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Making Thinking Explicit

Teacher candidates need to hear the reasoning behind decisions you make.

“Every single thing I do – every single thing I do – they’re gonna ask me 'Why?'… Veteran teachers don’t often think about why they’re doing those things... It’s not just about helping somebody else learn how to teach. It is really reflecting on what you do, why you do it, and is there a better way to do it?” —Mentor 2018


A 3-minute guide to making your thinking explicit

Tools to Use Today

Check out the guide to this practice and tools you can print and use together.

  • Mentor’s guide: Making your thinking explicit

    Making your thinking explicit involves describing the reasoning behind the instructional decisions you make, or the ways you respond to professional situations. You can think of it as pulling back the curtain—allowing the teacher candidate to see your internal, otherwise invisible thought processes at work....

  • Tool: Mentor pocket guide for making thinking explicit

    This one-pager provides quick suggestions about how a mentor might make their thinking explicit, and about what kinds of ideas. Download PDF > Mentor’s pocket guide for making your thinking explicit Download Word version > Mentor’s pocket guide for making your thinking explicit  

So, What's This All About?

A short video to show you the basics of the practice, examples from classroom life, and when to use it.

Why is it important?

TCs get plenty of chances to observe what is happening in your classroom and around the school. They’ll see you make moves with students or how you organize activities, and they can learn from that, but the learning opportunity is limited if you don’t share your reasoning about the choices you make. For example, if they see you re-arranging student groups in the middle of a lab, they have no way of knowing if someone was misbehaving or if an English Language Learner was being paired up with a slightly more advanced ELL who spoke the same home language. If your mind is a black box, the TC will lose out on making sense of your decision—they need to hear what professional reasoning sounds like, even when it is hard to articulate.


We’d appreciate your feedback, the site and its resources are works in progress.