Powerful Interactions

February 13, 2012 at 4:03 pm 2 comments

By Judy Jablon and Amy Laura Dombro

Teachers matter. What they decide to say and do each day as they interact with children (or don’t) guides children’s development and learning in all domains.   For this reason, we and our friend and co-author, Charlotte Stetson, realized that the teacher had to be at the center of our new book,Powerful Interactions: How to Connect With Children to Extend Their Learning NAEYC, 2011)We focus on the teacher because it is the teacher who makes a difference in children’s lives today and in the future.

Teachers and children interact with each other all day long.  Most of these everyday interactions are good enough– they do no harm.  And then there’s another category of interactions – Powerful Interactions (PI). These are the interactions in which a teacher intentionally connects with a child to extend her/his learning.

Not every interaction teachers have with children can be — or even needs to be — an interaction that promotes their learning, but research tells us that most of our everyday interactions aren’t all that effective when we consider the reason children are in school – to learn.

In Powerful Interactions we describe three steps for teachers (and teacher educators) that will transform an everyday interaction into a Powerful Interaction (PI).  Though we describe each separately, in reality they overlap and may repeat many times during an interaction:

Step One:  Be Present.  In the first step of a Powerful Interaction, the teacher pauses before the interaction begins to think about and decide if this is the time for a PI.  It is this pause to prepare that makes a Powerful Interaction purposeful rather than automatic.  The Be Present step gives the teacher permission to take a moment to think.

Step Two:  Connect.  In a present frame of mind, the teacher is ready to connect with the child.  By personally connecting with the child, a teacher communicates, “I notice you. I’m interested in you. I want to spend some time with you.”  This often missed and vital step is important because this connection reactivates the feelings of comfort, security, and trust that already exist between the child and the teacher making it the perfect time for a teacher to teach and a child to learn.

Step Three:  Extend.  With the connection between them, the teacher stretches the child’s thinking and knowledge a little step forward in a way that is just right for him.

They say when you put something into words, you give it life. Being aware of interactions and staying motivated to improve them are keys to having Powerful Interactions.

Teachers who succeed in creating more Powerful Interactions in their classrooms are reflective. They continually ask themselves questions and engage in conversations with others about: What do I want to convey to children?  What did I do?  Why did I do it that way?  How did the child respond?  What can I do to make my interaction more effective next time?

A conversation is beginning across the country about Powerful Interactions.  Please join in. We hope you will share your comments, questions, and insights with us and others at www.powerfulinteractions.com and/or on our Facebook page.

Entry filed under: Child Centered, classroom management, classrooms, constructivism, curriculum, integrated curricula, our teachers, philosophy, professional development, Progressive Education, social-emotional learning.

Fear, Resiliency, and Tenacity Invitation to New York City Alums to Attend a Salon

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Yulianti Siantayani  |  February 14, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Nice idea. I would tshare and try to all teachers working with me. Thank you.

  • 2. Jim Clay  |  March 14, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    We are using this book with our teachers right now – they connect instantly with it and it tells them what they should and can do. Thanks.

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