Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Ch. 1 Experiencing Teaching

I read this book pre injury and therefore it has been almost a month and a half since I have finished it so have forgotten lots. I did really enjoy the book though and found it an easy read and very practical. I have recommended it to my brother who has been teaching for over a decade in high school. I have taken notes along the way and have tried a new technique.  I used to highlight passages etc and take notes on paper but have now decided to try something different, which I think you have to do as an instructor and for that matter a student. I now write comments on the pages and asterisk key passages, making it easier when finding material for self-reflection.  I looked at the chapter and I had marked two passages. On page 7, there is a passage referring to Britzman's (2003) myth that "everything depends on the teacher." Basically if the class has gone well it is because of you and if it goes bad it is also because of you. This is something I struggled with my first year. I felt so much pressure as the instructor to be everything. I found this especially hard when I was teaching a subject I was not as strong in. I was reading the material minutes up to the class and I was expected to know it all. I wonder how many teachers feel like this? Stepping into the class and wondering if a student was going to ask a question I could not answer. Since this first year, I have gained experience and have obtained tools to help me deal with many situations in the class confidently that I don't feel that burden as much. It is still there a bit but the class is more enjoyable for me as a whole. I have since learned that my expectations for what the student brings to the class is higher. I expect them to read up and participate in their learning and contribute to the overall learning environment and not to just rely on the instructor. I am there to guide, to support and be an expert when needed but the student needs to find their way and discover meaning as this is how they will learn. I, as an instructor, can do many things to enable success but it does not always happen.
Key points that have helped me are to be prepared, communicate with your class and listen to your students, have activities that incorporate the outcomes you want for that class and be able to adapt to how the class is doing in that moment. I feel it is always a work in progress.
Communication is key and this is why another passage had an asterisks beside it. On page 8, " I will argue in this book that the key to being a good college teacher is regularly collecting data from your students concerning how they are learning, week in week out, and then using that information to guide your decisions." (Brookfield, 2015) I couldn't agree more.

Britzman, D.P. Practice Makes Practice: A Critical Study of Learning to Teach. Albany:State University of new York Press, 2003.

Brookfield, S. D. (2015). The skillful teacher: on technique, trust, and responsiveness in the classroom. Jossey-Bass.

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