Weekly Tribes 2012-2013 “Tableau”

Simply defined, a tableau is a ‘living picture’.  It may be one person, or better yet, several, who pose in a scene that depicts emotion, action, and tells a story (or a bit of one).

This is also a great strategy for introducing, as well as reviewing opportunities for I-messages.

Gail, a trainer and college professor in Canada used ‘tableau’ with her students to depict scenes of bullying actions.  Students played various roles (bully-victim-bystanders) and then reflected on feelings and actions.

I recently used this strategy with students in grade 1 through 5, to identify feelings, clarify agreements, and prompt some discussion about ‘perception vs. reality’.  Teachers tableau-ed a scene (two of us whispering and pointing to a third participant) that students interpreted as negative – gossiping, making fun of someone, being bullies…and were surprised to learn that we were whispering about how much we liked the cute shirt she was wearing.  This led to a discussion about what we ‘think’ is going on on the playground, ‘tattling’, etc.

Then, sitting in community circle, we divided the circle in half.  The teacher named a situation (attentive listening to a guest speaker, having just received a put down, just watched someone do something very wrong, etc.) and on the command “tableau”, one half of the circle posed in the action, while the other half enjoyed the creative and accurate diversity.  We did this back and forth a few times, and then put students into pairs.  We wrote a variety of emotions on the board and each pair took turns tableau-ing feelings for their partner to guess.  Wrong answers were just as important as right answers in reflecting on feelings and how they are interpreted.

Lastly, a reflection on how to use a ‘tableau’ response in learning.  Think ‘kinesthetic intelligence’?!  Students can ‘tableau’ a seen from a story, their level of understanding a math concept, what a group working well together looks like, a happy playground scene, a step in the scientific method, etc.