Attaining Maximum Appropriate Involvement

I’m back and attempting to participate in the #MTBoS30 challenge this month. There are 31 days in May, but I’m guessing they’re giving us a day off for Memorial Day? Who knows. I’m way behind in posting stuff from our interactive notebooks in Algebra I and I will probably mass-upload those during finals week (hopefully I won’t have many finals to grade!) as well as discuss what’s been good about my first time teaching AFDA.

I spent this weekend in Durham attending job training for my summer job. I’ll be working again this summer for DukeTIP – a residential enrichment program for gifted and talented students. I’m really pumped for this summer because I’ll be doing a sustainability and engineering program, so I’m pretty sure I’ll learn just as much (if not more) than my students!

During our last part of training this morning, we heard a talk about important pieces of leading teams, and one of those pieces was “Maximum Appropriate Involvement in Decision Making”. I immediately  started picking and pulling at how I could adapt this to my teaching practices. The idea is that different things require decisions being made in different ways. There are 5 levels, which you can read more about here if you’re interested, but I’ll list them briefly below:

  • Decide and announce
  • Gather input from individuals and decide
  • Gather input from the team and decide
  • Consensus
  • Delegate with constraints

This makes so much more sense to me than the general ideas of student buy-in and involvement, because I think it’s a little bit more clear cut.

There are certain things that we decide as teachers, or are decided for us by our department, administration, district, or state, and tell our students “this is what we’re doing and why/how we’re doing it.”

There are certain times, often on tests and exit tickets, where we ask for input for students on what they liked/didn’t like/understood/didn’t understand so that we can make future instructional decisions.

There are certain topics that require whole-class discussions, such as class norms or how to seek out extra help, where we take the information provided to us by the class and decide how we want to implement their ideas (or if it’s even feasible to do so!)

There are certain activities that really require buy-in and understanding from each individual in the classroom in order to be successful, so a class discussion has to be held and the whole class needs to agree on what is going to happen and how/why it’s happening.

Then finally, there are times where we can simply tell our students, “This is your responsibility, have this done by a certain time/date within these loose guidelines and you’re good.”

While reflecting on these five levels I realized that I live almost exclusively in the lowest two. I think that part of that is me being a new teacher and still trying to get a handle on classroom management; the “easiest” way to manage a classroom is to tell students everything and expect them to do it. But that’s definitely not the most fun or interesting or helpful for them at times, and it doesn’t produce the best results when it comes to student achievement and appreciation. So this is one of the things I’m going to continue to reflect a lot on over the next few months – how can I push myself (and my students) toward those higher levels of involvement in making decisions within the classroom?

I’ll blog more about the factors to consider when deciding what level is appropriate tomorrow as well as some other things I picked up from this training throughout the month!

P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about DukeTIP visit