An article by

Sumathi Krishna Kumar  and Tarsheeni Tania Rajoo,
Educational Advisors, DAS Main Literacy Programme, English Language & Literacy Division

The Asian Festival of Children’s Content (AFCC) is an annual event organised by the Singapore Book Council (SBC). The Singapore Book Council (SBC) has been organising the Asian Children’s Writers & Illustrators Conference (ACWIC) since 2000, which then morphed into AFCC in 2010.

This year, Sumathi and Tarsheeni were given the opportunity to present at the AFCC 2018 on 7th September. Both Sumathi and Tarsheeni are Educational Advisors (EAs) from the Main Literacy Programme (MLP) at the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS).

Sumathi is a Senior Educational Therapist and an Educational Advisor at the DAS. Sumathi joined the DAS in 2009. As an Educational Advisor, she contributes to the area of Staff Professional Development that involves mentoring of trainee Educational Therapists via lectures and 1 to 1 mentoring sessions, providing guidance to Educational Therapists at centre levels and conducting Quality Assurance Audits on a yearly basis. Sumathi has a Postgraduate Certificate in Specific Learning Differences from the London Metropolitan University and has been active in the area of specialising educational services for over 9 years. Her recent research involved collaboration with 2 colleagues in a study of a comparative analysis of 2 mentoring approaches at the DAS that was showcased at the BDA International Conference 2016. This was also presented at the Unite SpLD on 21st June 2017. She looks forward to and is excited about participating in future educational prospects. She is also a member of the Register of Educational Therapists Asia (RETA).

Tarsheeni has been an Educational Therapist with the DAS since 2013 and an Educational Advisor(EA) with the Staff Professional Development (SPD) division at the DAS since 2016.

Tarsheeni has a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, a Diploma in Business Management from Nanyang Polytechnic, a Specialist Diploma in Specific Learning Differences (SpLD) from the DAS Academy and over 4 years of experience working with dyslexic learners. She is also a member of the Register of Educational Therapists, Asia (RETA). As an EA, Tarsheeni is involved in the mentoring and training of trainee Educational Therapists, providing support for Educational Therapists and conducting yearly Quality Assurance Audits.

In 2015, she was awarded the MAP Educational Therapist of the year award. Tarsheeni continues to aspire to help and provide quality service to dyslexic children and youths and assist them in developing their strengths and passion.

The event, which took place at The National Library, gave us an opportunity to share on how the Educational Therapists at the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) use the Mediational Intervention for Sensitizing Caregivers (MISC) framework to help students’ develop and expand their minds together with forming a nurturing rapport with the therapists.

The MISC framework focuses on 5 principles:

  1. Intentionality and Reciprocity,
  2. Meaning,
  3. Expansion,
  4. Feeling of Competence and
  5. Regulation of Behaviour.

In order to achieve a productive lesson, and excellent lesson plans and execution skills, it is also important to have quality interaction with our students. Infusing the 5 MISC components into lessons, will help to create more meaningful experiences for the students and will also enhance their understanding. The following 5 principles were shared in detail during our presentation to aid caregivers/teachers in their child’s/student’s learning journey:

MISC 1: Intentionality and Reciprocity

The aim of this principle is for the teacher to deliberately influence a child’s behaviour or perception with the aim of promoting verbal or non-verbal responses from students. The engagement and the participation of students is important as it helps to hold their attention. For an example, in our MLP classes, Educational Therapists could explicitly share with their students the expectations of their lesson by writing the tasks of the day on the whiteboard. This clearly exhibits the Educational Therapists intentions for the lesson and allows the students to reciprocate with an observable response.

MISC 2: Meaning

The aim of this principle is to ensure that learning has truly taken place. In order for that to happen, the lesson needs to be meaningful for the students. Meaning adds value to what the child is learning and provides a meaningful and concretised learning experience for the child. A literacy-related example will include teaching the student the prefix ‘mis’ and its meaning and explaining how adding the prefix to an existing word will change the meaning of that word.

This will prompt students to tap on their newly acquired knowledge to gain a better understanding of the word.

MISC 3: Expansion

The aim of this principle is to bridge what the child has learnt to other possible situations, experiences or events.  It also encourages the child to consider implications and make inferences. For an example, while conducting a reading activity in class, the teacher will ask the child inferential and evaluative questions like ‘how’ and ‘why’ to invoke a curiosity to inquire. The questions will also get the child to tap on his/her prior knowledge, engaging them in reflective thinking. Expansion has taken place when the child is able to transcend basic meaning and is able to engage in reflective thinking and forming relationships between things. An example of expansion at the DAS classroom will involve the students learning a particular strategy like ‘CUBHi’ and successfully use it in their school work to assist them.

MISC 4: Feelings of Competence

The aim of this principle is to provide specific praises for the process of the child’s learning and to build the self-confidence of the child. This principle can be seen as a process that allows for independent thinking, encourages and motivates a child to take action and contributes towards achieving goals. Conscious attempts are made by the caregiver/teacher to offer specific praises to the child. Praises should not be generic like “Great job!” Instead, it should be detailed for the child to know why he/she is being praised specifically. E.g. “I’m very impressed that you waited quietly for your turn. Keep up the great work!” This will let the child develop a positive attitude and the determination and motivation to persevere. This is especially prevalent at the DAS as our Educational Therapists are trained to be emotionally sound with all students, allowing students to celebrate the little successes that they experience.

MISC 5: Regulation of Behaviour

The aim of this principle is to focus on the use of positive language and/or modelling to promote self-regulation of the child’s behaviour. It includes taking ownership of their behaviour, exercising good listening skills and sensitizing them towards acceptable behaviour that will benefit and not compromise their learning and others. The goal of this principle is to eventually progress the child to become an independent and autonomous learner.

The MISC framework is a beneficial instructional tool for caregivers/teachers. The desired outcome of the MISC framework is to create quality interaction between caregivers/teachers and the child and to have a positive influence on the different areas of a child’s learning journey. We hope that our sharing of this framework will raise further awareness of its importance and serve as an inspiration for other caregivers/teachers to promote learning amongst their children with or without difficulties. As Albert Einstein aptly puts, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”

This article was published in FACETS Vol 3 2018

To read this article in PDF click here