Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Touchy.. Touchy...

Often speaking at school you think.. bloody hell.. that's not what I meant.

This seems to happen to me a lot as I am a bit introspective at times but will say what I think - and subsequently seem to live with a constant case of foot-in-mouth.

A couple of students came to me and said, "such and such teacher just doesn't understand.. I ask them for help and they don't listen." I sat down and talked with them about the kind of questions they were asking and it turned out to be a conversation like "I just don't understand anything!", to which even I would respond, "then go back to primary. I can't help you either." I then talked to the students about leading questions, redrafting and investigated what they did know. By the end of it, we realised that they had actually learnt a lot from the teacher already and that the angst they were feeling was that they now had to use this knowledge and that this required work.

.. so I said to myself... job well done.. and mentioned it to the teacher and asked if students resubmitting redrafted work was a problem and discussed the conversation I had with the kids.. this was turned on me as, "don't you think I provide scaffolding for my kids." OMG.. I'd just been praising this teacher to students and pointing out what they had already learned!

Another case in point occurred when I was asked did I have a preference to teaching boys or girls, to which I responded I thought I had a bit more experience teaching girls, therefore found it a bit easier.. to which the scamp teacher cheekily replied.. "I find boys easier to teach, are you saying I have less experience with girls?" ARGH!!!

These were jokey experiences, but sadly in teaching often analysis of our strengths and weaknesses, or sharing our ideas is seen as a prelude to punitive action to rectify a perceived issue. This fear often hampers any reform process and causes much angst with regards to performance management issues.

Oh and don't even think about robust discussion or sharing subject passion or investigating your own perceived flaws.

One of the ways of stopping teacher close mindedness is to nip it in the bud with practicum students and promote sharing of ideas (using new media where a young group of teachers is not at hand) to ensure that we become collegiate as a profession and welcome self and group analysis as a way of improving our performance. With many of our experienced teachers on the verge of retirement beaten down by OBE we will need to accelerate the speed that teachers become competent and we can no longer rely on the "closed door, hide in our classroom and teach ourselves" method of learning. It's inefficient, in a world where people change careers like underwear, it is also impractical.

That's my rant for today.

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