Teachers: What’s Your Framework?

By Craig Pohlman, Ph.D., Co-author of Schools for All Kinds of Minds and Director of MindMatters at Southeast Psych, a learning program in Charlotte, NC

In some circles, All Kinds of Minds has become equated with the neurodevelopmental framework it uses, but this framework is only one aspect of their approach to understand learning and learners.  All Kinds of Minds is really about a set of principles for education, such as leveraging strengths and affinities.  So the framework itself is not nearly as important as having a framework.

The Value of a Framework for Understanding Learning

As we note in Schools for All Kinds of Minds, gathering and then making sense of clues about learning is made easier with a framework for sorting and organizing those clues.  In the same way that artists or musicians know their influences, teachers should know what pedagogical theory guides their instruction.  Louis Pasteur once wrote, “In the fields of observation chance favors only the prepared mind.” A framework prepares the mind for understanding learners.  A framework is a conceptual structure or mental scaffolding that can be used to organize observations from multiple sources.  It is vital equipment for an educator because it clarifies what to look for and then guides how to interpret what is found.

A framework facilitates communication.  When teachers, students, and parents use similar terms to describe learners, collaboration is made much easier.

Learning plans are more readily handed off to different teachers.  Also, using a common vocabulary helps teachers support each others’ thinking and problem solving.

Our Framework

The neurodevelopmental framework used by All Kinds of Minds is an organizing structure through which all learners can be understood.  Developed with an eye towards linkages with academic skills, such as reading and writing, it is similar to neuropsychological frameworks and draws from disciplines such as speech-language pathology.  Its structure and components are well-supported by the research literature.  Its major aspects, or constructs, are attention, higher order cognition, language, memory, neuromotor function, social cognition, spatial ordering, and temporal-sequential ordering.

Frameworks Can Be Eye-Opening

Using a framework is not confining.  Rather, it is liberating in how it opens one’s eyes to new sources of data and more sophisticated levels of understanding.  Put differently, patterns and themes emerge more easily with a framework.  Also, a conceptual framework can and should be adaptable; it’s not acceptable for one’s framework to remain ossified in the face of new thinking and research.   The All Kinds of Minds framework has certainly evolved over the years.

If you are new to the AKOM approach, take the framework out for a spin.  You’ll probably find it comprehensive, yet user-friendly.  Most importantly, it will prepare your mind.

Craig’s  previous books are Revealing Minds and How Can My Kid Succeed in School?

Note from All Kinds of Minds: Did you hear about our free book giveaway?  Each week that we feature a blog post related to Schools for All Kinds of Minds, we’ll be giving away a free, signed copy of the book!  To be entered to win this week, you must subscribe to our blog and share your thoughts about this blog entry by posting a comment.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Related Links:

>      Schools for All Kinds of MindsRead book excerpts, purchase the book, download book extras, and more!

>      All Kinds of Minds neurodevelopmental framework

11 thoughts on “Teachers: What’s Your Framework?

  1. Here at Pathway School in Laguna Hills, CA, the framework of All Kind of Minds provides a commonality of language within our learning community. Whether we are developing a student’s learning profile or providing a Parent Learning About Learning Workshop (Monday Oct. 4, 2010 we are offering the Challenges of Homework) the underlying framework guides our path.

    Ellie Watkins, Head of School
    Pathway School
    Laguna Hills, CA

  2. So glad that you pointed out that the neurodevelopmental constructs are a PART of the framework. Bolstering weaknesses with strengths is a big part as well.

    • Ellie, we’d love to hear feedback from the parents on what they think of using this language and approach to understanding their children. We’re excited you are using the parent workshops from our website. Sometime, write a blog about how your school has used the neurodevelopmental framework for your foundation!

  3. The impact of the use of framework so well described above in the Value of a Framework is evident as one visits classrooms and notices the engagement and individual growth of students as well as how well educators know and understand their students. Focusing on strengths with staff has positively impacted the adult learning teams. Our work, still in infancy, is on a positive and engaging path, the potential impact is invigorating, exciting, and motivating.

