Monday, July 03, 2006

Winter school

Some time ago I wrote a post called "How do you know your students are learning?" and now I think I know the answer (grin). Over the last week I was attending the Monash Winter School to (while colleagues in the northern hemisphere are at their summer schools) to try to come to grips with writing my thesis. One of the presentations was by Amanda Berry who has just finished her award winning Ph D thesis, researching her practice as a teacher educator. Afterwards I spoke to her (to get some tips, you understand) and she recommended an author I had not come across: Stephen Brookfield. His book, Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher, is very readable and informative. What Brookfield describes is a method he uses to find out from his students (admittedly adults, while mine are adolescents) how they are experiencing their learning and your teaching. It does sound interesting. He does this questionnaire with classes once a week with five questions asking them about specific incidents that were engaging or distancing, affriming and helpful or puzzling or confusing and what was most surprising. The comments are anonymous and students have a carbon copy of their responses. They can keep them and have a record of their respponses on an ongoing basis. I must admit there is a lot in this book that gives food for thought.
One comment on the presentations in general at the Winter School: why does everybody have to have a standard Powerpoint presentation? Most of them did not enhance the presentations, and it almost seemed as if they were compulsory. Let's have truly engaing presentations or just not use them!
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