“I cannot teach anyone anything. I can only make them think.” - Socrates.
If you could trigger thinking in children, you have introduced them to the first step of metacognition. Mostly the thinking process is concealed because people have little understanding of how they think. Concisely we can say - thinking is an internal conversation weighing up different viewpoints. And learning is just a consequence of thinking.
Here is a little story on how metacognition can help and how we are already using it in our classroom. Certainly, we can refine and improve our strategies.
A student named Shiva took admission in grade 3 under the mentorship of Ms Priya. Shiva was a quiet and shy child. He was a loner, and to make him sit at a place was a nightmare for Ms Priya. He used to score low in almost all the subjects. But could solve grade 7 algebraic expressions on the board.
Does he remind you of Einstein?
Ms Priya thought and devised a roadmap to bring change in Shiva.
- Connect with the Parent: Despite her repeated efforts, Ms Priya could not make Shiva gain any interest in studies or sports. Sensing some family problems, Ms Priya invited his father, Mr Raman, for an interaction. Mr Raman came with his bullets ready, to which Ms Priya chose simply to listen and observe. She sensed a disruption in the family which led Shiva caged into his thought bubble.
- Name it to tame it- Ms Priya started spending time with Shiva during lunch breaks, talking and sharing. When she felt Shiva has started opening, she took his storytelling sessions. Shiva used to set a narrative to which Ms Priya gave names, slowly Shiva started naming his feelings and emotions. And then he started illustrating the incidences which made him upset. Ms Priya knew that Shiva was running away from his feelings to stay normal, but this eventually made him rigid. The whole-brain approach of Ms Priya helped Shiva to connect with his inner unknown feelings and develop horizontal integration between the right and left brain. - By term 2, Shiva started becoming friends with his classmates.
- Ringa Ringa Roses: As Ms Priya could not get enough help from Shiva’s parents, she took other subject teachers and the H.M into confidence and shared about Shiva, H.M and all the subject mentors held each other’s hands, sat, and discussed ways to help Shiva. Keeping an account of Shiva’s work, his illustrations, his behaviour with peers and every minute detail was penned by the teachers as anecdotes. This gave teachers enough to support planning their strategies. And now it worked better. - A team is always stronger than an individual.
- Responsibility – The day Shiva heard his name as “The Word Wall Monitor”, his face lit with joy. This was the first time Ms Priya could see all his teeth and a spark in his eyes. She understood, children need encouragement and validation. By now, Shiva has understood how he can make friends, why sharing lunch is so much fun, how to ask for help, and how to help someone with his homework. Also, by now, he could analyse that he could not understand few topics because of how they were taught. - She learned that he understands best by writing. So he started taking notes, and that helped.
- Budding scientist – Shiva made a model on the flow of electricity using conductors in grade 3. This amazed every teacher, and he was lauded for his work. Slowly Shiva realised that he can understand everything which has logic. - He started connecting even grammar topics with examples and logic.
And slowly, we saw a bud unfurling and blooming.
Now Shiva is in grade 5, and the genius is scoring satisfactory grades but doesn’t leave a chance to amaze the audience with his writings and models. He loves to write now and can express and manage his emotions well.
Our HM, Ms Priya, the subject mentors, didi - bhaiyya, and even Shiva’s classmates have contributed.
The way that we learn information is determined by the processes that we put in place, and if you are analysing how you are learning the information or how you are thinking about it, you are there. Here if Ms Priya had employed her strategies in any random fashion, it wouldn’t have worked. So for every child, there is a unique formula, which either he knows, or you may know, decoding the formula by the child is metacognition.