Tony Gurr

Archive for the ‘Adult Educators’ Category

Why on Earth Do We Need Teacher Training?

In Adult Educators, Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Guest BLOGGERS, Our Universities, Teacher Learning on 28/04/2015 at 5:52 am

Adams Quote (for Steve)

I have had intriguing tidings from some of my final year learners recently.  They are currently engaged in their second semester of “school experience,” where they spend one day a week under the tutelage of their mentor educators in local high schools.  In theory they are supposed to watch their mentors in the first term, and gradually be allowed to assume responsibility for teaching their classes in the second.  In the end they are asked to teach one, perhaps two entire classes on their own.

 Thinkers wanted (blog ver 02 TG)

The idea sounds a practical one – it’s often best to learn the rudiments of teaching from a professional.  In practice what has happened is this:  learners spend most of their time sitting at the back of the classroom watching their mentors undertake a series of repetitive exercises involving little or no language practice – gap-filling, cloze procedure and the like.  They are easy to mark and require the educator to undertake little or no extra-curricular activity.  It’s an easy way to pass the time in class.

Consequently many learners have complained of wasting their time on “school experience.” Not only do they have little or no involvement in classroom activity, but they are introduced to the jobsworth mentality in which educators do the minimum amount necessary to keep their learners amused and collect their salaries at the end of the week.  When the learners are given the space to teach their own classes, they are told to do the same gap-filling activities, as their mentors cannot be bothered to think up anything new.

 21C LEARNing Culture (TG ver 02 upgrade)

I am not in any way suggesting that this state of affairs prevails at every high school; I have encountered many enthusiastic educators willing to challenge existing approaches to pedagogy.  But what proves particularly disconcerting is that this jobsworth mentality is allowed to prevail at any institution.  It suggests that all the teacher training initiatives spearheaded by the British Council, the book publishers and other institutions have little or no influence on the way in which educators handle the day-to-day business of working with their learners.  Resources are spent to little effect – except, perhaps, to encourage institutions to spend more money on glossy textbooks and thereby increase author royalties.

Is there any possibility for change, or at least create the conditions for change?  Institutionally speaking, the prospect is a pessimistic one: many educators are so imbued with the jobsworth mentality that they perceive little or no reason to change their methods.  Even if they wanted to change, there is little or no incentive to do so.  Personal development assumes less significance than the monthly pay-check.  Even if individuals want to change, they will have to negotiate with their superiors, who might disagree with their views entirely.  Why rock the boat when things are going fine?

 Hocam will this be on the test

Perhaps the only workable solution is to begin from the ground up: to find ways outside the institution to set up initiatives dedicated not to teacher training per se, but to investigate methods of learning, both virtual as well as face-to-face.  This might require us to rethink the way institutions work – perhaps technology needs to assume a more important role in facilitating communication between educators and learners.  Much of the teacher training I’ve encountered has been fundamentally top-down in approach; follow the example of the trainer (like the mentor educator), and you too can learn how to work in class.  I’d favor a flipped approach, in which educators tried to listen to their learners and reshaped their classroom strategies accordingly.  Undergraduate learners could be made part of the collaborative process; the insights they have acquired in the three years of their university curricula might prove invaluable in creating new learning strategies.  While jobsworth educators are difficult to shift, there are still opportunities available to create new generations of educators with a genuine and lasting commitment to listening to and learning from their learners.  Who knows – even the learners might want to become educators in the future.

 Creativity (Einstein Quote ver 03)

Yet time is running out: frustrations increase.  My fourth-year learners have a disillusioned view of their chosen profession.  For them it is not a matter of learning about the way people think and react, but simply a matter of rehearsing time-honored drills practiced by their mentors.  Perhaps the teacher training institutions and the publishers need to rethink their approach to working with institutions; rather than trying to foist their products on their so-called ‘customers,’ they might be better advised to take a lengthy time out and listen to what people want, especially those at the lowest end of the pedagogical scale.  Otherwise we are simply reinventing an educational wheel which will very soon come off the axle that drives it.

Laurence Raw

Ankara, Turkey – 27 Apr. 2015

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Some THUNKS on Giving a Conference Paper (from GUEST BLOGGER Laurence Raw)

In Adult Educators, Conferences, Guest BLOGGERS, Research on 23/10/2014 at 5:33 pm

What if 06

One of the essential aspects of any academic (or educator’s) existence is the need to give papers at conferences.  This not only demonstrates a commitment to research, but provides an opportunity to share one’s insights with others in the field.

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Unfortunately things seldom work out like that.  I have been to many events where academics and graduate students simply come in, deliver their papers as fast as possible, answer a few questions and then leave.  One more notch on the résumé; another step accomplished in the search for a better job.

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Best way to be BORING (Voltaire quote)

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Even if delegates do stay, their style of presentation often prevents listeners from understanding precisely what they want to say.  Even in these days of unlimited technical innovation, the majority of presenters still choose to read aloud from printed sheets of paper and/or the iPad without actually looking at their audiences.  They also fail to grasp the fact that a paper written for academic readers is fundamentally different from a conference paper; in a conference the watchword is simplicity of style, enabling the interlocutors to understand precisely what the presenter is saying.  While reading a paper aloud is quite permissible – especially for those who are unconfident about speaking in public – but it should be read in such a way that listeners can understand what the writer is trying to say.  Gabbling one’s words just induces boredom.

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For the last few years or so, the popular vogue amongst presenters has been to summarize their arguments on PowerPoint presentationsFair enough; but care needs to be taken as to how they are constructed.  Each slide should have as few words on it as possible, and such words should be printed in a font that enables everyone to understand them.  Images should be simple yet powerful, and support what the presenter is saying; it’s no use simply summarizing the content of one’s presentation on slides, and expecting audiences to understand it.

Death 028

I could go on at length about the so-called ‘guidelines’ for conference presentation, but I’d rather prefer to turn the argument round and look at the issues facing anyone confronted with the need to present their work in public.

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Yesterday I had to give a piece to an audience of learners and senior faculty members.  My voice is not really powerful enough at present to project to the back of an oblong-shaped hall, so I used my microphone – or enhancer – as an aid; I feel rather like one of those presenters on a television quiz show, with the microphone hanging over my ears and the speaker close to my mouth.  Entering the hall at eleven o’clock gave me a few butterflies; I had to entertain an audience of fifty-plus people with an age-range from the late teens to retirement-age, all looking at me (or not looking at me) in expectation.  The only means I had to sustain my attention were my voice and a few images (if I wanted to use them).

