4 appendixes have been included:
• View indicator
• The 10 action points
• Declaration of intention
• Communication
Appendix 1 – view indicator
In order to pay attention to the five involvement enhancing factors, the items below can be taken care of:
Atmosphere and relationship
- Attention for cosy corners and rooms
- Attention for the children’s wellbeing during working in corners and contracts.
- Room for positive individual attention where necessary
- Positive interactions between the teacher and the children
- Positive interactions between the children mutually
- A good working climate (rest, free of stress, kind-hearted, little disturbance of order)
- Room for jokes, humour in the assignments or interactions of the teacher and the pupils
Adaptation to level
- Taking into account the differences in pace between children
- Taking into account the differences in level between children
- Sufficient clarity in what one expects from the children, e.g. in the form of agreements
- Clear and unambiguous instructions
- Children help each other. The teacher takes time for observation.
- The teacher takes time for individual (or group’s) counselling
- After working in corners or according to contract there is an evaluation (evaluation circle)
- Variation and diversity in the activities and tasks of the corners and the contract
- Doing and experimental tasks in the corners and the contract
- Game assignments and educational games in the corners and the contract
- Idle moments and waiting times are reduced to the minimum
Reality nearness
- Tasks link up with the children’s world of living and interests
- Room for exploration and direct contact with a piece of reality.
- Modern media to give assignments a lifelike character
- Attractive educational appliances
- Useful tasks and functional applications of the subject-matter of tuition
- Subject-breaking tasks.
Pupil’s initiative
- Sufficient options in corner-work and contract-work.
- Children can choose freely in which corner they are going to work (free activities) or which assignments they are doing in a corner
- Children can determine the course and the nature of the process in some assignments
- Children get chances of self-evaluation. Children are being stimulated to solve problems themselves.
- The tasks are open and productive (versus closed/reproductive) so there is room for an own, creative completion
There is a very simple view guide:
Imagine you were a pupil from your class.
What would you do if you would enter your classroom?
-You are a six-year-old girl. What are you going to do in this class?
-You are an eleven-year-old boy. What are you going to do in this class?
- You are a student from the teachers’ training college. What are you going to do in this room?
- You are a teacher. What are you going to do in this room?
Appendix 2 – the 10 action points *
* F. Laevers, Working in an experience oriented way with kids in primary education (2004)
Action point 1
Rearranging the classroom in corners
Action point 2
Dealing with the filling of the corners thoroughly.
We divide the classroom in clearly screened corners with an individual character and look at the classroom with the eyes to the kids. We also put tot the test the basic equipment in the corners from this perspective.
- Which corners are there? Which corners do you miss?
- Do you think the classroom is cosy, beautiful, inviting?
- Is the filling of the corners satisfactory? Is there sufficient material? Is not there too much? Is the offer tuned to the children’s level? Is it sufficiently accessible?
- What could be improved about the arrangement of the classroom and/or the filling of the corners in view of wellbeing and involvement?
Action point 3
Introducing new materials and activities
Sometimes children are bored with the standard offer in the classroom. We leave trodden paths and are going to look for things which at first sight may not belong in the classroom but which contain enormous chances to involvement.
- Do you see materials or activities to enlarge the offer?
- Do they have surplus value? What is (possibly) the effect of it on children?
Action point 4
Discovering interests and thinking of and offering connecting activities.
We try to feel actively and consciously what goes on in the children here and now. We ask the question: what appeals to children, what intrigues them, which questions do they ask, what moves them to action, speaking and thinking and how can I connect with the offer of materials, activities and themes?
- Are you making efforts to trace the children’s interests and needs and connect with these?
- Are there traces to be discovered in the children for new offers?
Action point 5
Giving involvement enhancing impulses during activities.
The way in which we guide activities, what we do say or do and what we do not say or do, how we say or do something determines largely if an initiative becomes more powerful for children or less powerful
- Do you give many/few impulses to give activities more intensity?
- Are there moments at which you introduce fascinating information?
- Can you distinguish between action-stimulating, communication-stimulating and thought-stimulating impulses?
- Are these impulses successful in terms of involvement?
- Are there moments where you do not intrude consciously as a teacher but where you stimulate by being silent or withdrawing?
Action point 6
Expanding the initiative and supporting with rules and agreements.
We give children room for initiative and are not too close to them, do not keep them in a tight harness, do not program their lives in the smallest details. Free initiative is really something different from letting things take their course. It demands a carefully put up system of limits and agreements, a basic pattern with clearly recognizable moments, attention for children who get stuck in their process of choices.
- How much freedom of choice is there with regard to activities? Too much, too little? How are children dealing with this free initiative? How do they experience it?
- Which restraints are there from the pattern of the day? Which limits and agreements are true in class? - Is there sufficient structure? Are children who need it offered help to deal with this in a richer way?
Action point 7
Exploring and improving the relationship with every child and among children.
We take care of a good climate in class, the atmosphere among kids mutually, the quality of the relationship between teacher and children. In this way children experience that it is cosy together and an atmosphere of security and linkedness can develop.
- What do you think of the atmosphere in your class? What contributes according to you to this atmosphere or what is detrimental to it?
- At what moments do you take or have you taken initiatives to work on action point 7?
Action point 8
Offering activities which can help children to explore feelings, values and relationships.
An area of reality that often remains untouched is the world of behaviour, feelings, relationships, values. We consciously take a number of initiatives round these aspects.
- Do you help children showing the ropes in what they experience themselves and meet in others in feelings and behaviour? Is there attention for themes which refer to society? Are values reflected on?
Action point 9
Helping children with emotional problems with directed interventions.
Action point 10
Helping children with specific developmental needs with directed interventions.
Children with emotional problems and with specific developmental needs can be helped with directed interventions. Have a look at the chapter about width of care.
Appendix 3 – the Declaration of intention
1) Intentions/starting points
‘name school’ is striving for organizing education and upbringing:

1.1 In which children can grow up as emancipated (free responsible) people who are linked with themselves, the others, the environment and the big entity of life.
1.2 In which the teachers try to put themselves into the children’s situation and tune their approach to that.
1.3 In which fundamental learning is meant because children are challenged in situations that link up with their level and world of experience.
1.4 In which children become competent in many ways.
1.5 In which wellbeing and involvement are the criteria by which actions and interactions are judged and are a guidance for new interventions. Because children who are being well and involved can develop maximally.
1.6 With attention for the basic needs of children tuned to their (individual) developmental potential.
1.7 With attention for a sound social-emotional development.

2) Pedagogic-didactic translation
‘name school’ tries give a concrete continuation to the intentions by fixing on:

2.1.a Children, team members and parents who have a say and who bear also responsibility for the complete school community. On the basis of a transparent organisation there is an open mutual communication between the team, the children and the parents.
2.1.b An interaction by which, within limits, free-thinking, responsible children can develop. On the basis of intense and open relationships autonomy is given to children.
2.1.c Activities that create linkedness with themselves, the others, objects/materials, the group/society and life as a whole.

2.2 An approach at which teachers from their profession and empathy constantly try to put themselves in the children’s situation in order to start new actions and interactions from that perspective.

2.3 Interventions that link up with the child’s world of living and experience so that the experienced, learned really remains. The counsellors try to arrange the environment en the counselling in such a way that children are challenged.

2.4 A challenging, argued offer of all domains of development:
- Coarse motions
- Fine motions
- Representation: expressive
- Representation: language skills
- Understanding the physical world
- Social competence
- Thinking mathematically and logically
- Self-guidance

2.5 A process-directed approach with a process-aimed child following system. The counsellors observe and screen at regular intervals to determine to what extent one can speak of:

- Enjoying, having fun
- Relaxation and inner peace
- Vitality
- Openness
- Spontaneity, daring to be oneself
- Self-confidence, assertiveness, a positive self-image
- Being in contact with oneself

and involvement
- Concentration
- Energy
- Complexity and creativity
- Mimicry and posture
- Persistence
- Accuracy
- Reaction time
- Wording
- Satisfaction

On the basis of 3 pillars:
- Rich environment ( A well prepared environment/argued offer.)
- Experience Oriented dialogue (Empathic dialogue.)
- Pupils’ initiative (Pupils and counsellors make education together.)

and 5 involvement enhancing factors:
- Atmosphere and relationship (A pleasant and secure contact.)
- Adaptation to the level (Challenge to measure.)
- Reality nearness (Linking to children’s living world)
- Activity (Many possibilities ‘to do something’.)
- Free initiative (Options.)

trying to keep or get going (again) a good development.

At which counsellors distinguish in their approach between children who:
- Can work autonomously
They hardly need their teacher
- Can work autonomously after instruction
They can start independently after they have exchanged strategies and ways of working
- Will have to be guided (temporarily)
They have insufficient support from ways of working, methods and materials.
- Work with a plan of action
They are guided intensively

The organisation knows 5 ways of working:
- Circle and forum
- Working in corners and to contracts
- Project work
- Workshops
- Free choice to enable differentiation and individualised ways.

2.6 Actions and interactions with a feeling for the (individual) basic needs:
- Physical needs
- Need for affection; warmth, tenderness
- Need for security, clarity, continuity
- Need for recognition
- Need to experience oneself as able
- Need to be morally ‘all right’

2.7 Actions and interactions which enable the children and counsellors to recognize, to label and to differentiate emotions and feelings as well preventively as curatively.