    As we plan family learning events, AKOM will have an impact.


  4. I think what your saying is that the most important thing is having some sort of framework, and then according to your opinion the AKOM framework is the best one.

    That seems fair enough to me.

    I think having a framework helps make teachers more professional.

    I think teachers, in general, have lot’s of on-the-job knowledge and a framework is an apporpriate way to organize that knowledge and allow them to share and discuss it with others.

    Keep up the good work!

  5. I agree that developing fluency in the language used among teachers can make all the difference in the world. As a parent, it concerns me that all too often children are negatively impacted by group think, intentional or not, and hopefully the framework of promoted by AKOM mitigates that in the child’s favor. It is necessary that educators and parents alike challenge themselves to turn over that rock and try different approaches.

  6. AS a fairly new teacher who is just drowning in time-conflicted confusion I would love to find some take away message that I could put to immediate use. I’ve read a lot of AKOM messages, and it all sounds conceptually good. I however, am overwhelmed with the “stuff” I have been given to teach with (e’g’, we asked for a writing program and they gave us two). I need to do RTI and differentiated ed, and keep incoming proficient students proficient, and above grade students stimulated and bring up the bubble kids to our meager state standards, and serve a 50% ELL population whose parents have been “congratulated” that their children have been qualified for the district’s English Language Learner program which consists of untrained me and a guy who wanders around the school looking at files and another who spends his time on a laptop testing kindergartners …I can’t get there from here. I don’t think I can stop long enough to test each student and deal with their individualities and keep up with the assessments that I have to teach, give and grade weekly. I am sure I am not the only one. Where do you suggest the overwhelmed teacher begin.

    • Dallie, I hope you have a mentor and other supportive group of colleagues to help you get anchored. Teaching is extremely hard and pulling all the parts into a coherent practice takes a long time. Hang in there.

      Here’s where I started when I taught. I had a 4×6 card for each student all clipped on a ring. I carried this with me so I could jot down observations I made about each student to help me know what they were good at, what I suspected could be challenges. This helped me begin to know them individually without doing “testing” on each one. I also looked at the many instructional and curricular tasks I was asked to do to figure out the common element in each one–how they were connected. For example, RTI and differentiated instruction are very compatible programs at Tier 1 and 2.

      Cut yourself a little slack that you can’t master it all and ask for guidance from the experienced teachers in your school…and online!

  7. As I read through the blog comments I was especially struck by those of Dallie, on Oct. 3rd., the new, overwhelmed teacher who says “…I can’t get there from here.” I’m sure she echoes the thoughts of many new teachers as they try to responsibly do everything they are asked to do and then more! How soon will we lose them to other professions? Hopefully, the ideas of All Kinds of Minds can be a stepping off point and not another “system” of something else to do so they can truly use it as a tool to help students learn.

  8. I am a teacher in South Africa and attended the All Kinds of Minds Programme in Oakland CAL. I was able to get the book ” Educational Care” and subsequently developed workshops for our teachers based on the book. Part of the course is a gift of a ” What I have noticed” notebook which teachers keep on their tables and just jot down what they have noticed about the children. They then share this at their meetings and are able to identify strengths, weaknesses and affinities of their children. this is still in the beginning phases but I am delighted to hear the staff talking about a child who battles with material organisation skills, how they can cross curricular sequencing as they have noticed that many children find it a challenge. They are using a common language, but it is a language that relates to the solution rather than problems. We have class sizes of 30 – 40 children and one can be overwhelmed by the children and all their needs, but the neurudevelopmental framework is helping us to focus on what we are seeing and then we can also find a solution.

  9. I am a Special Educator and do teacher training also in India. I have found the Neurodevelopmental Systems framework very useful both in my own teaching as well as in training teachers. It is very important to have this kind of a structure in place in our minds as we observe the students and thenplan their instruction.

    It is only when we are structured can we be creative. The framework povides a point from where to take off into creativity.

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