California Deafblind Services

Gloria: Looking for Balance Between the Quality of the Interaction and Skill Development

10/05/2010 13:43

An important part of my work is to observe interactions between teachers and students in order to give recommendations to improve the quality of the service delivery. Despite the fact that these interactions are the basis on which all learning is built, I have noticed a recurring problem: teachers tend to overlook the quality of the interactions while placing too much emphasis on gross and fine motor activities and visual-tactile-auditory stimulation.

What do I mean by the quality of interactions between the teacher and child? It is the way they relate to each other so that the child feels safe, is connected with the teacher, understands what it is expected of him, and is confident that there will be a response to his actions.

This quality of the interaction will depend greatly on the ability of the teacher to:

1) Closely observe the child during activities so she can see, recognize and respond to the subtleties of these interactions.

2) Be attentive to the child’s attempts to express his wants and needs so the teacher will be more likely to acknowledge and respond to them.

3) “Ground” the interaction by slowing the pace and providing clear cues so the child can understand what it is expected of him and has adequate time to respond.

4) Follow the child’s initiatives to encourage the child to have “more to say” during that particular interaction and in future interactions.

5) Support the child by joining him during activities to do things together but in a way that the child can learn that his actions are his and not the teacher’s.

6) Be joyful. The child can feel the teacher’s emotions and will know if the teacher enjoys these interactions. The child will be more open to work with a teacher who likes to be with him.

High quality interactions equal a better quality of life and more opportunities for children to learn and develop. Feel free to share this information with parents and service providers. They may want to incorporate these strategies in their own interactions with children who are deaf-blind. And watch for a new CDBS Fact Sheet on this same topic that will be added soon to the project website.