Thursday, August 13, 2009

Teaching Tip: Debriefing

Summer semester ended last week. I want to share the most memorable thing that I learned over the past eight weeks. Of course, I learned a ton of stuff...but this stuck out to me because it's such an important, simple opportunity that adults often miss when teaching young kids about life. This opportunity is the practice of debriefing events that occur throughout life.

Brief, execute, debrief. The military uses this strategy to assess individuals and allow them to talk about whatever just happened. It ought to be used with kids as well. So often teachers (by teacher I mean anyone who has some role in the life of a child) tell students what to do and how to do it, but how often do we talk about how the experience felt afterward? How did it go? It allows the children to process an event or experience while under the guidance of an adult. This opens the door to conversation, sharing, and growth.

This is the process that was given to me in my class for what debriefing with children (after a classroom activity) includes:
  1. How did you feel after the activity?
  2. Recall important events.
  3. What did you learn?
  4. What could've happened differently if people acted differently?
  5. Any modification suggestions for next time?

Think about how often adults just ignore certain experiences because it happens to us so frequently (i.e., thunderstorms, homeless man on the off-ramp, where stuff in the grocery store comes from, the death of a pet, etc). These things have often never happened to kids before and need to process these common events with some guidance from adults.

The same thing happens in the classroom. During an activity, the kids often think about other people around them. Each child also learns something different than the other students, providing an opportunity to talk about seeing events from different perspectives. I know that I'll try to use this strategy every day when I am a teacher. It creates openness and comfort with the kids, knowing that they can come to me with their feelings and opinions.

Riedlblog labels: Kids, Teaching, Life updates