3) (The limit to) width of care
‘name school’ talks about care of a child, if there is insufficient (or no) involvement and/or wellbeing in one or more developmental domains. The child is not or insufficiently developing.
In situations where counsellors are insufficiently able to put themselves into the children’s situations in order to let actions and interactions pass with a good wellbeing and a great involvement (a part of) the team will make an experience reconstruction of the child and the process to get together a good view of and be responsible for: the process and the future possibilities. The width of care is reached when counsellors in spite of their exertions are not able to enhance the wellbeing and involvement of children who are doing badly.

4) Consequences and competences
It is important that teachers who want to use wellbeing and involvement as criteria work permanently on a number of competences. They will also have to possess a number of talents that have to remain developing.

4.1 Counsellors have a good empathic skill.
This is an absolute condition. People who do not have attention for ‘what happens inside the other’ cannot counsel in Experience Oriented institutions. Nevertheless it is a criterion that is difficult to ‘test’. But if a candidate reports during a job interview you have an idea about his personality and mentality very quickly. The extent to which he is able to work with the interest for the other person is difficult to hide (verbally).
4.2 Counsellors are able to guide their group organizationally autonomously.
Of course this development has to be followed. You cannot demand from a starting teacher to have a complete view of all pupils who need special care within two months. You first have to know where the pencils are and what time the PE class is. It is important that the board looks with every teacher to the next phase. From a teacher who is directed at the organisation to a teacher who is directed on how pupils are really doing (because he can deal with the situation perfectly).

4.3 Teachers continually qualify in the developmental psychology and the education lines of their group and translate this into the offer.
Teachers must have an idea how the development (generally) elapses. The periods that are described by developmental psychologists roughly apply to ‘your’ children. Teachers must also know more about aspects as motivation and the attribution of success and failure than ‘what happens accidentally in their group’. Insight is necessary to make responsible choices.

4.4 Counsellors work according to processes. (Observation, analysis, intervention, reflection.)
In order to realize a maximum product, the process must be maximal. It seems evident for those who work according to processes. But especially with problems people tend to return to ‘old patterns’ of punishing and rewarding. It is not simple to stick consistently to a process cycle. Reflection is needed to justify new interventions.

4.5 Counsellors are well able in conversations with children, parents and colleagues. Teachers can agree about ‘which way they want to go’. With much dedication they can work hard. The big problem is to work in a pleasant way, to give feedback in a good way. Specific conversations for example with children if it is not clear why they have got stuck or bad news talks with parents are not simple. But a daily burden is rather the professional incompetence to give good feedback. Teachers experience team members and board members by no means always as real colleagues who they can rely on. It is important that before the end of the day they have their job satisfaction in view and under control. It is not bad to lie awake once because of a child that is doing badly or because of a difficult conversation but the causes of a stomach ache must be recognized and tackled well professionally. Schools in which teachers are working together intensively must pay a lot of attention to communication processes. Giving feedback is technically not so simple so there is always are always different reasons not to do it.
Communication (feedback)
Because teacher who work with each other in an open and dynamic way seem to feel the need for communication guidance a feedback document has been attached.
See appendix 4: communication.
4.6 Counsellors are prepared to work together professionally and intensely.

A condition is that you ‘feel like it’ together. It must be professional because good intentions are not sufficient. There is no more costly capital than children. We must not expose that capital to stock exchange quotations and day’s rates of exchange. We must guide it carefully and responsibly. This is an intense process which you must deal with on your own (for your feeling).

4.7 Counsellors can reflect well, analyse and have ‘permanently’ conversations with reference to their own functioning and the functioning of the group.

In order to get and keep a view on how processes a large and clear way of reflection is necessary. This requires openness and vulnerability. Reflecting gives insight in what causes your behaviour. What do teachers cause who have no attention for this…

4.8 Counsellors constantly work on improving their own abilities. Before-mentioned abilities demand attention in a continuity of development.
Appendix 4: communication
For teams which work together intensely and dynamically it is self-evidently important that professionally there is a good communication. That is not ‘boring’ or ‘hard’. It prevents people from saying things which hurt others or from not saying things because of which they go home burdened. Giving good feedback is conditional in this. For this reason this appendix consists of few elementary documents. Of course that is not sufficient. Feedback is technically simple. There is always a(nother) reason not to do it. Next to knowledge courage is a determining factor.

- Make your behaviour and the effects of it conscious.
- Reinforce your desired behaviour.
- Help to avoid non intended effects
- Help others to gain insights in themselves and their acting.
Feedback is not the same
as passing criticism!
Technically it is not so complicated to give feedback.
You stick to three steps:

- Describe behaviour
Concretely, without interpretations

- Tell which effect it has on you
What feeling is evoked?
What behaviour are you going to show yourself?

