Taking a Step Back
March 21st, 2016
If there is one thing we know about Liam it’s that he likes Sonja the glassblower. Actually, Liam likes a lot of things but especially anything he can do with his hands. Liam is always wearing loombands and bracelets that he has made. He is doing fantastically at his work experience placement in the Scrap Store using die cutters. At college he enjoys cooking and pottery classes. But nothing makes Liam more excited than knowing he has a day working at Sonja’s glass studio.
Liam had visited the studio before when he made paperweights and candle holders (which looked amazing) so I knew he would have an idea of what was in store. I had supported Liam there before, but I knew this time the task was going to be a little more complex. I don’t do glasswork. How do I support someone to do something I know nothing about? I had supported at the studio before, but what did I actually do? This time I decided to make a conscious effort to reflect throughout the day and not just at the end and see how I could improve my interactions.
At the start of the day I was very much in the same boat as Liam. We both observed Sonja, listening to her explain her processes, both of us amazed at how simple it all looked. Suddenly she had made a perfectly straight glass tumbler… no problem. Now it was Liam’s go. His tumbler was great for a first attempt, only a little wonky. I reflected on my performance. I had remembered the steps, but I had hovered around him and used a few too many instructions at once. Time for me to change tack.
I decided to step back so that Liam could be supported by Sonja more. After all, she is the expert. I positioned myself so I was near enough to observe and involve myself if needed. I had noticed where Liam had struggled most and decided to step in then. When he picked up the jacks to open up the tumbler I repositioned myself so I was next to him. I rephrased Sonja’s instructions ensuring only the keywords were used so as not to overwhelm him, and before the molten glass was brought over to Liam I demonstrated, hand over hand, how far and straight he needed to hold the jacks
Success! The improvement was amazing. By reflecting right away I was able to change tack, step back, and communicate more effectively. And Liam just kept on improving.