Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Learning and teaching

Today I met with my supervisor for the Masters and we discussed the writing and reading that has led to reflections that I’ve been doing on my teaching in the light of the theory. I will be looking at my practice in the classroom in an alternative framework. Recently I reread Neil Mercer’s The Guided Construction of Knowledge which explores the role of talk among students in their learning. As a result, one of the goals of my teaching in the year nine classroom is that I want to arrange the learning environment so that students will be encouraged to:
  • Share ideas effectively
  • explain clearly
  • discuss
  • make connections
  • justify opinions
  • negotiate
  • decide on relevance and truth
  • summarise
  • examine contributions critically
  • be publicly accountable
I realise that group discussion skills need to be taught explicitly so that the discussions do not reproduce a lot of "unexamined platitudes". As well as this, the students need to have a shared understanding of the point and purpose of the activity of Literature Circles. They need to be invited to disagree, ask questions, share knowledge, and consolidate what they have learnt in words.
Like Alistair Pennycook in Critical Pedagogies (2004) I want to introduce a critical element into my analysis of my teaching. As he says, "my aim is to be a bit disruptive." I don't think that my learning would be advanced if it were not for this critical element. In his writing he is discussing his observation of a student teacher at work, and in my writing I am reflecting on myself as a learning teacher at work.

In my research I want to link the questions I have about my teaching to "a broader social agenda" so as not to "reproduce my own or a current social agenda". I am trying to reappraise the frames of knowledge or "problematising" my own practice. I want to cast doubt on the categories we employ to understand the social world, of which teachers are a part. I want to keep questions of "language, discourse, power and identity to the fore." (p. 330).

In my research journal what I am looking for are "those critical moments when we seize the chance to do something differently, when we realise that some new understanding is coming about." For all the planning that I've been doing, these moments cannot be explicitly planned for, but I've got to be ready, to look out for them: a comment that shifts the discourse, or moments of potential transformation when someone 'gets it' as Pennycook says.

Points for investigation in the next few weeks:
  • How are my students engaging in the opportunities for language and learning?
  • How am I attempting to create these opportunities?
  • What can I learn about learning (and my impact on the students) from my students?
Phew! While I’ve been doing all that there has been a deeply reflective discussion happening in the edublogosphere on why people blog. I picked it up on Will Richardson’s blog and it is well summarised here at Cool Cat Teacher Blog. Not everyone wants to blog; it doesn’t suit everyone, but I love it. It is but one of many ways to learn and to think.

1 comment:

  1. I am glad you are blogging. Your posts are meaningful and reflective. Thank you for your compliment of my blog.

    I look forward to seeing what you find in your analysis of the use of conversation in teaching.