Ideas on Implementing Self-Instructional Training in Your Classroom

  1. Play a not-too-challenging skill game like Operation with children. As you are playing, talk out loud your steps, and your feelings when you succeed and fail in getting the body parts out of the patient. Your reactions to frustration and failure are particularly important, because they tell children what to say when things don’t go their way. They also let children know that everybody makes mistakes–even teachers. Research has shown that a coping model, where you make mistakes once in a while, is more effective in helping children learn, than a mastery model, where you do things perfectly every time.

You can also train peers to act as models. They may even have a stronger impact on another child than you do.

  1. Ask children to direct another person in performing a task. They are only allowed to use words, no body movements. This gives them practice in using words to direct their behavior.
  2. Play a game of Copy Cat with the class. Mary-Ann Bash and Bonnie Camp (1975) incorporated this idea in their program “Think Aloud.” It involves asking children to say what you say and do what you do. Children copy out loud your problem-solving steps: (a) identifying the problem–“What is my problem?”; (b) developing a plan–“What is my plan?”; (c) monitoring performance–“Am I using my plan?”; (d) evaluating performance–“How did I do?” Gradually the copy cat model is faded and cue cards are used instead as signals for children to repeat their problem-solving steps in their heads.
  3. Combine self-instructional training with imagery. Children are bound to get off-track during their self-instructional process. If you notice this happening, you can bring them back on track by asking them to imagine themselves doing something which requires concentration and deliberate action, such as walking a tightrope or pretending they are a robot.
  4. Schneider (1974) also put self-instructional training and imagery together in his turtle technique. In this technique children are asked to imitate a turtle by going inside their shells, whenever they feel themselves losing control. While inside their shells, children practise relaxation, and think about how they can manage their problems without losing their tempers. Turtle technique has proven successful in lowering children’s aggressive behavior and frustration responses.