We have all had that moment in the classroom when three-year-old Connor asks us for help. “It won’t fit!” he exclaims as he tries to put the square puzzle piece in the round spot. We have two options on how to respond:
Option 1: "That piece fits right there!” we can say, pointing to the square .
Option 2: We can scaffold by providing a hint, “Try putting the puzzle piece in another spot, and see what happens! Look closely at the shape. I know you can figure it out!”
In option 1 we did very little to facilitate his learning; we just told him the answer. In option 2 we did not provide an answer, instead we “coached” him through the challenge so that he could arrive at the correct answer on his own.
Now imagine you are in the middle of MMCI session 4 and you have just finished watching guided video 1. You have given your participants time to finish writing their notes, and you now have two options. You can go indicator by indicator presenting or facilitating knowledge, or you have option 2. You can open the discussion at the dimension level and help scaffold or coach them to understanding how their observations fit into the correct indicator, and how they can apply it to their own classrooms. Let’s look at the following example:
Option 1: You ask, “What did we see for flexibility and student focus? What about student expression? Was there any restriction of movement? Were the children given any chance for responsibility or autonomy? How did the children respond?Any questions before we move on to our next video?"
Option 2: You ask, “What specific evidence did you observe for Regard for Student Perspectives? ... Great observation, I saw that too! Looking at your Dimensions Guide what indicator does your observation best fit under and why? What other evidence did you write down for Regard for Student Perspectives? ... That’s correct! What impact do the teacher’s interactions have on the children? How do the children respond during this interaction? How would changing this interaction have a more positive effect on the child? What makes this indicator easy or difficult to do in your classrooms? How are you already doing this in your classrooms? How could you enhance what you are already doing, and incorporate more throughout the day? If you were in this classroom how might you have done things differently? Why? What specific steps can you take incorporate more of these interactions more frequently throughout your day?”
If you guessed that option 2 was more effective, you are right! It is quicker and easier just to facilitate and provide knowledge, just like telling Connor where to put his puzzle piece. As MMCI instructors we have a vast amount of information, knowledge, and experience that we want to pass on to our teachers, in a short amount of time. However, taking the time to ensure that we are scaffolding their learning to understand how they can increase what they are already doing with more depth, duration, and frequency, helps them to comprehend the impact of their interactions on the children. We want them to leave the MMCI session feeling inspired by strategies and ideas to enhance what they are already doing—not feeling discouraged and thinking that they are starting at zero.
Detect, Reflect, Connect
When leading your guided video discussions try the “detect, reflect, connect” approach. First open your discussions for them to detect the effective interactions in the video. Next, have them reflect on the impact of the interactions on the children, Finally, invite your group to connect what they have learned to the interactions they are already having and how they can enhance those interactions. Let’s try this strategy with option 2 from above:
- “What specific evidence did you observe for Regard for Student Perspectives?”
- “Great observation; I saw that too! Looking at your Dimensions Guide what indicator does your observation best fit under and why?”
- “What other evidence did you write down for Regard for Student Perspectives?”
- “That’s correct! What impact do the teacher’s interactions have on the children?” “How do the children respond in this interaction? “
- “How would changing this interaction have a more positive effect on the child?"
- “What makes this indicator easy or difficult to do in your classrooms?
- “How are you already doing this in your classrooms?”
- “How could you enhance what you are already doing, and incorporate more throughout the day?”
- “If you were in this classroom how might you have done things differently? Why?”
- “What specific steps can you take incorporate more of these interactions more frequently throughout your day?”
A participant leaving an MMCI session should feel empowered and enlightened. This is accomplished by leading your session through coaching rather than facilitating. So as you're leading your sessions, be mindful and ask yourself, “Am I standing here giving knowledge, or am I coaching them to understand their impact on children?”