We had a special Valentines session this Thursday. Full house too, which is always nice. A heart balloon (but not for long, loads of red paper hearts filled the room but also real ones that were full of life, love and energy. Silos broke, we opened up.
We learnt what reflection is through actually immersing ourselves through a facilitated activity into our own past, trying to make sense of it and learning something through it. We all got what reflection is really quickly. Fancy Powerpoint slides would just be a distraction, would have made reflection look like something detouched from reality, something sterile and distant. Building theory through experiencing it in our own context is much more powerful than the other way around, I think… Is this aways possible?
The session worked really well, I think and it was a feel good session, not just for me but I could see that my students felt that it was useful for them. Somebody said at the end: “The 3 hour session went so fast, like an hour which means the session was interesting.” Did some of us at least experience what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls the state of flow?
Not all sessions are like that and we all have lows as well. Some of them are so low that we feel that we don’t have the strength to continue, to pick ourselves up again. What do we do then? Can we reach out? Should we reflect? What about our emotions? What if we don’t hav anywhere to do? What if our thinking is just not leading us anywhere? How can we move on then?
I have to say, that I am really impressed with my current group and the openness and honesty so far. I think this is the most open cohort ever. The majority of portfolios is open, we have portfolios already available under creative commons licences, some badges too and more importantly we have conversations happening in these portfolios and our Google + community. All this activity just makes me wonder why this hasn’t happen before to that extend? What did I do differently this time? I know that every group is different and what works with one group might not work at all with another but there seems to be a massive change suddenly.
The transition from learning to teaching to reflective learning and teaching happened organically and I think this was the first time also we achieved this. Perhaps I am getting better at making links between different concepts so that what we discuss doesn’t seem too disconnected and the transmissions are now smoother? I think this is really important. If we appear to be jumping from one topic to the other without enabling the students to see and make the connections, this can be confusing. Not saying that confusion is not useful. Confusion is necessary for learning and can lead to strengthening connections and making new ones but also letting go of others.
Making the connection between learning and teaching was powerful and interesting thoughts and observations came out when we discussed what good teaching is. Collaborative student-centred learning featured strongly but was intermixed with more traditional and conventional views about content, covering, delivering, and lecturing and at the heart of the posters were still the teachers… A disconnect between beliefs and reality? How much time do we spend thinking about our students and what they will be doing in the classroom? How much time do we spend preparing slides? I think we know the answer. Is this healthy and useful for us and our students? Remember, content is everywhere! It is not about covering! Uncovering is what we need to encourage and original thinking! Is there an opportunity here to un-think! Re-think! New-think!
How would we spend our time preparing when we start from the learner and what we want them to learn? Hopefully next week will be useful for everybody when we will be looking at planning sessions.
What I need to do now!
Well, I have to admit that we didn’t spent enough time discussing the observations. Despite the 5 minutes mini break. How often have I said, that the 3h should actually be a day event. And I actually think that would be beneficial. We would have a morning session, then a lunch break and then come together again in the afternoon. In my head I can plan for a series of LTHE days and can see this working really well. Will it ever happen? If the module was offered in blocks, we could have a chance… maybe…
Ok, back to reality and my plan. I think it would be useful to offer a webinar in the next week to discuss this further especially as I can see that some are concerned. Ok, I think I need to think of a day and go ahead with this idea. Can’t afford to just forget about it and assume that everybody will be ok. Thinking of also inviting others who have completed the module and share their experiences about the observations they carried out.
Comments are always very welcome 😉