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Get them to finish their work! - A teacher’s guide to Attunement Strategy

As teachers, it is crucial to understand the importance of motivation and meta cognitive skills in the classroom.

In the classroom, those with low motivation may:

  • not have the cognitive strategies to solve and complete a task

  • have difficulties meeting the demands of adults

Therefore, they have often acquired a complex set of negative ideas about themselves as learners in school which can affect how they approach learning tasks. These pupils are noticed due to a lack of on-task behaviour and/or a lack of work completed.

However, teachers who can successfully integrate positive teacher-pupil interactions, build motivation and task problem solving skills, can help their pupils become more engaged and active in the classroom.

One effective approach that teachers can use is the Attunement Strategy.

The Attunement Strategy is designed for who those may be inattentive, passive in the classroom, or struggling to complete their work. The strategy involves the teacher introducing a task in a particular way and giving feedback on progress while the pupil is working. The teacher helps the pupil anticipate their tasks in their own terms by asking specific questions that involve the pupil in planning, goal-setting, and anticipating difficulties. The teacher conducts a review with the pupil to check the extent to which the initial expectations were met, highlighting progress made and helping to stimulate a sense of competence and control over learning.

What does this look like in the classroom?

  1. Before the task, teachers should ensure the task planned matches that pupil’s ability level. They should ask questions to elicit a description of the task and identify resource needs, success criteria, knowledge and strategies, expectations, and goals. By asking these questions, teachers can help pupils develop a clear understanding of what they need to do to complete the task successfully.

  2. During the task, teachers should ask questions to review progress, resource needs, knowledge and strategies, and expectations. By asking these questions, teachers can help pupils stay on track and ensure that they have the resources and knowledge they need to complete the task successfully.

  3. After the task, teachers should ask questions to review the result, knowledge and strategies, time, behaviour, and attribution. By asking these questions, teachers can help pupils reflect on their performance and develop strategies to achieve their goals more effectively in the future.

  4. Finally, and crucially the key part not to forget is to help the pupil begin to attribute their success to themselves and not luck. This can help break negative thinking patterns about completing tasks thereby building motivation. At this point it is important not to focus on negative questions e.g., ‘why did you get this one wrong?’



What to ask

Before a task

What is the task about? Do you remember how to do this?

During a task

How many questions do you think you'll be able to finish? What is helping you complete this task?

After a task

Did you manage to finish? Have you worked hard?

Attribution questions

Why did you succeed? What did you do to help you succeed? Why do you think you have made fewer mistakes?

There are four benefits to the Attunement Strategy:

  1. Teachers become more aware of how they help pupils by becoming "attuned" to their needs

  2. Teachers become more aware of how their teaching style can influence pupils' task behaviour

  3. Pupils begin to attribute success to their own effort rather than luck

  4. Pupils have more feelings of being in control – feeling less helpless of learning outcomes

The Attunement Strategy is a useful approach that teachers can use to help pupils build motivation and develop their meta cognition skills. By asking the right questions, teachers can help pupils develop a clear understanding of what they need to do to complete a task successfully, stay on track during the task, and reflect on their performance after the task. By using the Attunement Strategy, teachers can help pupils take control of their own learning and become more effective learners.

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