- Make a step towards the other
Leave room for a reaction

It is not self-evident that you can give good feedback in every situation. There are burdening circumstances such as:
- The message is difficult. E.g. a bad news talk.
- The receiver is difficult. E.g. a domineering colleague.
- The situation is difficult. E.g. there are still other children in the classroom.
- The channel is difficult. E.g. you can only reach the other one by e-mail.
- The sender suffers from irrational thoughts. E.g. you think what the other one thinks of you…
It is pleasant to eliminate as many burdening circumstances as possible or to influence them.

Tips for an effective feedback
- Describe perceptible and apparent behaviour not referring to the person. Drop the individual.
- Describe without judgement or interpretation.
- E.g. “I see that you cast down your eyes” and not “You are shy.”
- Keep indicating what YOU have perceived, your experience of it and the reaction what it causes in you. After all It is always a subjective description.
- It must be specific, not general. Concrete and clear.
- There must be as little time as possible between perceived behaviour and feedback.
- So not: “ I thought that you a year ago…”
- It must enable the receiver to do something with the information.
- So not: “Your voice is so low..”
- Restrict yourself to giving information, do not give advice.
- The receiver must want to receive feedback.
- The wording must invite the other one to a reaction.

- Be honest.
- Give this information in a way that really helps.
- Give it at a moment that the behaviour is still recent.
- Offer information but do not press it forward.
- Give the other one room to react.

Eventually it is about the art to actively tackle that which can be changed,
to accept what cannot be changed at that moment
and the wisdom to distinguish between those two.

Teacher today    
description of a school working plan  
staying at school scheme
and a child  
differentiation approach
evening meeting  
and a child
report on parent volunteer  
arrangement of the classroom
and a child  
security code
instruction moment  
and a child
practical period guidance
and a child  
pupils’ administration
stage presentation  
and a child
survey of weekly tasks  
washing up schedule
and a child  
vision meeting
preparation of party  
and a child
maintenance of playground  
exhibition lay out
and a child  
transfer discussion
counselling talk  
and a child
discussion about width of care  
excursion guidance
and a child  
adaptation policy  
and a child
refresher course  
correction work
and a child  
behavioural changing process
health insurance scheme  
and a child
travelling expenses scheme  
words of comfort
and a child  
inspection visit
lending a handkerchief  
and a child
level consultation  
approach of spelling
and a child  
aspect of choice
phantasy packing  
and a child
audio-visual display  
and a child  
functioning talk  
reward system  
and a child  
school principle  
principle agreement  
and a child  
and a child
security consideration  
and a child
arithmetic didactic  
and a child
and a child  
and a child
turn for minutes  
and a child
news letter item  
and a child
and a child  
and a child
and… a child
Fortunately there are only twenty-nine children in the class.
Imagine you had more!
  Juggling is done at an older age
  Bram had only been at school for a few weeks when I was visiting Marian’s class in the starting group. From a corner I saw Bram standing in the middle of the classroom with a little ball in his hand. He turned towards ‘the little house’: a floor in the classroom of which the upper part was about fifty centimetres from the ceiling.
He tried to throw the ball over the edge. After four efforts he succeeded. He took another ball and ‘practised’ again till it had disappeared over the edge. After five balls he changed to cloths, markers and blocks. Very soon he threw the cloths harder in the air and he developed more feeling in his throwing. Yet the noise and the unrest increased too. When Marian thought the activity was disturbing from another corner she asked him to stop. After school we discussed the ‘exercise situation’ as I had observed it and the ‘disturbance situation’ as Marian had perceived it. The patterns of needs and the restrictions were clear.
Bram is almost six years old in the meantime. I asked Marian if she could still remember that moment. She need not think for a second and fired away “He has always had the need to throw all kinds of things into or onto something. In the playroom he put blocks onto the climbing tower. He tried to throw between them. Further, higher, more difficult. Balls, bags full of pits…. and one time Sjors’s cuddly toy. We discussed that and there has never been any problem anymore. But why do you refer to that now?”
I told her that last week when we were on a camp with the children I walked into the dormitory. All children were arranging their place for the night. In order to prevent children falling from the bunk-beds we had moved them against each other. Suddenly I heard ‘a familiar voice’ that called: “I will do that.” I turned around and saw Bram throwing bags, sleeping bags and pillows into the air. With power and precision without hitting the children who were sitting upstairs on the beds. His classmates were even grateful that he was throwing their cuddly toys.
Previous: Chapter 9
Next: Chapter 11