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I experienced the feelings shared by every conference presenter at every event: how can I cope with the forthcoming ordeal?  The only way I could deal with this was to imagine myself like a high diver jumping off the board into a swimming-pool (or creek) several feet below me; I had to jump and subsequently trust in my own abilities to land safely.  If I failed, I would hurt myself (mentally, at least).  This was precisely what I did: armed only with a small notebook with a few ideas scribbled down, I began to talk.  To try and maintain audience interest, I kept looking at them; my head moved from side to side, then to the front and back of the hall.  If I saw someone’s eyes moving away from me, I made my best efforts to rescue their interest by glancing briefly at them.  Sometimes the technique worked; on other occasions I knew the task was beyond me.  Or maybe I was wrong: someone once told me that people’s listening strategies are often very different: when they seem outwardly uninterested, they are in fact taking note of what is being said and trying to make sense of it.

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Twilight Zone 01b (TG edit).jpg

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As I warmed to my argument, so my confidence grew.  I departed a little from my prepared script and illustrated my speech with anecdotes.  Some of them worked (in the sense of drawing a reaction from the audience); others fell flat as a pancake.  Nonetheless, I kept going; whatever my audience thought of my presentation, I was enjoying myself.  I had dived into the pool and was now swimming happily.

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The presentation ended, and the audience applauded.  There had been a few laughs; indeed, some of the audience had exchanged banter with me, which proved most satisfying.  At least I had appealed to their sense of fun.  I was sweating with excitement – I felt beads of perspiration on my brow – but at least I had done what I was expected to do.

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What did this experience tell me about delivering papers? 

I think I realized once more that audiences react in unpredictable ways: when they appear not to be listening, they might be interested; when they look at me, they might be thinking of something completely different.  To deliver a presentation not only involved speaking abilities but body language too: looking at your audience is of paramount importance.  Hence I’ve avoided reading papers verbatim for several years now.  If you, as the speaker, feel you’ve done your very best to communicate your enthusiasm for the topic under discussion, then your paper has been a success.

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REFLECTION 06 (Socrates quote)

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Enthusiasm” is an important term here:

…just doing a conference paper for the sake of it is a waste of time!

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And, above all, if you can try to deal with your inevitable nerves and realize that conference papers should be FUN, for yourself and for your listeners, then you’re well on the way to becoming a good speaker.  At least, I hope so anyway.

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Laurence Raw (aka @laurenceraw on Twitter)

Baskent University – Ankara, Turkey
Editor: Journal of American Studies of Turkey
http://baskent.academia.edu/LaurenceRaw
http://www.radiodramareviews.com

Teacher LEARNing, PD, CPD, Training….wotever! When are we going to get it ‘right’?

In Adult Educators, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training on 13/07/2013 at 8:06 am

TEACHer THUNKS on CPD

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As you can see from those little images, all is not well in the State of Teacher LEARNing, PD, CPD, Training (delete as you “prefer”) – and not just in the sense that I outlined in my last post!

Indeed, when we try to speak to many TEACHers about their PD or professional LEARNing – more often than not, we get a response like this:

Dont make me use my TEACHer voice (TG ver)

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But, maybe…that’s half the problem?

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When we do ask TEACHers to use their voice on allthingsCPD, we tend to find that many of them are split into TWO camps:

CPD (two camps)

…but this is to the “untrained” ear!

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When we dig a little deeper (and I’m more interested in the “unsmiley group” – that is the problem), what we actually hear them saying is things like this:

PD is crap 01

…and a couple of other things, too:

PD is crap 02

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To put it quite bluntly – many of the “solutions” are thereright in front of our eyes!

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason…proportionate use is the key.

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Sure, there many be issues with money and funding (isn’t there always?) – get creative with sponsors! If we really value LEARNing (of the TEACHer variety – and we should), we’ll find a way to trim some “fat” and inject it where it “matters”. Yes, and there might be one or two malcontents out there (in our staffrooms) who will give us a hard time…whatever we do.

Hey, that’s life…deal!

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but...

…the fact remains that…most TEACHers are human beings, too (!) – they too are imagineered for LEARNing…they love LEARNing new things…new stuff…new ways of promoting student LEARNing

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The LEARNing opportunities we provide them just need it to be “fit-for-purpose”…to be convenient…to be useful…and FUN (but not just a “laugh-and-giggle show”)…

Gamification 02

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There’s been a few really good posts thrown into the blogosphere of late – many of them offer some great THUNKS on how to get it right:

Blogger (still ignore you)

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Adam Bellow did a lovely post based on FOUR critical wordsPD: Four Ways to Start Changing the World This Summer

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Josh Round did one some time back (but I only found it this week) – What to Put in the CPD Pot – full of sensible practical ideas.

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Med Kharback (aka @medkh9) put an EDtech and DIY “spin” on professional development in his post – Top 8 EdTech Tools for Teacher CPD.

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Laura Conley gets us to think about “flipping” (no, not THAT type !) with her great post – 7 Steps To Flipped Professional Development (first appeared on gettingsmart.com).

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@WhatEdSaid (aka Edna Sackson) made a storming return to the blogosphere with her – 10 Principles of Effective Professional LEARNing… – a post that stretches us to be “thunking doers” not just “PD delivery boys” (and girls)!

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LEARNing (cannot be delivered) Ver 02

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…and….ONE more:

Susan Lucille Davis gave us her – What Teachers Really Want – a post that every PD Coordinator, Training Manager or EDUboss should take note of (TEACHers, too)!

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All good stuff!

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But, then again…it’s always better to hear the voices of our own TEACHers!

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When Spoon-feeding the “Kids” is NOT Enough… (not a RE-boot)!

In Adult Educators, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training, The Paradigm Debate on 09/07/2013 at 11:53 am

Spoonfeeding TEACHers 02

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This was a question a very irate TEACHer-cum-PARENT asked me the other week. She was, of course, talking about LEARNing our kids to feed themselves.

“They are turning my kid into a little test-drone” – she told me. Here, she was talking about her child’s school…and, probably, she wasn’t far wrong.

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Most of our schools are firmly grounded on 4 ways of “doing business”:

Spoonfeeding TEACHers 03

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Yeah…sorry about that – but, if it’s any consolation, that little image up there took me ages to do…guess I was making up for that last, imagesiz blog post I did.

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I don’t want to get into all of them – one-by-one – and, besides, most of you know what I thunks:

LEARNing (cannot be delivered) Ver 02

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You also know…in your heart-of-hearts that:

High Grades and LEARNers (Wiggins quote)

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I do not really care how many practice books, online resources, mock tests, or so-called “extra-curriculuar” tutoring sessions a school offers its kids…if these materials or opportunities are of the just-in-case, EXAMocracy type (rather than the just-in-time, LEARNing type) – the result is the same.

Pigeon holes (even of the “multiple intelligence variety”) are too small for our kids!

