~ by Christine Gough
How often have these words slipped out between gritted teeth? “What are you THINKING?!?” Or maybe, “What ARE you thinking??” Better yet, “What are YOU thinking?!” But this year, the phrase has taken a turn. “What are you thinking?” has become an invitation, not a threat veiled as a question. In the classroom, I have begun to use a strategy with my students of invitation to be metacognitive…to think about our thinking and go deeper with the texts we are reading. We start our reflections with what we noticed, what we see, what we wonder about, what we are feeling. We think about character’s actions and notice patterns and traits. Students are connecting stories from their own lives to the narratives of the characters in the books we read. Illustrations become a jumping off point for observations, to think deeper and to notice.
We remind each other daily that REAL READING is a mixture of the text paired with our thinking…text alone doesn’t have the heart that comes from thinking deeply about the words. As we read text, we stop and put up our thinking bubble, face in, ready to share our thoughts about the text. We pause. We think. We share. We notice. We feel. We see. It has become a class norm and the class culture…an expectation that text is more than words and that our discussion together is spent in the business of taking time for deep thought and listening.
When I slip home, though, out of the classroom, it becomes exponentially harder to maintain this mindset. “What are you thinking?” reverts back to a mom-yelled rhetorical statement, not a welcoming question. Where does the mental strength, the time and the perseverance come from to pair this thinking with our parenting? We are called to be question askers. To be consistent at looking and noticing and truly seeing. And more than that, to ask our children, with genuine hearts, what they are thinking and to listen.
What would happen if we all had giant thought bubbles to hold around our faces everyday? Would people sit up, take notice and listen more readily? How different would our homes, our relationships and our world be if we took time for real thinking? Real listening? That perfect intersection of vulnerability that gets to the heart of real communication.
Try one of these thinking stems and see what might follow…it’s not magic, but it does lead to REAL conversation. As we look at the person of Christ we see this again and again. Christ asks the questions. “What do you need?”, “Why do you doubt?”, “What do you think?”, “What do you want me to do for you?”, “Why are you thinking these things?”, “Why are you so afraid?”, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?”, “Do you want to get well?
Christ, being fully divine, had no need to ask the questions. Asking the deeper questions had a bigger purpose. A chance to turn the tables allowing for someone to notice. To see. To feel. To think. To wonder. Not to be told, to be put in their place, to be shut down and out.
The question is ours…to ask and to answer, “What are you thinking?”
*Special thanks to my friend Hillary who shared the life changing book and ideas shared here (Comprehension Connections by Tanny McGregor )