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Thinking Aloud Together – Practitioners And Policy Makers

Thinking Aloud Together – Practitioners and Policy Makers

RCC offers many opportunities to engage in thinking aloud together. It can be role modelled in supervision between supervisor and supervisee, and it can be between a child and yourself.

It might be you are internally ‘talking to yourself’ about what’s going on, or it might be that you and a child are actually talking about what is going on. A child can learn how to think aloud with us if we role model it and encourage it.

We probably do this all the time in RCC. It is where ‘we’ are aware of our thinking, are being curious about it, recognising the elements of perhaps a problem, selecting how best to approach it, taking time to consider alternative options, and evaluating how well they have achieved their goal.

It’s not so unusual, something we do everyday, it’s commonplace. We have probably taken it as a practice from observing another RCCW or we’ve found that a young person does it.

You might use it especially if the model of care you use involves an understanding of regulation.

Thinking aloud is a way of self-regulating our thinking and behaviour so that it is effective and appropriate in terms of goals and tasks, which might be sorting out our thoughts and emotions, or playing, or cooking, or … anything.

When we are thinking aloud, we are activating relevant knowledge, monitoring one’s own performance, and regulating one’s emotions, motivations, attention, and strategies when working towards goals. We are monitoring and evaluating ourselves.

We are thinking about what we are doing as we do it so that if any problems come up, we can recognise them and deal with them proactively before they get to be complications. Doing so we can increase our self-confidence by completing a task. Nothing so affirming as a beginning, middle and end.

While we are doing ‘it’ we have a way to reflect on what we are doing, think about how well we are doing it, and identify any areas that could be improved.

Set a goal.

Make a plan – what is the order of things to be done.

Imagine any issues that might get in the way – and how to resolve them (generally going around, or over, or under … add to this list yourself!)

Some children (and some of us grown-ups too?) have not had experience or practice in planning in advance. Together, practice this first.  Do something practical, making something, and later we can apply to regulating thoughts, emotions, behaviour.

For some children it will mean looking at how things have happened before, perhaps many times (“This has been going on for a long time” can be a profound releasing observation from a grown-up for a child. It is empathetic and constructive). They may have an expectation of how things will go, that they may have difficulty figuring out how it is supposed to happen, or how they are supposed to control the process so that it reaches the goals.

Explaining doing a task is like making a journey. If we know the route map, we will know how long it will take, if there are any likely hold ups, what are the ways round them, where to stop for a breather.

This is known as a plan-do-review cycle (see diagram below).

We set clear goals for themselves.

Plan exactly how we are going to achieve these goals, by defining the necessary steps and tasks that will be involved.

After setting our goals, we evaluate our plans, checking for errors in them and also evaluating any uncomfortable feelings we have when thinking about them.

  • Deal with any anxiety. Affirm that the plan is thought through.
  • If something we haven’t thought about happen – here’s what we will do. (“Plans don’t always work as intended”).
  • There is nothing we cannot achieve together!

Talk about feeling ‘nervous’ is ‘normal’. We all feel anxious – knowing we feel anxious helps us manage ourselves in order to be successful with the plan.

Small steps help. Make the end achievable through taking small steps. Celebrate each small step’ success! The power of praise! Small steps mean less distraction. Timed steps can help, making sure the time is long enough and has time to finish before it should – a great boost to confidence.

You can always pause. (” Time for a breather and a brew!)

If either of you have a ‘better idea’ then think it through a have a go. It has to make sense to the two of you. Like following a recipe people often say “… but I don’t do it like that I do it this way because it works for me.”)

Thinking aloud is a necessity. It keeps us on the islands of functioning and out of the seas of chaos where we are overwhelmed by anxiety.

Reflective thought…

This might be good for policy makers too. Thinking loud can involve a lot more people outside of the room than the small number inside, the process is as important as the product, we all recognise the product belongs to ‘us’ as a creation, of things we bring that have worked from our experience, not an imposition of what is thought will work. The practicality of policy can be enabled by us engaging in overcoming the uncertainty beforehand and establishing the islands of functioning rather than being plunged into the seas of chaos. Safe uncertainty  – see Microsoft Word – NCERCC Safe Uncertainty.docx