Oct 6, 2016

My interdisciplinary connection map

This was quite a taxing task to start with - firstly just trying to ascertain what interdisciplinary actually means.

Andrews (1990) defines interdisciplinary collaboration as occurring "when different professionals, possessing unique knowledge, skills, organizational perspectives, and personal attributes, engage in coordinated problem solving for a common purpose" (cited in Berg-Weger & Schneider, 1998).

Once I began they seemed to flow into different areas as can be seen by the map...additions kept popping into my head, so this image has now been changed five times.

See ONLINE with active links http://tinyurl.com/h3plnr7

As to focusing on one - tough call. I have decided to focus on my TEAM and my Team Leader as my interdisciplinary future focus as this is the plan in the forefront after completing my teacher inquiry aspect. This area for future focus will incorporate a variety of skill bases and can easily be thought of as interdisciplinary. My Team Leader has the skills [and has been doing this for many years) for running effective Mindfulness training in her classroom; a team colleague effectively runs a brainology type programme at the beginning of every year in her room; my proposal is to combine these expertise and knowledge with my goal to focus on Growth Mindset and begin a study on the effects and possible positives of running such programmes in conjunction with each other on the learners in my room. Also combining the outside expertise of Carol Dweck's information and Sentis productions. Jones (2009) cited interdisciplinary benefits as having a “wider knowledge base”, “wider personality base”, and a “wider design, teaching, and assessment methods to draw on and thus more balance in the overall approach” (Haynes, 2002, p.19). Reading a fellow Mindlabbers blog, which I will continue to follow with interest, has also inspired this interdisciplinary future plan of action. Dion Paxie has been running some interesting mindfulness activities on a daily basis and has through his blog he has inspired me to purchase books they have used as well as trial a few myself. Now to implement the plan in the new school year to see the overall effect it has on the students who have a ‘I can't do it’ attitude.

 Our focus would be to combine the knowledge and understanding of all three of us to create a programme that enriches and benefits our learners from the beginning of the year. We might also see if the combined ideals have any discernable or observable benefits to some of our learners, particularly those with fixed mindsets. Jones stated (2009) “the interdisciplinary approach is a team-taught enhancement of student performance, an integration of methodology and pedagogy, and a much needed lifelong learning skill” (p.3).  One would hope that as Jones (2009) suggests the “students and their teachers will advance in critical thinking, communication, creativity, pedagogy, and essential academia with the use interdisciplinary techniques” (p.5). Our interdisciplinary focus would follow a clear plan of action.

Initially students will be taught about a growth mindset, what it is and how it can affect their learning. They will be taught specifically about the workings of the brain and how this can benefit their learning using ‘Your Fantastic Elastic Brain Stretch It, Shape It’ (JoAnn M. Deak) and the ‘Mindup Curriculum’ as well as using Mindfulness Made Easy cd of exercises by Renew Your Mind. Boaler, 2013, commented on the teaching of the brain in schools being critically important and learning about its plasticity in improving students’ attitudes. “Research shows the plasticity of the brain and the ability of students to develop smartness through hard work and challenge” (p.145, p.150). Students will also be taught some mindfulness techniques and strategies, together with their peers.  According to Mrnjaus & Krneta, 2014, our subconscious and conscious minds are always searching for a 'handrail' to hold on to. This 'handrail' can be someone’s belief, spiritual thought or unknown energy, and it is something our minds perceive as true, this 'handrail' is called creative energy (p.1048). If we start to develop and challenge the subconscious attitude of the student we can start to change their mindset, which affects their ability to learn and achieve.  Mindfulness can begin to create a more positive subconscious brain and therefore improve the mindset of the student; the challenge will be whether we observe this change in students and teachers over the research period. We would need to incorporate some of Andrew Fullers ‘resilience’ training ideas too. The intention will also be to focus on how we as educators give feedback to students and how the students give feedback to each other. Lesson time during each week would focus on effective feedback strategies. The focus needs to move from being achievement based feedback or natural talent based to effort based; it needs to focus on the students understanding their steps to success and how their effort to achieve it is progressing.

http://tinyurl.com/hjzjkjb created by https://creately.com/
All these skills based teachings and knowledge from different people should prove to be a fascinating incite into the learners attitudes and minds as well as our own in a lot of respects. As the focus will not be a specific inquiry it should make for an interesting and adaptive learning focus over the year, which will encompass all aspects of our timetable and curriculum while also developing some life-long skills.

Barton, K. C., & Smith, L. A. (2000). Themes or Motifs? Aiming for coherence through interdisciplinary outlines. Retrieved from http://auburn.edu/~silvesb/smicha/Barton&Smith.pdf
Boaler, J. (2013). Ability and Mathematics: The Mindset Revolution that Is Reshaping Education. FORUM: For Promoting 3-19 Comprehensive Education, 55(1), 143–152. http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2013.55.1.143
Jones, C. (2009). Interdisciplinary Approach - Advantages, Disadvantages, and the Future Benefits of Interdisciplinary Studies, 7(2009), 1–6. Retrieved from http://dc.cod.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1121&context=essai
Mathison, S., & Freeman, M. (1997). The Logic of Interdisciplinary Studies. Retrieved from http://www.albany.edu/cela/reports/mathisonlogic12004.pdf
Mrnjaus, K., & Krneta, M. (2014). Mindfulness, Concentration and Student Achievement – Challenges and Solutions. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 116, 1044–1049. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.343
Mulligan, L. M., & Kuban, D. A. J. (2015). A Conceptual Model for Interdisciplinary Collaboration. Retrieved from http://acrlog.org/2015/05/14/a-conceptual-model-for-interdisciplinary-collaboration./


  1. I agree starting this blog on Interdisciplinary seemed airy fairy - not knowing the meaning of Interdisciplinary having to find it and then comprehending it was a struggle. I think you have done a great job and like you said once you start your Interdisciplinary map you continually think of more you can add. This a great idea we have the same at our school we have teacher expert in mindfulness and a teacher who runs an emotional and social brain time in his class. Combine one of teachers who has been to MindLab with a passion for Growth Mindset what a combo! I look forward to your findings on the possible positives when you set this Interdisciplinary into action...

  2. Hi, I also agree and struggled to get my head around the task this week. Thank you for sharing your post and once I read yours it helped me to get mine started. Sounds like you are very lucky to have such great expertise in your school especially in the areas of mindfulness and brainology. Bringing those altogether sounds like a great way to benefit your students. Hope all goes well and I'm looking forward to hearing how your new approach works out next year.
    Thanks Claire Hudson