Hey, I did manage to cover them all!

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Twilight Zone 01b (TG edit).jpg

However, the story did not stop there.

I got a call from one of the “team” at the school (where my friend sends her kid) – quite by co-incidence.

They wanted me to to come to their school at the end of August and…wait for it…. “deliver a lecture” to their TEACHers…a 60-minute lecture, no less / no more (because, I was told, TEACHers cannot focus for more than 50-60 minutes) on….wait for it… “creativity with the new textbooks they have adopted” .

Do they not know me…at all?

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HULK (keep calm TG Ver)

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To add insult to injury…they also asked me if I knew any other native-speakers that would be prepared to come a give a 60-minute session on…and this was the killer… “any topic they wanted!

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The SECRET (Expletive)

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Now, I’m not going to get into the whole “NS vs. NNS TEACHer thingy” (though I would really love toI would)! But, it’s worth exploring some of the the other underlying assumptions…behind this seemingly simple request.

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There are many schools (and universities, too) out there that are basically looking for a way to “fill up” the Summer schedules of their TEACHers…called back to work far too early…when nothing of much value has been planned.

Now, I’m not saying this is the case here…Vallahi Billahi…(yep, Google Translate still sucks!) – but the request “smelled” of something…something very fishy!

Balik bastan kokar (TR ver)

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Why would a school want to invite a speaker or trainer to “do” a session on “anything they wanted” ?

Thunk about that for a minute…

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Even worse…why (oh, bloody why) would they want someone to come and deliver a lecture on a topic area or theme that is clearly so grounded on critical thunking, classroom practice and collaborative co-creation?

We’re talking about “creativity“, guys – not exam prep classes!

Duh (TG ver 4 blog)

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Now, call me old-fashioneddoesn’t happen very often…but I’m OK with it.

I’ve always believed that:

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The ART of TEACHing (van Doren quote) Ver 02

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…it just makes sense that TEACHer LEARNing (TRAINing, even – though I do prefer my other term), should follow the same principle…similar processes.

You know, all that stuff about “walking-our-talk” and “being the change we want to see in the classroom” –

posing and answering questions together,

working stuff out together,

solving real problemsTOGETHER!

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Motivation (the CHALLENGE)

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But, then again, maybe some schools just feel it’s easier to “manage” their TEACHers…when they manage their “diet”, too!

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Feeding our TEACHers is important…

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The problem is, however, that wonderful advice that Neila Hocam (yes, click on that link – it is a “real” book) gives us:

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If you dont feed the TEACHers (Connors quote) Ver 02

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…is also dependent on the “type of food” we make available to our TEACHers!

 

How to MOTIVATE your LEARNers…finally the “Magic Bullet” (from heaven)!

In Adult Educators, Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning on 10/06/2013 at 10:06 am

Whatever was I thunking…yesterday?

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I mean…come on…we all LOVE:

Magic

…well, at least “magic bullets“! Don’t we?

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Herhalde, yani!

If I put a post out there with the title “The best kept secret…of how to MOTIVATE your LEARNers!” – of course, everyone is going to open it up. Even my daughter took a peek…

And…curse me to high heaven…for not delivering!

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My daughter giggled…by the way!

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Now, a lot of you probably thought I was going to start banging on about “intrinsic” or “extrinsic” motivation…or at least…come up with a “third way”

Motivation (a third way)

…I did consider it! Even “hygiene“…

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A few of you might have even hoped for some insight from one of the “newer” theories of motivationyou know like

Motivation (16 Desires from Reiss)

Come on! Least it’s better that something from the 1950s…or 60s!

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I get a lot of these ideas from Steven’s (wonderful) bookI really do.

BUT, I’m not so sure I want all my learners being motivated by romance or sex…let alone “vengence“! These themes would make for some very interesting lessons plans…and I’d love to see a CELTA assessor evaluate a class like that and keep one of those dead-pan faces they are so fond of!

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Some of you…go on admit it…probably thunked that I would jump on the “Pink Band Wagon” and produce an image like this:

Motivation (Dan Pink)

Dan has had far too much press coverage already! 

I even have a link to his blog on mine!

I have to admit…I do love Dan’s work (go on…click on the picture or have a look at the video from RSA) – lots of common sense…common sense (in truth) that has been around for many, many years…we just ain’t heard it properly!

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Actually, I did kinda “hint” at the very nature of…

The SECRET (logo 02)

…in an earlier post.

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You know, the one when I told you my “3 other secrets”:

3 things from 30 years

I know, I know…perhaps, I did not spell it out as clearly as I could.

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So, I guess the time has come…time to spill the beans…tell you the location of the holy grail…open the doors to the Vatican’s vault

The SECRET (logo 01)

…time to tell you the secret of all secrets!

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Are you ready?

And, remember I am going against the advice of one of my heroes here… – in addition to risking the wrath of the brotherhood!

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I really do feel like Acun…right now…I do!

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Drum roll…

Drums (electronic)

…we are, afterall, 21st Century EDUcators…

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The SECRET…the one nobody (well, very few people) tells us about is simply this

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The SECRET (Really, really)

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Yes, I told you that this would bake your noodle!

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BUT…

Motivation (doggie thunk)

…for a day or two!

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Or…just use the “comment” box to swear at me…or threaten the life of my darling wife and first-born child – who is still giggling!

 

Evolving the LEARNing Paradigm…

In Adult Educators, Teacher Learning, The Paradigm Debate on 21/12/2012 at 2:04 am

Tony Wagner QUOTATION (isolation)

A while back I stumbled upon a new blog (well, “new” for “me”) – Free-Range ELT from Kathy FagenKathy has a very interesting back-story herself  but it was her post “Should We Be Student-Centred?” that caught my eye…

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Besides, she is also a lover of allthingsParkerPalmer:

Palmer QUOTATION - Circle of Trust

and Dogme!

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Initially, when I looked at the “title” of Kathy’s post, my reaction (you know me) was a bit like:

Duh (TG ver 4 blog)

BUT, as I read, I started to see where she was coming from.

What do they say about that little word “assume” – and how it can make an “ASS” out of “U” and “ME”)…

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Like Kathy…I have never been a “fan” of the term “student-centred”.

I have never really “got” why there really needs to be a “debate” about whether TEACHers should be “TEACHer-centred” or “STUDENT-centred”. Surely, the “whole point” of any type of formal EDUcation is the “student”! 

OK, I prefer the terms “LEARNer” and “LEARNing” – but we all know (don’t we?) that TEACHing is just one of the “means”, not the “ends” of EDUcation.

