Claire Merbaum

Educator & Learning Specialist

I build learning strategies and intervention programs for young people, parents, and teachers to foster sustainable thinking and communication skills for life.

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About Me

My life's work revolves around helping students with learning difficulties become more independent and successful learners, while also empowering parents and educators to help bring about these lasting changes.

About

Mediated Learning is about breaking through confusion. Learning difficulties affect more than just classroom performance; problem-solving skills, organizational ability, motivation, and even basic social skills can be impacted by challenges in the thinking process.

Over 20 years of utilizing the Feuerstein Method with learners of all ages, my goal has always been the same: to understand and remediate the student's thinking process and developing customized strategies for turning "I can't" into "How can I?" This philosophy informed the techniques used by myself and my staff at the Toronto Centre for Mediated Learning, which I founded in 1999 and directed until 2014.

As a "cognitive education specialist", I bring the worlds of education and psychology together into a unique, well-rounded approach to learning and metacognition. My students learn how to learn by becoming aware of their thinking processes, developing a positive attitude toward learning, and turning thinking strategies into thinking habits that stick around for life.

I have been fortunate to work with many different types of students, and also to demonstrate the value of Mediated Learning techniques to teachers, parents, therapists, and other educators through various consultations and workshops developed from my academic studies in psychology, hands-on clinical experience, and extensive training at the Feuerstein Institute. My practice has now grown wider to include pedagogical evaluations and programming recommendations, workshops focusing on best-practices in literacy education, and case management for students with special learning needs.

I have had the pleasure of travelling around the world to conduct workshops and work with children and teachers in different cultures. My latest adventure has brought me to The Robert Muller LIFE School in Panajachel, Guatemala, with my husband and two school-aged children.

I am fluent in Spanish and Hebrew.

Education

DEGREES

University of Toronto (OISE)
Doctor of Philosophy Candidate -- Developmental Psychology and Education (2014; dissertation in progress)
University of Toronto (OISE)
Master of Arts -- School and Child-Clinical Psychology (1998)
York University
Honours Bachelor of Arts -- Psychology (1994)

CERTIFICATES

2012
Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment -- Level 1 (Basic)
2002
Dynamic Assessment of Young Learners (David Tzuriel)
2000 - 2001
Trainer of Teachers: Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment
1995 - 1997
Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment, Standard -- Levels 1-3
1995
Dynamic Assessment: Learning Potential Assessment Device

Experience

Professional Experience

Robert Muller LIFE International School (2014 - present)
Director of Curriculum & Instruction
Toronto Centre for Mediated Learning (1999 - 2014)
Founder & Director, Practitioner, Teacher-Trainer
Beth Jacob High School (2008 - 2014)
Teacher and Special Education Consultant, Staff Development
Kol Koreh Literacy (RTI) Program (2009 - 2012)
Founding Educational Director
Paul Penna Downtown Jewish Day School (2004 - 2009)
Student Services Coordinator & Learning Specialist
ICELP (Feuerstein Institute), Israel (1994 - 1995)
Intern, Overseas Clinical Department
Dellcrest Children’s Mental Health Centre (1993 - 1994)
Community Outreach Program Worker

Other

Toronto Heschel School
Board Member (2013)
IRI Inc.
Master Trainer (2012)
Access Education Guatemalan Children's Fund Education
Board Member (2007)
North American Feuerstein Alliance
Founding Member (2007)
Feuerstein Institute
Authorized Training Associate (1995)
Languages
English, Spanish, Hebrew

My Approach

The Feuerstein Method: Mediated Learning

My approach is firmly rooted in the teachings of renowned Professor Reuven Feuerstein, yet is also flexible enough to incorporate current best-practices in education and psychology.

Professor Reuven Feuerstein (1921 -2014) was the world renowned cognitive psychologist and researcher in the field of child development who pioneered the philosophy that intellectual and cognitive functioning can be altered in a structural way, regardless of age, diagnosis, or current IQ score. His gift to the world was that of the “Mediated Learning Experience”, which provides the theory, assessment tools, and intervention techniques necessary to enable these cognitive changes to occur. In this view, intelligence is measured not by how much a student has learned but by how well a student can learn. Once we understand the potential to shape a learner's mind, we find ourselves presented with a wealth of options to facilitate constructive change that turns "learning difficulties" into positive learning habits.

