Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Next bits of ongoing nurturer training (includes naming sounds)

Here's a general point for various aspects of nurturer orientation: whenever a GP is struggling with a task, the nurturer asks himself or herself "How can I help him/her to succeed at this point in this task". We could have some mini-case studies!

Another general point: "Nurturer, the GPs may choose at times to answer as a team, not as individuals, each contributing something. It's up to them, not you!"

As Angela and I continue in information gap activities, the nurturer needs to understand that if the GPs constitute the two sides, then the point is for them to interact, and him/her to scaffold their efforts--meet them in their growth zone, but keep them interacting with each other. Suppose GP1 is supposed to be talking to GP2. So GP1 makes a comment to GP2. The nurturer may tend to step in, and make the whole thing into an interaction between him/her and GP1, ignoring GP2, and make it all about "how to say things" rather than primarily scaffolding the saying of the things. A coach can remind GP1 that s/he is talking to GP2, not to the nurturer. The nurturer needs to be reminded also. Another good strategy is to tell the nurturer, "When GP1 is struggling to say something to GP2, you tell GP2 what you understand GP1 to be trying to tell GP2; GP1 will hear that, and learn a lot from the way you said it without feeling s/he is being corrected at every word, and "learning how to say things" rather than getting her point across with your help."

The nurturer also needs to keep "explanation" to a minimum, or that will take over the activity. We found our nurturer frequently wanting to explain how we were mispronouncing, and how we should be pronouncing, though not really knowing the first thing about phonetics. We solved that by taking five minutes and finding six of our now-few-hundred familiar words that begin with four sounds that we kept confusing. These were words we would roughly translate as chin, hammer, tooth, frog, belly, navel. Those then became the names of the six sounds. So if a word contained the first sound in frog, and we pronounced it as the first sound in chin, he would point at his chin, and say (in Potwari), not chin—frog (pointing at our toy frog). Now in coming days we may add other such "names" for sounds we have a hard time discriminating. Note that they will be objects whose names we are already familiar with.

But there were other efforts at explanation that involved more than problem sounds. And so we finally just set the timer, and said, "No Urdu for 20 minutes. Potwari only. We can make notes, and after twenty minutes discuss any unresolvable issues in Urdu." Worked wonderfully.

By the time we finish Phase 1, I'll be ready to write a nurturer training course!

We are so thankful for a respectful, sincere, bright nurturer who learns quickly. Creative, too—he even scaffolds our body language sometimes, without our even having thought to suggest such a thing. We just wish we were learning Potwari as quickly as he is learning to nurture us.

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