BUTthen again…we do have that little issue of the “design flaw” that so many of our schoolscolleges and universities seem to have  hard-wired into their DNA:

Barr and Tagg QUOTATION (1995)

Go on – click on the image to read the Barr & Tagg article!

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Maybe, I am a bit “thick” – I still do not get why a school or university would be designed for the “convenience” of ADMINistrators, TEACHers…and INSTRUCTion

…rather than for the convenience of LEARNers and their LEARNing!

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Tony…this is about Kathy and her postnot you…focus!

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Kathy said something I loved near the end of her post:

The paradigm-shift that gave birth to the phrase “student-centered learning” is revolutionary.  But I wonder if it isn’t time to step even further along that path.  I’d like to see the line between student, teacher, and the others at a learning institution eliminated completely and replaced with equal respect for our experience, skills, responsibilities, needs and aims.  We are all there to support the same thing: LEARNing.  

Who is the LEARNer?  Who is the TEACHer? 

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Yesa woman after my own heart!

I added a comment to Kathy’s post – and talked about the importance of “beliefs“. I also hinted at the fact that it is the beliefs on both “sides” of the “line” – …that are really important. However, as I was writing my comment I had a very specific “story” in the back of my mind…a story that I highlighted in my last post.

My reflections on that post left me feeling a little “sad” – and when I went back to Kathy’s post, I realised that I did not want to link her post to my own (less than positive) “rant”. This is why I have split the posts!

FAILure (Covey quote)


What Kathy proposes in her post is the “way ahead” – it has to be. It is the “natural” stage of evolution for the LEARNing Paradigm.

The LEARNers in our schools, colleges and universities are the “co-creators” of their own LEARNing – and, as Barr and Tagg remind us “they” can, and must, take responsibility for their own LEARNing.

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Whitby QUOTATION (Better EDU cators)

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What I liked about Kathy’s (more optimistic) view is that it is grounded on LISTENing…and LEARNingby TEACHer LEARNers. Just as “students” need to evolve into LEARNers by taking more responsibility for their own LEARNing, “teachers” can evolve into TEACHer LEARNers by accepting other types of responsibilities.

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Block (fingerprint quote)

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As Barr and Tagg (also) remind us: 

responsibility is a win-win game wherein two agents take responsibility for the same outcome even though neither is in complete control of all the variables. When two agents take such responsibility, the resulting synergy produces powerful results.

Should we be TELLing or ASKing TEACHers…about “their” classrooms? (Pt 03)

In Adult Educators, Adult Learners, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training on 28/11/2012 at 11:33 am

My bouts of bloggery have been few and far between this month…too much jet-settingtoo many tweets on the #eddies12 (but, OMG…have I found some great new blogs…or what)!

…I have also found some great quotes (on blogs I have also nominated for an #eddies12 award, too).

One of these is:

I loved this…so true!

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So true, in fact…that I have decided to use it kick off one of the posts I promised ages ago – but never quite got round to doing. I put a great deal of time into the earlier episodes of this mini-dizi (not so you’d notice)…

…because the issue of TEACHer LEARNing (and REFLECTion) is something I take very seriously…more seriously than a heart attack or 3, less seriously than the #eddies12 (obviously)!

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The point I was trying to get across in these two episodes is really what Gwynne was also getting at – dealing with the changes we have to “cope” with in education is all about our institutions and our emotions.

She goes on and elaborates a little:

Scott McLeod agrees – so much so he named his (wonderful) blog after Gwynne’s (equally wonderful) quote!

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Our institutions very often think about observation and feedback in “dangerously irrelevant” terms – if they bother to thunk about them at all!

If they didn’t think this way, we wouldn’t see as many of the dumb-ass classroom observation protocols we find in so many of our schools, colleges and universitiesand we would see a lot more of the ASKing I was talking about in Pt 01 and Pt 02a LOT more!

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In Pt 02, I proposed a few questions that we might want to think about using when ASKing TEACHers about their classrooms…about the things that happen in these classrooms…and how TEACHers “feel” (yes, I said “feel”…all you institutional effectiveness “experts” that want to boil classroom observations down into “neat little numbers” or “ticks” on checklists)…about the “business” they are in!

Yes, I STILL feel strongly about this…

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I also promised (more fool me) to get you a transcript of how these questions might play out…the first time you use them with a real TEACHer!

What? You have one of these?

A full transcript…???

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I’m wondering…

how many of you will “get” that little “blast-from-the-past”!

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Now, this post is gonna be loooooonnnnnng…probably the longest I have ever got up on the whole blog…ever!

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…but, if you are interested in this stuff – you might want to bookmark it and come back when you have a bit more time.

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This is the transcript from the very first time that I went to see one of  “my-partners-in-crime”, Laurence, do his “thing”…TEACH, yani!

He currently works with groups of TEACHers-to-be here (in Ankara) at Başkent University – and this class was one of their “speaking courses” (designed to help develop their language skills as future ELL facilitators of LEARNing – OK…ELT TEACHers)!

Laurence is not an ELT Instructor (in the traditional sense) – but he is passionate about communication and the LEARNing of his LEARNers. He was keen to see (that’s an understatement…we actually put money on it) whether the types of questions I use in “feedback sessions” with other TEACHers could, in fact, help him become a better LEARNing TEACHer…

I’ll leave that for you (and him) to decide!

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Are you sitting comfortably? Then…I’ll begin…

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TG:  When was the last time you were observed by someone, Laurence?

LR:  People regularly come in to my classes.  I believe that being observed is an important aspect of any educator’s job, whether it be parents, guests, other teachers, learners, or whatever.  I believe that adaptation to any learning situation is a subconscious as well as a conscious process; if an educator observes the observer’s or the guest’s reaction to any given situation, they often adapt their techniques – especially if that reaction is overwhelmingly positive or negative.  I believe that educators are teaching life-skills in their classes, and one of those life-skills is to be able to react positively to public situations.  I was pleased with our learners’ reactions to your presence in the class; as you know, they might have just clammed up with a stranger in their midst. 

TG:  Cool – not many educators do this.  Look, the way I conduct this type of feedback session is this: I have a series of questions to structure our conversation.  They’re not intended to be judgmental, but designed for you to think through the process of adaptation in any learning situation.  Let’s look at the first of these:  what teaching outcomes did you have for the session?

LR:  I can’t really answer that, to be honest! I’m really interested in using materials to develop learner abilities; in other words, to encourage learners to think for themselves, as well as develop 21st century learning abilities such as resilience and openness.  Hence my decision to put them into groups of three or four, and ask them to do task-based activities, with the minimum of pre-teaching and/or explicatory lecturing from me. 

