So, Premier Dan has appointed you as teacher for all subjects in your home school but actually you have never done any teacher training, you might be feeling a little bit overwhelmed right now, especially as you don’t have any real idea of how well or badly you are doing. If you are feeling just a little bit stressed, join the club.
First, take a deep breath.
Next, are there some simple procedures to follow that are going to make the whole exercise easier, more effective and allow you to confidently relax into your new role. And as a bonus, the model I am sharing can easily be adapted for running meetings, preparing for interviews, doing presentations, or as a foundation for train the trainer programs.
The system is one that I picked up from Colin Rose and his books, Accelerated Learning for the 21st Century and it’s summary in the workbook MASTER IT Faster. This became the foundation of a number of training programs, but also a much-appreciated personal practice as I find the mnemonic endlessly adaptable.
If you are homeschooling, you are most likely time-poor, so I will be as succinct as I can.
The goal is to offer you a process for conducting your home-schooling which will give you a sense of completion and confidence that you are approaching the task with intelligence and a proven pedagogical method. As evidence for the efficacy of the methodology, I can reference independent research that was carried out on a version of the system that was being used in British primary schools. The research demonstrated the expected results regarding the increased success of the students, but they also discovered that the teachers were much happier as they had a much clearer sense of when they had successfully completed a learning cycle. If this was the result for university-trained teachers, then there is hope for us all.
The mnemonic is MASTER and it works like this:
Mindset for Success: Ensure that you and your audience, in this case, school-age children, are in the right Mindspace for learning. This will include establishing clear routines, healthy breakfasts, some playtime to burn of excess energy for younger children, an attractive and prepared environment for the learning, and I am sure you can think of many more aspects. Mindset for you might be to have your phone off, to have already cleared your important emails, to have let your work colleagues know that you are not available between 10 and 12 each weekday. Use the MASTER home-schooling template to plan your session and use it as a living document as you find ways to improve your school.
Acquire the Facts: Essentially, what is the factual information that you intend to share and how will that sharing be realised? What is the big picture? Can you chunk it down? Can you include mind maps and involve the learners in creating mind maps? I am not a fan of trying to work out whether someone is a visual, auditory or kinaesthetic learner, simply because I will always be trying to include all those modes in any teaching or training effort. So let’s try thinking about it with VAK always in mind – What am I doing that is visual? What am I doing that is auditory? What am I doing that is kinaesthetic? Skipping to teach counting or times tables is an obvious example that ticks all the VAK boxes. So does telling a good story.
Search out the Meaning: I associated Search out the Meaning with connecting the learning to something important to the learner. Strictly speaking, this could come under Mindset, but I think it is important enough to have its own slot in the system. How can this lesson connect to the system of knowledge that is important to this person? How can we use questioning and conversation to find overlaps of significance between what we are teaching and what is important to our learners, and which will tap into and build upon their innate curiosity?
Trigger the memory: How are you managing the learning such that your learner will retain at least the most important elements? Obvious elements are repetition, building the learning into a story, turning the learning into a game, building pictures, memory maps, laughter, and fun. Can you always complete the sentence, “This lesson will be memorable because…..”?
Exhibit the knowledge: How will your learner demonstrate to you that they have absorbed the content of the lesson? Recitation? A quiz, turned into a fun game? Let them take the role of the teacher and repeat the lesson to you? This should be a significant allocation of the time available.
Reflect on the learning cycle: pretty straightforward really, this is your continuous improvement reflex – after each session, just take a deep breath, relax, and think about what went well and what fell or felt flat, and feed that forward to your next session.
This MASTER system has obvious application in my Train the Trainer programs, or in similar skill sets, such as Presentation Skills, but I use it in more mundane settings and have done so until it becomes second nature. Typically, if I have a meeting, I will spend a few moments in preparation, and I will check in with myself and do a quick scan. What is my Mindset like, do I have doubts, am I feeling confident and positive and prepared, and am I expressing that state, or am I expressing self-doubt, anxiety and nervousness? And what is the likely Mindset of my audience? If this is a visit with a potential client, are they likely to be defensive, do they know me, is this a cold call or similar or am I building on a pre-established relationship? How will my audience Aquire the facts that I am delivering? What are they, are they clear, well packaged, well known to me? What was the result when I Searched out the meaning from the viewpoint of my audience? Why is this material and this visit of interest to them? How does it align with their organisation or serve their clients? Next, how can I Trigger their memory and make sure that what I am presenting sticks? A well thought out presentation, brochure, relatable story, association of my material with current problems that they are trying to resolve? And how can I get this audience to Exhibit the knowledge that I have imparted? What questions can I ask, or how can I steer the conversation, to ensure that they have absorbed the information and appreciated its relevance to their issues? Finally, after the meeting, I will Reflect on the learning cycle – what went well, what didn’t work so well, and how can I improve in the future.
This is the bare bones of a teaching system and the invitation is for you to develop your own strategies to fill in the blanks. But the promise is that if you can get the right mental state for you and your children, be clear about the content and outcome you are looking for, engage the learner in ways that have meaning for them, think about how to make the learning memorable, ensure that they get a chance to demonstrate that they have absorbed the learning, and insist that you self-reflect on how it could have gone better after each session, you can relax because you have almost certainly done a great job, you will improve every time, and you are building the foundations for a lifelong love of learning in your school, and you are developing your own mastery of a very useful life hack.
If you are lucky enough to be able to find the books, there is a lot more that Colin has to say. Here, e.g., is his mind map summary of Mindset for Success:
You can find out more about Colin Rose and the resources that he has available here.
Here are the headings from the template that I might use when planning a team training event:
MASTER Training Event:
- This training consisted of…
Mindset for Success:
- I ensured that the team was in the right mindset for learning by…
- I ensured that I was in the right mindset for delivering training by…
Acquire the Facts:
- The factual basis of the training consisted of…
Search out the Meaning:
- I connected the training to what is important and significant for the team members by…
Trigger the Memory:
- I ensured that the training would be memorable for the team members by…
Exhibit the Knowledge:
- I ensured that the training was effective by getting the team to exhibit the knowledge gained. I did this by…
Reflect on the Learning Cycle:
- How could this training have been improved?
The head picture is from Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant, illustrated by Ritva Voutila, one of my foundational texts for teaching kindness, sharing, community, and empathy.