March 30, 2012

Dalton Ninefield 3

The school needs places where pupils can work together and in the classroom the tables are arranged in groups. Schools can make choices for a mate model: every pupil is doing some activities during one day/week with another in a circulation system. Or the school works with a mentor or tutor model.
In all cases a structural co-operation is organized. Learning with each other and from each other has been proved to be effective and it gives extra motivation.
But who takes the initiative to arrange the groups and how many pupils are in the group? This depends on the situation and the attitude of the group, but groups with much experience can organize it themselves. Kagan speaks about teams instead of groups.
All members of the team have special roles.

Important is that enough material in available to make the group work possible.
The assignments consist special tasks in which collaboration is necessary.

Organizing a variance in cooperative learning is a modern way of teaching, but finds the roots in the Dalton concept of Helen Parkhurst. Much information about cooperative learning is available nowadays. Pupils must learn to take initiatives to find out together, the teacher stimulates the action of them instead of being active the whole lesson hour. The teacher in the role of coach in a group process.
We wrote about this topic in our book ‘Hallo Dalton’ and gave several suggestions.

Co-operation starts with paying respect to each other, to accept each others differences. The willingness to help each other finds the soil in a good social atmosphere in the class.
Written rules and regulations have no effect on the creation of another attitude of the pupils. Co-operation has to be trained step by step. All measures has to be explained in advance and discussed in the process evaluation direct after each work period.
Pupils must get the opportunity to make regulations themselves, because it is easier to fulfil the demands of their own rules. But rules and regulations has to change into routines.
A consequent process evaluation will be the best platform to give the grow of another attitude a real chance.

How to make a success of the implementation of the Dalton concept?
1. A strong educational management with the director of the school as the stimulating leader of the process.
2. A professional planning, initiated and controlled by a ‘Dalton coordinator’.
3. The drawing up of the Dalton competences for teachers with the consequence of a personal development planning for all the individual teachers.
4. Laying down the educational development in a ‘Dalton Policy Plan’.

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