TG:  Well, there are certain models people use  for teaching and learning:  one of them is the PPP model, or the TTT model (Jang 2008).  Another model is the OHP or TBL model  You seem to use a TBL or a PBL model.  You give a task, allow time for negotiation, and then asked the learners to perform and reflect on what they had done.  Looking at the class in terms of these models might help determine its teaching outcomes:  what stages the learners undergo to complete the adaptive process – adaptation, in this sense, understood as learning something at the end of the lesson that they did not know or could not do at the beginning.  What do you think that learners learned from your session?

LR:  I think that today was an interesting situation, as learners acquired sufficient resilience to cope with strange situations: first, there were two sections who had been put together in one class for the first time in the entire semester; and second, that they had a guest – in other words, yourself – in their midst.  In terms of learning outcomes, they learned to adapt themselves – their body language, responses, communication – to this unaccustomed situation.  Call it “thinking on your feet,” if you like, as well as an ability for learners to shed themselves of that self-consciousness that inhibits communication, and adapt to a new situation. 

TG:  It didn’t seem to faze them that the two groups came together.  How did you know that this learning was taking place? 

LR:  They made great efforts to support one another.  When one group was performing, all the rest of the learners were concentrating on the performance, rather than doing their own preparation.  Even if that performance was not the best in the world, the learners took the trouble to watch it.  More significantly the learners enjoyed what they were doing, and signaled their enjoyment through laughter.

TGSo, wasn’t that your teaching outcome? 

LR:  But … I believe that sometimes a learning outcome cannot be predicted.  If we empower learners to think for themselves, then they might be able to achieve things that educators do not expect.  I think that was certainly the case with the Shakespearean undergraduates two years ago.  Maybe we oughtn’t to make any distinction between teaching and learning outcomes; they’re all part of a continuum.  

TG:  So let’s go back to the question: how do you know that learners learned something from the class? You’ve already talked about their reactions: was there anything else that convinced you that learning had taken place? 

LR:  I asked the learners to do a role-play, so as to emphasize the importance of nonverbal as well as verbal communication in any person-to-person encounter.  The fact that they undertook the task with such gusto suggests that they understood what the outcome of the lesson might have been.  But there was also the unexpected bit: some learners got involved in the activities far more than I would have expected them to.  I try to know my learners, but sometimes they can offer pleasant surprises. 

TGCan you explain that a little more?  How did the learners’ performance meet your expectations, and what were the unpredictable elements? 

LR:  I believe that the performance helped to develop learner fluency and confidence with the language.  By empowering them to draw upon paralinguistic as well as linguistic elements, they understand how communication takes place on several levels.  Even the quiet ones in the group seemed to get involved.  The unexpected element was that those learners whom I expected to be peripheral  in a group-learning situation actually assumed a more active role; in other words, they adapted themselves. 

TGHow do you think the learning evolved during the session?  I mean – learning by “listening,” “doing” or “reflecting”?  If you had to allocate a percentage – or create a pie chart – on those three elements of learning during the class, how you would you respond? 

LR:  Learning by doing would be the most important aspect.  However that can only be sustained through a certain degree of learning by listening: not listening in terms of listening to a lecture from the educator, but listening to each other.  My role in that listening situation is to move about the class, listen to what learners are discussing, and offering comments whenever they might be useful.  Call it collaborative listening.  Let’s say 45% learning by doing, 40% listening, and only 5-10% reflecting.  This is interesting, as I believe that learners only reflect on what they have done after the lesson has concluded, or they have acquired that understanding before the lesson takes place.  In other words, reflection is what is done before and after individual lessons; this is what lies at the heart of adaptive learning. 

TG:  I noticed that … your learners responded well to small stimuli or your classroom management techniques  – clapping hands, for example.  I saw that they were very engaged in the task:  the noise level was quite high.  A lot of that negotiation was done in Turkish to begin with, but as the task neared completion, their language changed to English, especially when they prepared for the performance.  Was that something you expected? 

LR:  Yes.  Referring back to the last chapter, I believe that any language should be used, so long as learners are comfortable with it.  You have to make them want to do the task; if you place too many constraints on them, they won’t do it. 

TG:  There’s one other question here.  As the learners were working, what did you do to improve their levels of fluency or accuracy?  Which of these was your primary focus? 

LRDoes it matter?  Second language speakers need to adapt themselves to the language, and they need the confidence to do so.  Do we want them to be accurate, or just to have the willingness to communicate?  It’s like riding a bicycle, or learning to swim: the way you improve is by doing it, and wanting to do it.  I think we’ve also got to reflect on what fluency means:  do we mean linguistic or communicative fluency?  What is not said often assumes more significance than what is actively said.  Hence my determination not to intervene too much: to empower learners to acquire their own adaptive skills.

TG:  Maybe that was one of your teaching outcomes; to give the learners an opportunity to empower themselves?

LR:  This is true.  In the learners’ educational contexts, they spend a lot of their time in teacher-centered situations, interspersed with presentations.  This involves reading out material copied from books, accompanied with PowerPoint slideshows.  In contrast what I want to do is to create a more fluid situation, so that learners can initiate adaptive processes for themselves. 

TG:  When the learners got to their performance, some of them were reading from notes, others were adlibbing.  Is this what you expected? 

LR:  Yes.  Learners can choose how they want to perform; this has to do with confidence in language communication.  Some are bolder than others.  The only way they can develop is to feel free to adopt whatever strategies they wish. 

TG:  So … and this is the big question.  If you could do the session again, what three things would you keep, and what three things would you drop or change?

LR:  Instead of doing a performance, I might do a creative writing activity.  I might also devise a prereading activity based on a text given before the lesson.  This might be more suitable for younger learners … I don’t know.  I’d also like to have some time allotted for reflection on the learning outcomes of the lesson; in other words, ask the same question of learners that you’ve asked of me. 

TG:  Interesting.  When you answered that question, you critiqued yourself first – and didn’t really talk about the things you wanted to keep.  Why was that, do you think? 

LR:  This is the point of adaptive thinking.  Ideas are seldom fixed, and you can use the past to reflect on present and future.  I’d keep the format of the lesson, as it was group-focused, negotiation-based and learner-centered, and had that unpredictable element.  This represents an alternative to their mainstream learning in the institution. 

TG:  This is co-creation, isn’t it? Let’s stop there and continue our chat later.

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I did warn you all…

…cos we ain’t finished, yet – boys and girls!

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I asked Laurence to jot down his reflections (between that chat and a follow-up chat we arranged for laters).

