I continually look for ways to enhance my teaching practices. As part of my ongoing personal educational development this year I implemented a TRU (Teaching for Robust Understanding) Framework. This teaching framework empowers educators to hone in on their teaching practices and ensure that what we do in our classroom is in line with our intended vision and objectives. Here are some insights from integrating TRU into my teaching, which will hopefully resonate with my language teacher colleagues.
What is TRU?
Alan H. Schoenfeld, a Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, founded the Teaching for Robust Understanding Project. His goal is to distill the vast literature on teaching and learning into a coherent, usable framework. The TRU Framework encompasses five focal dimensions:
TRU in Language Classroom
Let’s look at how the TRU Framework can be useful and effective in the context of language education, using examples from my own vision framework. My Vision Framework is titled The Five Dimensions Engaging and Purposeful Classroom. Each of the 5 categories is tailored to my overarching language teaching goal.
- feel confident, motived and valued
- are engaged and learning is purposeful
- see the content and learning as relevant to their lives
Here are how I concretely articulate these goals and intentions in each of the TRU framework areas:
“In my classroom, students are not passive recipients of information. Instead, they are active contributors to conversations about language proficiency and cultural nuances. They understand the purpose behind their learning and take ownership of their linguistic journey.”
Questions you to ponder as you look at this in your own classroom: How can you create an environment where students feel empowered to contribute to conversations about language proficiency and cultural understanding? In what ways can you encourage students to take ownership over their language learning journey?
“Classroom activity structures provide opportunities for students to become knowledgeable, flexible, and resourceful disciplinary thinkers. Topics are relevant to learners, motivating them to make connections and develop productive disciplinary habits of mind.”
Questions you to ponder as you look at this in your own classroom: How can you align your lesson plans with topics that are relevant and motivating for your students? In what ways can you create activities that foster connections and develop productive language habits of mind?
“Students have opportunities to grapple with and make sense of important language ideas. They are challenged in ways that provide room and support for growth, cultivating a mindset where challenges are seen as opportunities for learning.”
Questions you to ponder as you look at this in your own classroom: How can you provide challenging tasks that support students in making sense of complex language ideas? In what ways can you guide students through productive struggles, helping them see challenges as opportunities for growth?
“Classroom activity structures invite and support the active engagement of all students. Individual students are involved in meaningful ways and do not doubt their valued presence in the classroom.”
Questions you to ponder as you look at this in your own classroom: What strategies can you implement to ensure that every student is actively engaged in language learning activities? How can you create a classroom environment where all students feel their contributions are meaningful?
“Classroom activities elicit student thinking, and subsequent interactions respond to those ideas. Specific feedback is central to formative assessment practice, guiding students in deepening their language comprehension.”
Questions you to ponder as you look at this in your own classroom: How can you design activities that elicit and showcase students’ language proficiency and understanding? In what ways can you provide specific and constructive feedback to guide students in deepening their language comprehension?
Your Vision Framework
As a language teacher, you can use the TRU Framework to create your own vision framework tailored to your classroom. Consider creating a framework that aligns with the 5 TRU dimensions. Keep these key elements of your vision handy and in mind as you create curriculum and teach. I know that they help to keep me on track and focused on my goals, vision and objectives. Here is what my TRU Framework looks like with all the details in one place for easy access.
- Schoenfeld, A. H., & the Teaching for Robust Understanding Project. (2016). An Introduction to the Teaching for Robust Understanding (TRU) Framework. Berkeley, CA: Graduate School of Education.