Well, I am not sure this is the right time and it actually somehow feels wrong but I am going to give it another go as my previous reflection on week 2 was a bit messy as I found it difficult to keep my mind focused when I was putting it together. Would it have been best not to reflect at all then and wait? I am not sure as I did feel that I wanted to capture my thoughts and emotions at the time, so it didn’t feel forced… and while I am starting fresh here, I had a quick look at my previous reflection linked to week 2 and can now more clearly see how different thoughts, disconnected, melted into one. As I feel that I have left the reflection about week 2 session incomplete, I would like to try and focus one more time here. Looking at the pictures we took last week helped me remember which does proove that images can trigger memories and bring experiences back to life.
Ok, let’s give it another go. Week 2 was about Good teaching in HE, developing reflective skills and peer observations. I have to say that I was really proud of all my students and their current knowledge and understanding of how good teaching looks like. I am pleased that the activity we did around identifying good teaching features worked really well and enabled all students to contribute their ideas and collectively create the bigger picture. The idea at the beginning was to group students in their action learning sets… I forgot that completely and was reminded by my slides… oops. it was however too late and I left the groups as they had been formed organically. I think it worked but I do need to remember next week to give students the opportunity to work with their learning set members too.
1. How did I feel?
Pleased and proud with what we have achieved already as a group thanks to the openness of my students.Also very pleased with the progress we are making and how students engage in the collaborative tasks. The exchanges are rich and learning is happening in the classroom as well. IT was lovely to see how students embraced the activity around Good teaching practice in HE and putting Top Tips for Peer Observarions together.
Also concerned that some are behind with their portfolios. I think I mentioned that last week as well. Well, after offering another 2 sets of portfolio workshops, I think there are still about 50% of students with no portfolios… this is what worries me… still, our colleagues from TMC are not on Blackboard. I understand that they have been registered and I have tried to add them to Blackboard but the system does not find their names yet. This is extremely frustrating as I am trying to offer an inclusive learning experience for all and this is impossible at the moment. Calls to follow @pgcap on Twitter and the PGCAP news blog have not brought colleagues closer, which is also a shame.
2. What did I learn?
I learnt that learning in collaboration can be very powerful. Also, when students get to know each other, they do open up. Stydents are all interested in personal stories and sharing these when they feel safe. Opening up happened as the session progressed and this was especially evident during the “Open your heart” activity.
While initially I asked everybody to capture their reflections and not share them with anybody else, when I finished the questions, I asked everybody to stick their heart at the back of the door for everybody to see. Nobody did! Nobody was ready for this. The door was the world. However, what students said and did is that they would feel ok to share with others around their table. This was wonderful and the first step towards opening up in a safe environment. Not everybody contributed their stories to start with but progressively, as some made a start, others felt also keen to share their stories. It was wonderful to experience the interest students had in listening to each other stories and providing help, support and commenting. Peer support in action. Why can we not do this when we reflect on our teaching practice? Why is it so hard to find somebody who would love to hear our stories we experience in the classroom and share ideas? It can’t be that hard!
3. What would I do differently?
The ballgame around the module guide (I have to admit that I forgot all about it until I saw the pictures again!) didn’t really work this time, as I understood that not many had read the module guide… maybe my instructions were not clear what this game was all about… also possible. I feel that it is important that students read the module guide carefully before the start of a module or at the start of a module and come to class with questions they have. I have now to assume that students…
- understood everything and have no questions
- didn’t want to ask any questions
- didn’t read the module guide
- felt embarassed to ask questions or
- didn’t understand what they had to do
Too many slides. I felt that they got in a way a lot during this session and were not really needed, at least some of them. Pleased that I ignored them when we discussed peer observations and I think it actually worked much better without them.
So, I think actually next time I offer this session, I would try less is more or no slides at all. Maybe just some bright pictures with a message that would help me remember the plan? Also possible.
I will be observed by Frances Bell on Tuesday. I have to say that I am nervous and as the day comes closer, I feel even more nervous and at the moment I can’t even think what my plan is and what I will be doing with my class. I am ready but as everybody else who is observed, I want to do a good job. But I don’t just want to do a good job because I am observed. Teachers should do a good job all the time and not just because they are observed. So, I will just be me, do the things I do and hopefully it will work. There will be some improvisation in there too, there usually ise… Well, some of it might not work so well but we will see and find out after the observation. Usually teachers also know what works and what doesn’t.
I have given Frances access to my pre-observation info and hope that I will feel relaxed when she is there… wish me good luck. Week 3 looking at planning sessions, modules and programmes.