This is what he did:

The interesting aspect of this discussion was the ways in which Tony’s feedback questions prompted me to reflect on my teaching practice and the ways in which I reacted from moment to moment during the session.  Such reactions emphasize the capacity of any individual to adapt to any given situation.  This process was identical to that experienced by the learners, as they worked in groups to implement the activity given to them at the beginning.  This is what lies at the heart of collaborative learning… 

However, it is also important to stress that feedback and reflection are not finite, they are ongoing processes (what Tony describes as “reflective savvy”), it should be part of every educational interaction, so as to help educators and learners use adaptation to reshape their approaches to learning, shaped by the cultures they inhabit. 

The next section of our discussion bears this out; it was conducted five days after the first “feedback” session.

TGDid you feel that you needed space to think through some of the things we talked about?

LR:  There are two things there: when you reflect immediately after a class, the reactions are spontaneous, often visceral, perhaps more emotional rather than reflective.  However the five day break is a good way of thinking about how one might use the experience of that lesson as a means to adapt one’s existing pedagogical approaches.  You ask questions such as: did the lesson actually implement what I believe is most significant about the adaptive approach to pedagogy?  Did it help to sustain the kind of continuity something intrinsic to 21st century learning) built up over the previous twelve or thirteen weeks of the semester?

TG:  OK, let’s ask you that question: how does that type of reflection impact on your personal philosophy of teaching and learning? 

LR:  I think the answer to that goes back to my belief that adaptation studies, understood in this context as a process of mental as well as textual transformation, is a continuous process of reflecting on the past to determine one’s future belief.  When I started teaching nearly thirty years ago, I was very much wedded to the “sage on the stage” belief, because I copied what my teachers did in the university context.  I think it’s very difficult to undergo a complete overhaul of one’s teaching technique, as I believe I have done, and I think that the only way to achieve that transformation is through continual reflection.  If you want to feel confident in your transformative process, you’ve got to have the guts to put your knowledge and skills on the line and scrutinize them. 

TG:  And that’s precisely the kind of adaptive approach that Darwin advocated, all those years ago, when he discussed how all species become accustomed to new environments. 

LR:  Exactly.  And this reflection session is a good way of stimulating this process.  I have to look at classes in terms of what learners get out of it, rather than judging myself purely in terms of educator performance. 

TG:  When we talked in the feedback session a few days ago, I asked a series of structured questions.  Were there any that you found disturbing, and which do you think allowed you to think about adaptive learning in a deeper way? 

LR:  I don’t think any questions actually disturbed me.  

TGNot even the one about teaching outcomes? 

LR:  No.  Because I think the questions help me to structure my reflections, and hence learn how to adapt themselves.  The outcomes question needs to be addressed, even if you don’t necessarily like it. 

TGBut you did resist the question when we talked about it? 

LR:  This is part of that two-fold process I described earlier.  I think learning in an adaptation studies classroom encompasses immediate feedback plus a more considered reflection a few days later.  The considered reflection helps makes sense of those unpredictable elements that take place in any learning situation – for example, when a lesson plan doesn’t work out, or when learners react in ways that the educator doesn’t anticipate.  If you asked me now about what the teaching outcomes were of the lesson I did five days ago, I’d answer thus:  to develop learner capacities to transform texts in their own ways, and thereby cultivate resilience and problem-solving abilities.I think the time spent on reflection helps find a way of reconciling educator and learner interests;  to help educators understand learner needs, and to adapt their techniques as a result.  This is where I think adaptation studies is so important.  It represents an attempt to create new models of learning.  I think what we’re doing is trying to take the discipline out of its film-theater-literature context and apply it in a broader sense to issues of teaching and learning.

TG:  We might call it a more principled context.  In other words, not just pursuing something new for the sake of it – because it’s technologically hip or cool, but trying to devise a set of principles for adaptive learning.  Can we go back a bit and think a little about your answer to my first question a few days ago.  When I asked how long it was since you’ve been observed, you replied in a very nontraditional way.  It surprised me when you said that my classroom’s open: usually when people respond they say that they’ve never been observed – or not been observed  – “professionally” for a very long time.  That suggested you had a fair bit of learning consciousness.  Does that make sense?  Where did this come from, do you think?

LR:  I think this has a lot to do with my belief in feedback and reflection as the basis of adaptation studies, something which has become more pronounced since I did the Shakespeare course two years ago.  I think this can best be done by investigating one’s autobiography.  When I did my teacher training in the mid-1980s, I had a mentor teacher whom I never got on with.  This was a purely personal thing.  I remember one day she asked me a peremptory question after I’d done a sample lesson:  “what do you think the learners learned from that lesson?”  It was designed purely as a content-based feedback question – another example might be: what poems did learners study in the anthology today? 

TG:  In other words, were you ticking all the boxes correctly – or was she? 

LR:  True.  Ever since that time I’ve always believed that an observer is there not to judge, but to learn themselves, or to engage in dialogue. 

TGSo an observer can participate in adaptive learning as well?

LR:  Yes:  the observer might want to develop their own skills.  They might not only comment on your own technique, but participate in a dialogue. 

TG:  I also believe in getting feedback on my questioning technique.  Did you think I was leading or judging you through my feedback? 

LR:  Not at all …an educator should prompt reflection through feedback based on questioning.  This is what I found fascinating about our sessions: encouraging that two-fold response we talked about earlier.  The art of adaptive learning is to realize that the questioner is not out to judge, but to prompt self-adaptation.  

TG:  I purposely didn’t ask you one question in the previous reflection session , focusing on your own adaptive thinking: what will you do in the class, and how can you evaluate the success of the initiatives you want to introduce?  Do you think I was right to do so? 

LR:  Maybe it would have caused a defensive response: everyone will reply that their lessons are going to contribute to an overall course of action, because I want to be a better educator.  But if you leave it for a few days, I think you’re going to prompt the educator to review what they have done, and determine for themselves whether they need to change or not.  Maybe the passage of time is important there. 

TG:  Now you’ve talked about learning outcomes, I think maybe we can look at your lesson in this way.  Maybe you created the opportunities for learners to develop themselves (though planning the outcomes of a lesson); but maybe you can’t predict how they will respond to these opportunities.  Let’s go back to you for the moment.  Sometimes I do feedback sessions three, or even four times, so as to help educators in their reflective processes.  Do you feel that these two sessions have made a difference for you? 

LR:  Yes, because I think that these experiments stimulate individual educator reflection – a process that never ends.  Sometimes you need someone to bounce ideas off in order to develop your own ideas and techniques.  We’re not just talking about an isolated process here; this is the basis of collaborative learning – non-judgmental, non-threatening – where people feel they can be honest in what they are saying. 

TG:  Once educators recognize the rationale of this type of process, they can then use the same experience with their learners, asking the same kind of questions we looked at together.

…or NOT?

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This “LEARNing conversation” is adapted from chapter 5 (entitled “Reflecting and Adapting”) of – a wee book Laurence and I have been putting together…every Sunday for the past year.

