instead of hiding our imperfections or weaknesses, adults can open themselves up authentically to their students (children) and show them what it means to be a life long learner.