Designs coaches and
workshop facilitators are frequently asked the question “What if ____________
(fill in any Developmental
Designs strategy here)
Reflecting in a systematic way is a great way to proceed. Solutions
are likely to emerge, and there are several tools you can use to guide your
- Three rings of
the engaged student: supportive community, motivating instruction,
- Four adolescent needs: relationship, autonomy, competence, and fun
- Teacher mindsets: active, objective, and growth
Analyze your teaching practices in each of the three rings. Question to self: Which one contains a
Developmental Designs strategy that I’m not using, or need to
use better to resolve my problem?
For example, in
the supportive community ring, you may find that student peer-to-peer
relationships are weak and could be bolstered through the practices of Power of
Play and acknowledgments.
social-emotional skills ring, you may realize that you are using Pathways to
Self-control (the reactive toolbox) very well, but have neglected to
proactively set your expectations regarding student behavior. Modeling your
expectations and holding student endorsement conversations would make the whole
behavior management system run better.
Perhaps you are
building great relationships and managing behavior very well, but the problem
lies in the third ring (motivating instruction). Your timing of the delivery of
new information is off, and by applying primacy-recency theory (part of the larger
Developmental Designs practice of orchestration), you might solve
Many times, a handful of students, or even
a single student, can make implementing a Developmental Designs practice much more difficult. By looking at student behavior through
the lens of the four needs (relationship, autonomy, fun, and competence), a
realistic solution can emerge. Question to self: Which of the four needs is
this student meeting in ways that are inappropriate, and how can I change the dynamic
so s/he gets that same need met in my classroom in a school-appropriate way?
For example, a
student may be engaging you and other students in power struggles. She has a
valid need for power, but she is trying to fulfill that need in a way that
prevents you from managing wholegroup conversations effectively. By figuring
out a way to meet her need for power in a positive way during class
discussions, you might turn her around. Try allowing her to observe the process
and report back to the group at the end, or give her the task of pulling name
sticks to call on students.
Educator Matthew Christen writes
about how he used ideas from psychologist Carol Dweck’s book Mindset to help a student change from using a crippling fixed mindset
to a more healthy growth mindset. Teachers can explore their own mindsets when
a Developmental Designs practice is not working. Question to self:
Which of the three mindsets do I need to tap into in order to solve my problem?
A fixed teacher
mindset about a practice can be that practice’s doom. If, for example, a
teacher thinks, “I’m good at using take a break,” or, “take a break works,”
that teacher is in for trouble. What happens when it starts to break down? What
happens if he starts using it without setting it up properly, or overuses it,
lost in the false presumption that it will work? (I’ve been there, and know how
painful this can be!) If he adopts the opposite fixed mindset -” Take a break
won’t work,” or, “I can’t use take a break effectively”- he may not even try
it, may use it without confidence, or may use it inconsistently, and students
are sure to pick up on that. If, on the other hand, he works from a growth mindset-“Take
a break can work if I set it up properly so my students take advantage of it
and if I stay vigilant about maintaining its value in the students’ eyes”-and
then works on it each day throughout the year, it will work in most cases.
Hagedorn is a Developmental
and writer for Origins.