The book – ADAPTATION STUDIES AND LEARNING: NEW FRONTIERS (Scarecrow, 2012) – will be published by a tiny, boutique publisher in the US…and you will probably never find it…in any self-respecting book store!

…and don’t be asking me for a signed, free copy…our marketing budget is so small, we have had to borrow money from our mothers-in-law just to purchase our own copies!

BUTboth Laurence and I would love to hear what you thunk

“Comment zamanı, anyone”?

Should we be TELLing or ASKing TEACHers…about “their” classrooms? (Pt 02)

In Adult Educators, Adult Learners, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training on 10/11/2012 at 8:34 am

That image is probably the #1 graphic (in download terms) on the blog – probably because so many people see so many different things in it.

However, what nearly everyone agrees on is that the quote is…oh-so-true!

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That having been said, do you remember what I said in Pt 01 of this little diziabout “truth”?

…but I would warn against thunking that “our” truth is the “only” truth…especially when we are talking about classroom observation and helping another educator LEARN, GROW…and GET OFF the planet quicker!

What I was getting at was basically this – when we are helping another TEACHer to reflect on a lesson, the best way to do it is by ASKingby LISTENingby BEing there for the TEACHer (as well as BEing with the TEACHer).

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Jumping in with both feet (and a “club”) ain’t gonna get you very far – and the over-zealous (and over-used) strategy of picking up on every, single, bloody, tiny, “screw-up” is probably the reason so many TEACHers (still) “dread” – yes, I said “dread”, classroom observation…and (even more so) the “feedback session”!

Yes! I have “feelings” on this…strong feelings!

BUT…this is not the time for a RANT (I heard you, Laurence)!

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I promised to share something with you…some of the questions I ASK when I run “reflection sessions” with TEACHers.

I won’t pretend that these little questions are the “Holy Grail” of feedback sessions (there are no magic bullets in education – you know this). All I can say is that they “work” for mein 9 out of 10 instances…especially, in sessions when TEACHers “volunteer” or ASK me to help them out.

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That’s the first one I start with (after finding a comfortable place to chat…and buying us both a coffee or çay).

Why is this question so important?

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Well, I totally agree with what my men, Andy and Mike, say…

…but, in a feedback session – it is “feelings” that dictate how effectively a TEACHer will “be” him or herself, “thunk”…and “open up” to you. Even if you both feel that you already have a pretty “cool” relationship…

It ain’t rocket science – boys and girls!

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The next question I usually ASK is this one:

…now, this one looks quite “easy”, doesn’t it?

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However, I’ve found that even the most experienced TEACHers can benefit from exploring this question a wee bit…especially, when one of our purposes (for having a feedback session) is to get to my third question:

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It is this questionor rather the second part of this question…that can “bake a noodle” or three!

Indeed, it is this question that can lead us back to the second question…and allow us both to look at how “aligned” the lesson actually was (with what was “planned”).

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Afterall, we all know…

…don’t we?

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Building on that question, I often move onto my next one:

…and it is one of the “toughest” in the whole session – especially we we use it to analyse different phases of a lesson or the various activities used.

Yes, it can take a long time!

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What this lovely little question also does is show the “power” of recording classroom observation sessions – video recording and serious “viewing” by the TEACHer herself.

If I am not actually recording the session (and I try to do this as much as I can), I sometimes keep a “log” of how many times a TEACHer (or the LEARNers) “do” certain things. For example, in one recent session I began counting the number of times that LEARNers actually:

1. produced an “original” utterance

2. produced an utterance “copied” from what the teacher had said

3. produced an utterance “copied” from the textbook

…when I shared my “count” with the TEACHer in question, we got into all sorts of great discussions (after the initial “shock” produced by the “data”) – and agreed that video was the way to go (with or without me being there)!

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The next question is really all of the “magic 3” I mentioned in the earlier post:

– the “trick” here is to try and get TEACHers to look at the “strengths” of a session firstyou’d be surprised just how many want to ignore these and focus on “fixing” the not-so-great-stuff!

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Now, this next one is a bit tricky – as the previous question needs to have prepared the groundwork by having thrown up a range of options. Indeed, it is that phase that allows the OBSERVer and the TEACHer to “trade” ideastrade practices…and “create” improvement opportunities:

…this question then allows you to set up an action plan…a timeline.

And, we all know why that is! Yes?

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But, it is the second part of the question that helps TEACHers (especially those that have not done a great deal of “formal” reflection or been observed very much)…start to take a newer perspectivea LEARNing perspective that uses the type of “counts” I mentioned before! This perspective is not grounded on what the TEACHer “does” all on her own – but rather in the LEARNing that is “produced” by what both the TEACHer and the LEARNers “do” together…

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In any reflection session, it’s also important that the TEACHer gets the opportunity to give some feedback to the OBSERVer – so, I often ask this one:

…and encourage the TEACHer to TELL me what “worked” for him…what I should keep on doing or what I can do less of – to improve the experience.

I have got a lot better over time at doing this…by LISTENing to feedback from TEACHers on how I “perform” as an OBSERVera lot better!

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As I said (right at the start of this post) – there is no magic recipe.

I do not always use every question. I do not always keep the same order outlined here…and, it is the questions that the TEACHer and I co-create in a specific conversation that are the most fruitful in many cases!

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SO…what I’ll do in the next post (I might need to split it up) is show you an actual “transcript”. The LEARNing coversation I had with Laurencethe very first time I saw him “in action”

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That should be FUN!

Should we be TELLing or ASKing TEACHers…about “their” classrooms? (Pt 01)

In Adult Educators, Adult Learners, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training on 09/11/2012 at 9:37 am

This post is dedicated to the memory of “Sally”a wonderful LEARNer, TEACHer and QUESTIONer – who has been taken from us far too early.

Bugün, çok karanlık bir günde,  harika bir insan ve arkadaşımızı aydınlığa uğurlayacağız…seni seviyouruz, canım!

 

With the exception of my “saucy Conference Calendar“, nearly all my posts (and guest-posts) of late have been about “questions”.

Have you noticed that?

Now, I’m not sure about you…but I have always hated being “told” what to doeven when I was knee-high to a grasshopper! Parents, teachers…even my “mates” would drive me up the wall…when they “jumped” in and said things like:

  • No, that’s silly…what you need to do is…
  • You’re doing it all wrong, Tony! This is how you do it…
  • You didn’t use the blackboard much in that lesson. Why not?
  • Your lesson lacked “flavour” again…why didn’t you do what we discussed last time?

OK – those last two are from CELTA trainers…and even though a question or two are “thrown” in – they weren’t really questions at all. More like a club to the head!