With the Professor, Paris, July 2012

What Prof. Feuerstein theorized over 50 years ago, neuroscience has now proven. Intelligence can be learned, and Mediated Learning is the way to teach it. I was fortunate to train with the Professor himself over the course of many years, and have been continually building on his teachings to incorporate the emerging insights of academic educators and psychologists.

Testimonials
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  • "Claire Merbaum has been a tremendous boon for our school. Her professionalism, courtesy and respect have made it a pleasure to work with her. Ms. Merbaum has been a veritable fount of wisdom, insight and creativity as she lends her expertise and vast knowledge of reading skills to our school. She has continuously made herself available to us at a moment’s notice and conducts her many sojourns in our school with class and vivaciousness."

    - Head of K-8 private school

  • "Through her skilled guidance, Claire Merbaum has enhanced my skills as a literacy teacher and I have been exposed to new and exciting methods to help children achieve fluency and become enthusiastic, happy readers."

    - Resource Teacher

  • "From the get go, Claire made my child feel comfortable and enjoy his time working with the activities in the assessment. She provided my son with positive feedback about his strengths, and very naturally engaged him in discussion about the challenges he was facing and practical solutions that he could use on a daily basis. As well, the verbal and written feedback that Claire provided to the school gave the teachers a deeper understanding of my son, as well as useful strategies for the classroom. Claire provided everyone involved in this process with a fresh outlook!"

    - Mother of grade 2 student

  • "The Mediated Learning Experience Workshop brought me into the world of the child and helped me experience his challenges, feel his frustrations, understand his needs, and arm me with strategies to lead him to success."

    - Elementary school principal

  • "After taking this Instrument Enrichment certification workshop, I no longer ask myself if I can help the child, I now ask myself how I can help, because I now have a reservoir of strategies that I can turn to."

    - Elementary and high school teacher

  • "I have now realized that it doesn’t matter how good of a teacher you are, for if we cannot teach a child to learn on their own, and if we cannot help the child get to a new level of independence, then we have failed as teachers."

    - Middle school teacher

Specialties

Dynamic Assessment

Dynamic Assessments (LPAD) uncover underlying cognitive deficits that contribute to learning and thinking obstacles. The assessment examines how a child approaches novel tasks, and how his/her performance improves throughout the Mediated Learning Experience.

The process begins with a baseline test to determine current ability, and behavioural responses to new challenges. Next a Mediated Learning Experience is offered, to see how the student’s approach to new challenges can be modified. The student is then given a series of tasks to perform without mediation, so the assessor can document the full extent of the changed behaviour.

Consultations & Training

The ability to learn does not rest with the student alone. It takes a village to shape new learning pathways. My consultations with parents, teachers and school administrators include examining the results of Dynamic Assessments, whereby we engage in detailed conversation focused on gaining greater understanding of the underpinnings of a child’s challenges. This meeting is vital in reframing the current view of what is necessary and possible for change. Practical strategies and programming recommendations are devised to enhance success not only in the classroom, but in life, in general.

I provide formal certification training for educators in the Instrumental Enrichment cognitive intervention program, and also develop customized Professional Development workshops within the school setting. These workshops are based on the applications of the Mediated Learning Experience, in combination with current educational topics (e.g., Executive Function, best-practices in literacy education), as well as focused on providing solutions to any challenges that a school may be facing.

Intervention

Over the years, several organizations have engaged me to design and implement evidence-based intervention programs that identify students requiring closer support in the classroom, and to provide them with a personalized remediation strategy.

A key part of this work has been to design a durable institutional framework and then recruit, train, and supervise a comprehensive team of educators and learning specialists.

Research & Evaluation

Through my graduate studies and professional experience, I have conducted empirical research on the effects of various intervention programs and strategies on student achievement across several cultures and contexts.

I perform comprehensive evidence-based evaluations of literacy and remedial support programs, as well as teacher observation, curriculum review, and an analysis of pedagogical tools and materials. I also perform more formal studies of larger populations for specific purposes.

Contact me