Tuesday, 20 November 2012

3-Legged Stools...and Relationships

In recent weeks, I've listened to Dr. Scott Miller and John Abbott both use the analogy of the 3-legged stool to discuss their fields.  In Dr. Miller's case, it was in the context of therapy, while in Abbott's case, it was in relation to our education system.

First of all, I couldn't help but notice the similarities between them.  Consider these points from Dr. Miller as he outlined various research facts from the field of therapy/counseling:

*  80% of a counselor's caseload involves clients who are basically being managed and for whom there is no discernible effect

*  On the issue of why people did not seek the services of a counselor, a lack of confidence in the outcome of the service accounted for 78% of the responses

*  Technique makes the smallest difference in the outcome

*  For the clients that are positively affected by treatment (13%), the following factors were measured: 
  •  Model and technique of treatment  - 8%
  •  Allegiance factors - that is the practitioner's belief in what they are doing - 20%-30%
  •  Alliance factors - that is the relationship and dynamics between the therapist and client - 30%-60%
Here's a video of Scott Miller talking about measuring the alliance/relationship with clients and an app that they have put out on it:

"We have known for years...that the relationship between the client, the consumer, and the provider of care is predictive of outcome.  We also know that if consumers are asked, and able to provide feedback about the nature of the alliance, positive and negative, that those consumers are much more likely to stay until they achieve a good outcome in treatment and we have better outcomes as a result." (Miller, 2006).  

Miller uses a 3-legged stool to show how an alliance is established with a client:
   In other words, the alliance between the therapist and client is through a positive relationship, based on knowing and discussing the preferences of the client - not the preferences of the therapist

 John Abbott also uses a 3-legged stool based on Relationships to describe a healthy educational partnership:

It is that balance between competency and caring that both professions require in order to best serve their clients/students.  I suspect the current paradigm is that the "smartest" practitioner must be the best teacher/therapist - while the research clearly points to the aforementioned balance.

Here's a video from Abbott's "Born to Learn" website that demonstrates learning from the perspective of the student"

In my mind, there are two ways to establish an alliance with students:  Get to know them and incorporate their input.

Have a great week,

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Telling Stories : Pedagogical Narrations

"So that's what reflective practice looks like!"  

This is what I found myself saying last spring when I attended a workshop called "Investigating Quality" at the ECEBC conference in Richmond.  I was watching Kim Atkinson and Danielle Davis demonstrate a practice called "pedagogical narration" whereby they openly describe a moment in their practice among peers.

More specifically, the educator tells a story - often accompanied by images of the child/children - among colleagues who then ask questions or make comments about the story.  This is not a problem-solving process.  It is a pure reflection that is articulated and discussed among colleagues to gain insight into children as well as how we interact with them.  It is about finding the questions, not the answers.  This kind of practice is strongly supported in the BC Eearly Learning Framework.

In my teacher training year, the term "reflective practitioner" was understood to be a solitary process that was very general in nature.  While useful, this practice does not engender the synergy and connections that arise from a collaborative reflection that has a structure to it and that is borne out of observation.

"Being in the moment", being present enough to truly "notice" what is happening around you takes practice - and lots of it.  How many people do you know who can truly live in the moment?

After that workshop in Richmond, I approached Kim and Danielle and asked if they would be interested in coming to Fort St. John - and they were!  This conversation led to a workshop that we attended last week with several community ECE colleagues as well as Kindergarten teachers and district staff.  Most importantly, it has led to the development of a collaborative group that is meeting several times this year and sharing their pedagogical narrations.  

Kim and Danielle come from ECE backgrounds and have teamed up under an initiative called "Images of Learning Project" where they present this narrative approach to viewing children as "co-constructors" of knowledge.

One of the most important elements that I took away from our workshop with them last week was the concept that young children are not the citizens of the future, they are "citizens now" - competent individuals that don't simply follow our linear understanding of them.

Great workshop.  Have a great week.