We’ve talked about these kinds of things before – many times on the blog (as have others in my PLN)!

 

Don’t get me wrong!

I’m not suggesting that we should never tell others the “truth”…but I would warn against thunking that “our” truth is the “only” truth…especially when we are talking about classroom observation and helping another educator LEARN, GROW…and GET OFF the planet quicker!

 

TELLing people does NOT workas well as we thunk!

Think about it – as a TEACHer – how many times have you told your LEARNers stufftold them againrevised itre-taught itchecked their understandingassigned “homework”…and some of them STILL don’t get it?

Why would it be any different if you did the same with a TEACHer…when giving them feedback on one of their lessons? Especially, and I mean especially, when you get their backs up…by suggesting:

  • I know best!
  • You did it wrong!
  • Now, fix it!

 

There is a better way…

It’s not rocket science! If we can shelve our experience, our positionour egoand LISTEN first!

LISTENing is best initiated by ASKing…and, in allthingsclassroomobservation, there are essentially THREE questions we should be encouraging TEACHers to thunk about

Finding out where the TEACHer is coming fromwhat the TEACHer “feels”…is the best (initial) “deposit” you can drop into the “joint emotional bank account” you have opened with the TEACHer. You are going to need some “credit” in that account before you can make a “withdrawal”…

and, you can take that advice to the bank!

 

The thing is…

Isn’t that always the case?

Tomorrow, I’ll share with you some of the questions that I ASK…

Emotional Literacy for Educators – the 12-step programme!

In Adult Educators, Classroom Teaching, Educational Leadership on 05/04/2012 at 10:45 am

In a recent post I talked about the idea of Emotional Literacy – one of the core human literacies that drive great TEACHing and also great educational leadership.

Some people call it Emotional Intelligence (EQ or EI), educational leaders often use the term “Conscious Leadership” – I prefer to think of it as the “people STUFF” in LEARNing and TEACHing.

Call it what you will…it is here to stay! And, as a concept, it is attracting more and more interest in education as we all get to grips with balancing the “digital literacies” (and fluencies) of the 21st Century with the “human literacies” that are the very foundation of good LEARNing and TEACHing.

In an earlier post, I told you that Tom Peters believes that the world today needs “leaders” who:

OK , I might re-name that 6th one – “LEARN, LEARN, LEARN”!

You know me so well…

 

For me, all TEACHers are LEADersand Uncle Tom puts his finger on all the major elements that TEACHer LEADers (and their school LEADers) really need to emphasise as they work with 21st Century students. If we do not walk-the-talk, how can we expect our students to even LEARN the talklet alone “walk” it!

The internet is today awash with advice for 21st Century Educational Leaders – these leaders are not only 21st Century Learning Specialists, they are also:

These ideas are also reflected in the work of educators like Marcy Shankman and Scott Allen – who believe that all leaders (and there are many all over our schools and colleges) need to think more about their own “consciousness”:

 

…if we are to do the same with our LEARNers!

 

This notion of Conscious Leadership has also been around for some time.

Deepak Chopra tells us we are beginning to see, thanks to information technology (those damn computers, again!), a paradigm shift from a material worldview to a consciousness-based worldview. This makes a great deal of sense – after all:

  • What is consciousness, if not information and energy that has become alive with self-referral? In other words, consciousness is information that responds to feedback, which is also information.

This self-referred information, if applied to “what matters”, supports the process of “consciousness” becoming “intelligence” – and even more LEARNing.

 

This, in essence, is what we teachers call “reflective savvy”:

– the very process of what we all do to improve what we do with what we know and understand about LEARNing and TEACHing and adapt or transform ourselves as educators…yes, I know – a mouthful!

 

Being a great TEACHer in the 21st Century, to go back to Marcy Shankman and Scott Allen, is not just about the “tech” – it is not even just about LEARNing and TEACHing practice in the classroom (“virtual” or not). Though, I have to admit, the whole idea of LEARNacy is probably on a par with these:

It’s essentially about exercising our Emotional Literacy “muscle” – knowing and understanding more about our SELF, our OTHERS and our CONTEXT…and being “savvy” on the INTRAPERSONAL, INTERPERSONAL and ENVIRONMENTAL levels, too.

And…how we critically apply this knowledge to all our EDU understandings:

 

So, how should we exercise this muscle – to make it more emotionally intelligent and make ourselves more emotionally literate?

 

A while back, I tried to develop a “12-Step Plan” to help teachers set up their own D-I-Y professional development process (if their schools were not helping them out as much as they should).

I thought I’d try the same for Emotional Literacy:

STEP 1 – Read, learn and discuss more about emotional intelligence and conscious leadership (book learnin’ be good – sharing be better)!

STEP 2 – Know thyself (and know “others” and “context” more)! This needs a couple more steps…

STEP 3 – Try to become more aware of your own “emotional style”. Ask yourself – What do I do in more emotional situations? How do I try to avoid discomfort? What do I know about the emotions of those I work with (and how do I know this)? What role do emotions play in my institution (and how do I know this)?

STEP 4 – Get to know yourself better by trying out a few of the many EQ assessment tools you can find nowadays – to understand your strengths and “soft spots” a bit more. Be careful – there is a lot of “rubbish” on the web!

STEP 5 – Focus on your own “listening skills” as a priority – listen in to others (and yourself) and see what lessons you can learn from feelings and emotions. And, remember “listening is often the best way to get your point across”!

STEP 6 – Be the change you want to see in your leadership style (OK – slight modification on what Gandhi told us) and work to increase positive feedback to yourself (and those around you) and increase your appreciation of others (try counting how many times you say “thank you” – each day)!

STEP 7 – Just do it! 

STEP 8 – Start small, begin slowly and focus on doing a few things “differently” and “well” (Rome was not built in a day…)!

STEP 9 – Don’t use technology – remember what we said; the people “stuff” (and LEARNing) is not about the hardware, the software, or the webware…it’s the headware, heartware and careware!

STEP 10 – If in doubt (and you have some “spare cash”), try attending a programme on EQ (but watch out for “EQ sharks” – those buggers that read-a-book and tell-the-world). Hey, if you can do it (and we do not do this enough in education, at all) – get yourself a “coach” (but remember – you get what you pay for)!

STEP 11 – Remember “best practice” is seldom ever enough (and the attitude of “fake-it-till-you-make-it” is quickly sussed out by others) – it is, more often than not, about somebody else’s solution to somebody else’s problem. Surely, it’s better to heed what Covey tells us about the “end” and “bearing it in mind” – and look for “Next Practice” in ourselves! 

STEP 12 – Always my favourite – remember: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference…

Hey, I’m getting better at this “12-step thing”!

 

But, then again, I’m sure you have some other ideas!