The Basics of Mindful Guiding

In RDI®️️, we often talk about Mindful Guiding. It is an important part of the RDI®️️ Model! What does it mean? 

Mindful Guides, Mindful Guiding & the Mindful Guiding Relationship are terms that refer to the way that we address the Guiding Relationship in the RDI®️️ Program as an aware, informed, personalized and ‘mindful’ form of guiding. Mindful guides are those persons who have learned to mindfully apply the guiding principles we have specifically tailored to develop those mental processes that are essential for lifelong success in complex, mentally and emotionally challenging real-world environments. 

The process of Mindful Guiding has two different functions: Support functions and Management functions.

Below is a breakdown of each of those functions and how they relate to you, the Mindful Guide. 

Support Functions are divided into three areas:  Providing Affordances, Constructing Consensual Frames and Scaffolding Student Growth

Providing Affordances

Affordances represent the ways that Mindful Guides modify elements of the learning environment, based on a student’s unique vulnerabilities. Affordances are provided to reduce the need for students to allocate critical mental resources to those elements of challenging situations, that due to the student’s unique vulnerabilities, are highly resource depleting, but not central to the current growth objective.

Forming Consensual Frames

Framing constitutes those actions taken by Mindful Guides to increase the consensual meaning and significance of their joint engagements with Mental Apprentices. This includes clarifying engagement functions and structure, role-relationships, behavioral and communication limits, critical information and anticipated highlights.

Scaffolding Student Growth

Scaffolding refers to the ways in which Mindful Guides function as temporary mediators between Apprentices and the real-world new developmental steps that they are moving towards. Guides serve as a  “just-sufficient” bridge for the Apprentice between the known and “not-yet-known”, acting and communicating in a manner that supports apprentices in productively engaging with the primary engagement function.

Mindful Guide management functions are also broken into three areas: Managing student growth, managing personal experiences, and managing the stages of guiding engagements.

Managing Student Growth

The approach to growth employed by Mindful Guides uses the One-Step-Ahead approach (based on Russian Psychologist Lev Vygotsky’s concept of the ‘Zone of Proximal Development’.) The function of the model is for students to make continual step-by-step progress towards mastery by engaging on an ongoing basis with challenges that are just a bit above their current level of competence. 

Each new ‘step’ represents a small increase in difficulty from a known area of student competence. The size of any “step” depends on what the Guide learns, about the student’s current learning capacity. 

Every “step” selected by a Mindful Guide is not always going to be correct. However, because steps are constructed to be very small expansions of current areas of functioning and because Mindful Guides are continually assessing the EDGE of student functioning, it is rare that a step will be too far off the mark. Steps that turn out to be too difficult or not challenging enough can be quickly adjusted. 

Experience Managing

Beginning Mindful Guides often assume that there will be a one-to-one relationship between what they believe happens in a guiding engagement and what the apprentice actually encodes as an experiential memory about that engagement. This false belief is probably the number one reason for a lack of progress. If Mindful Guides do not separate what they observe externally, including smiles and other positive emotion indicators, with what the child actually encodes and stores following an engagement, they will wind up feeling mystified each time what appeared to be a mutually enjoyable productive guiding engagement is followed by the child’s lack of desire for future engagement, or other ways that they will fail to benefit. 

It is important for Mindful Guides to learn how take steps to increase the probability that the apprentice will actually form a desired experiential memory and also that they will connect the particular memory to a growing collection of memories involving a growing sense of pleasure, trust and agency associated with their participation in guiding engagements.


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