Doing what comes un/naturally. The risky teacher: ‘to innovate is to stimulate’

Doing what comes un/naturally

The risky teacher: ‘to innovate is to stimulate’

The is in response to a colleague who asks about being a risky teacher – the question was aimed at Trainee PCET teachers but I have responded with reflexive reference to my own teaching.
Personally I think that risk is a vital part of anything that we are to do well. I keep referring to work on expertise and hope to find those references again. There are some things you read that amount to epiphanous moment. This body of work was one.
The talk about experts being people who achieve and retain expertise by pushing themselves consistently beyond their comfort zone. They retained expertise not by staying in a state of ‘unconscious competence’ but actually through I guess much further down the scale – conscious incompetence or conscious competence.  They spend a great deal of time sifting and sorting through problems. They are good at framing problems. The expert is actually ne who is acutely aware that they do not know. But the basis of the expertise lay in their capacity to analyse and frame situations clearly. 

So – I have been tracing for so many years – in one context or another. And when not directly teaching, have been managing, organising and supporting teaching.
The last two years feels like they have been the most intensive teaching years I have had in a long time. Last year as exhausting, his year I have had time to consolidate. But, this is all about the being an academic It has felt the most exciting and exhilarating thing I have ever done. I cannot imagine ever getting tired of it.
The risks:
Challenging views of literacy
I have worked to introduce the idea of literacy as social practices to my students. With some success. I teach differently and they learn differently in the small group, seated around a table style. For the first time, I felt like I understood and was conscious of them struggling to get to grips with something, Teaching about literacy as social practices is a risk because it potentially flings them into an overly theoretical frame and does not acknowledge their need for training as first aid – to help them manage their teaching situations better. It may produce resistance (all other things being equal) and may place more focus on concerns other than direct classroom encounters. I have risked the approach and while I feel conscious of having plenty to learn. I am pleased with how it has worked and feel very empathetic with them as they struggle to get to grips.
Digital literacy
I have risked working with ICT. I am I realise almost equating risk and experimentation. But I enjoy ICT and feel it offers enormous potential. I am please with my year 1s and twitter. I like the way the wiki and the blog have been embedded on eBridge. I enjoy this blog enormously and I look forward to promoting it as an academic blog. I think it means leaving the link all over the place. I was particularly pleased with the UoH Blog and look forward t how this may be developed in time. This has worked well thought I think the blog needed to be followed through with a link to assignments and other Modules. Twitter needs an equally as pronounced framing.  Every week I need to tweet an intro to the session.  
Of course I am now pleased with Azumah’s PCET podcasts and will spend time on Thursday developing these more.
The risky teacher – to innovate is to stimulate – doing what comes un/naturally.
Teachers are more creative when they consolidate. As a teacher once my session is planned, I can feel a little relaxed and then begin to explore other approaches and resources. I have the freedom and space to play with it and see what emerges.
Teachers can make a conscious choice to do things differently on a year on year basis. I think it does not matter very much what – the point is to create and cultivate an approach, a learning culture which you and your student get used to. I realise that my students are so used t me recording sessions I now no longer need to ask permission.
Teachers need to remind themselves to inhabit a space that is just outside their comfort zone. This may mean not doing what comes naturally. Sitting down as a teacher rather than standing. Not suing PowerPoint. Letting a discussion flow for longer than normal. Allowing moments of silence and space between thought.
Some data – some analysis
·       They return to this point, that’s the reality isn’t it.  Whatever you say, they’ve still go to develop and exhibit these skills.
·       Student success is about relationship – student tutor relationship and student – student relationship
There are contradictory discourse flying around. Different ideas that contradict. They are learning – learning is risky. Taking risks with ideas. Taking risks in developing a new identity. Taking risks with developing a new set of foundations o which to base your pedagogy and base you sense of self. It seems t make sense that students may well have different ideas and that these ideas may contradict.
The group may not have  experience of skills for life, but amidst the cynicism, they have integrity. I hear think of the teacher who resigned her lost (hurly hrs) meaning less money in preference to a) giving up the diploma course b) delivering what felt like a poor quality course because she did not have time to do a good job.
There is a sense of this is reality. These exams, this funding regime. A lot of talk about funding. Colleges learning how to maximise funding through reframing courses, not because this is what makes sense pedagogically but because this is what secures resource. A sense that resistance is futile. This is a fixed set of circumstances. Social ordering that has the appearance of obduracy.
Yet, the tick box mentality firmly in the background – the other students notes what matters. This is reality and this is what matters is relationship – student / student and teacher / students as the thing that underpins success. I am unclear about this reading of the text. But this does not matter. What it signifies is that this student notices and chooses to accentuate this.
Student success is about relationship. I might as an exercise get them to explore and explain these comments next week. It is about relationship – this means that if they succeed, they succeed because they have good relationships with the teacher and other students in the class.
Why do I pace these statements in opposition to each other?
One seems grounded in ‘reality’ the other seems to draw upon something much less fixed, the ambiguity of relationship. I think here he is saying more than relationships being un problematic – this is snot neutrality as such but relationship as a direct motivator.
Notes from session and data
I seem to have developed a habit of writing late night. I always think of myself as a morning person – but somehow I write at night and the ideas have a kind of flow to them.
So, I think this evening about my teaching. It was such a stimulating and enjoyable session they enjoyed it and ended up by saying thanks – something they do to always say. It worked they all worked with me to unpick the puzzle I presented.
I am listening to the session now and so these are notes – partly observational notes and partly notes that may form part of data analysis.
Good teachers
Asked a central question and then sit back and let them explore. Return to the central question that becomes something of a theme throughout the session the question itself was based on the thread of their discussion. I picked up what they were talking through, encapsulating the issue and feeding it back to them.
I assume they are familiar with theories of learning and they may well not be, but I do briefly outline the nature of the theories.  I need to reframe and order my learning theories.
I like the pauses. You give them time to think about things.
I am good at listening to what they say, reframing it and linking it to what others say. I note similarities and differences.
I have a clear sense of the key points I want to make but I know the kinds of issues that emerge will offer scope and space for this discussion – so what s the importance of learning theory and literacy learning
I do interrupt a bit and speak over – I hope I acknowledge more, my body language may achieve this.
I am too argumentative – but I am good at leading them to a point through effective questioning. What I think I need to clarify in my mind what are the outcomes I want to achieve – are they knowledge based or competence based
The session feels structured. I have a sense of direction – I allow them space to explore but then move things on hen a natural pause or lull a]occurs. The session feels varied and as if you are following their agenda. This was an excellent discussion.
What a difference the environment makes; what a difference. The room is open, we all sit together. At the end of the session one student comments about how nice it is to see me that I am not hidden behind the computer – as happens with the layout of the other room. Thought I never stay put but am bound by the PPt.
Un/reconciled literacies
They return to this point, that’s the reality isn’t it.  Whatever you say, they’ve still go to develop and exhibit these skills.
Student success is about relationship – student tutor relationship and student – student relationship
Differences in reading – we read the same thing but notice different elements in the extent; what we note depends on our experience and what we choose to highlight as significant.
They are acutely aware of the culture and context within which literacy and language persist.  As a teacher this is how I frame spelling & it’s significant – but these are the wider social implications

Drafted Thursday 10th November @ 3.00am
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Drafted Thursday 10th November @ 3.00am

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