I first came across this term whilst attending a presentation by Prof. David Clarke (Melbourne University) at the annual MAV conference.
Kikan-Shido is a Japanese term which literally “means ‘between desks instruction’ where the teacher walks around the classroom, predominantly monitoring or guiding student activity, and may or may not speak or otherwise interact with the students”.
The Learner’s Perspective Study (LPS) of mathematics classrooms worldwide, has identified the following lesson events: “Beginning the Lesson, Learning Tasks, Student at the Front, Guided Development, Setting the Task, Walking Between Desks, and Summing Up” (Clarke, 2004).
In Prof. David Clarke’s paper: “Kikan-Shido – Between Desks Instruction” (2004); he identifies from his research that the Australian form of ‘kikan-shido’ is quite different from most of our international colleagues. I quote:
“For the Australian teachers, the activity of “between desks instruction” appeared to have at least three principal functions: (i) monitoring and encouraging current on-task activity, (ii) actively scaffolding this on-task activity, and, sometimes, (iii) monitoring the completion of homework. On many occasions teachers would kneel or sit beside a student (or students) and engage them in conversation about the task they were attempting”.
Personally I try to keep the initial teacher centred lecture from the front of the classroom to a minimum. Once students begin their learning tasks, I spend a lot of time in ‘kikan-shido’. It is during this time that I can:
(i) build rapport with students,
(ii) check understanding and progress, and
(iii) reassure students that they are doing well and praise their effort.
Adding these three aspects to my teaching, I feel that the class works much better, with mutual respect for each other and shared responsibility for learning. An experiment by Paul Ainsworth at Belvoir High School, in part supports this contention. I quote:
“I think that teachers sometimes forget that the first thing most pupils are looking for is reassurance that they are doing the right thing, and/or that we respect their efforts. Without that initial support, the formative comment can seem negative to the pupil. They can perceive being told what to do to reach the next level as criticism rather than support. ‘I thought I’d done really well and you’ve just written three things here which I need to do next time… I don’t understand.”
Although I am comfortable with my ‘kikan-shido’, I feel that I need to improve my ‘matome’ (summing up).