When it comes to parenting, typical instruction involves you verbally telling your children what you expected. If your expectations were clearly stated, why is it, then, that your kids often still don’t know what to do or just don’t do it?
The same challenge exists in the classroom for our teachers. The good news is that the method we at the ATT have taught teachers to reinforce instruction modeling can work at home as well.
When it comes to addressing this issue in the classroom, the Responsive Classroom––an evidence-based approach to teaching––developed a 7-Step Method called Interactive Modeling to effectively introduce and reinforce procedures. Several ATT teachers learned this method in depth last year as part of a program to train them in Station Rotation.
Last fall ATT and REACH staff introduced the Station Rotation Teaching Initiative to 11 motivated ACHDS and YTT teachers, who joined group instruction and benefitted from classroom observations and individual coaching. Station Rotation Teaching creates flexible learning groups in the classroom using a variety of learning modalities.
This ground breaking nation rotation initiative can benefits parents in the home as well.
Rabbi Yitzchak Lurie has adapted this 7-Step Method of Interactive Modeling for use not just in the classroom, but in our homes as well. All seven steps are meant to be done in immediate succession – all in a matter of 3-5 minutes.
Step #1– Describe why you are introducing the procedure, and what it is
Step #2 – Model the procedure
This doesn’t just mean showing your appreciation after you eat a meal and cleaning up after yourself. Rather, it means to actually show your children what they should do after they eat a meal. For example, you can model the procedure by acting it out:
“Chaim, would you be Mommy for a minute, and I’ll pretend to be you? Come, sit down in my chair while I sit down in your chair. I’ll take my last bite of the meal.”
After swapping seats and taking a last bite –
Parent (pretending to be the child) says a bracha acharona (or for younger children, thank you Hashem for the delicious food), and then (while looking at the child), “Thank you Mommy for dinner. The food was delicious.”
Parent then gets up to clear her plate, throwing out what needs to be thrown out and putting the dirty dishes in the sink.
Actually showing our children the behaviors that we desire speaks a multitude more than words alone.
Step #3 – Ask your children what they noticed (about your modeling)
The goal is for them to be very specific and articulate all of the behavioral expectations that you laid out in Step #1 and modeled in Step #2.
“What did you notice about what I did after my last bite of food?” You want your children to say something along the lines of – I noticed that you said a bracha acharona to thank Hashem, and then you also thanked Mommy for the delicious food. You then got up from your chair and cleared your plate, throwing out what needs to be thrown out and putting the dirty dishes in the sink.
Most children will not include all that detail on the first try so your next strategy is to ask some leading questions to get them there. However, it is important that you don’t give it all away. You want them to come up with the details which, in most cases, means modeling again.
Step #4 – Ask your children to model the same behavior
The goal is for them to immediately practice the actions that they verbalized in Step #3. As part of teaching them this procedure, the children should model it/practice it immediately after Steps #1, 2 & 3.
“Who wants to show us what to do after you finish your last bite of food?”
Step #5 – Ask your children what they noticed (about their brother’s/sister’s modeling)
Almost identical to Step #3, this is one of the keys to success in making the procedure stick! You want your children to be able to articulate details about what they saw when their sibling modeled the procedure. It’s not just about hearing what they’re supposed to do (Step #1), watching what they’re supposed to do (Steps #2 & 4), practicing what they’re supposed to do (Step #4) – but the children need to be able to verbalize the specifics about what they’re supposed to do (Steps #3 & 5).
As we said in Step #3, many children will not include all the detail on the first try so your next strategy is to ask some leading questions to get them there.
To continue our example:
“What did you notice about what Chaim did after his last bite of food?”
Some leading questions-
After Chaim’s last bite of food, did he talk to Hashem? What did he say?Did he say anything else? Did Chaim do anything after he threw out the garbage on his plate?
Step #6 – Have your children practice the procedure
Every child responsible for the procedure needs to have an opportunity to practice – whether in the “modeling step” (#4) or in the “practicing step” (#6).
Once your children understand what’s expected of them both descriptively, now it’s time to make it stick. They should practice so that it becomes natural and automatic.
Step #7 – Give specific praise
As your children are practicing the procedure (Step #6), give them very specific praise. Stay away from only using general sentiments like Great job! or You did it! Instead, you want to re-articulate the same details as part of your specific praise.
To continue our example:
“You did a great job! You said a beautiful bracha acharona and then you thanked me for the delicious food. You also did a great job when you cleared your plate, throwing out what needs to be thrown out and putting the dirty dishes in the sink! Overall, I think you’ve really learned how to show your appreciation to Hashem and Mommy and to act with derech eretz by cleaning up after yourself. I’m so proud of you!”
Once you get the hang of this, all seven steps are meant to be done in immediate succession – all in a matter of 3-5 minutes. It will take us some time to understand each of the steps, but once we, as parents, understand the process, the application is meant to be relatively fluid. Then, following the initial teaching of the procedure through the 7 steps, it will still be important to review periodically – either by thoughtfully selecting certain steps or by repeating the whole process from time to time.