I have finally tied up a few of the loosen threads I had in my understanding of the learning process and instruction (teaching). For teaching, that is, the job of selecting or designing tasks/activities/exercises, projecting objectives and measuring the outcomes. And Learning as the process as a whole – considering not just the content but all that is needed to learn it which goes beyond the linguistic and skills based teaching.
Definitely as someone who wants to drift away from the Bank Education that Paulo Freire fought against. Which leads me to the idea of instruction again and again. And that instead of being the instructor (someone who shares knowledge/information through diferent medias (video, podcast, lecture, explanations, then gives the instruction, wait for students to finish it and correct/give feedback), being the mediator of the process which is about,
Organizing and structuring the stimulus and learning experiences with the objective to help the learners to construct their own knowledge. Mediation is not restricted to the classroom, a parent can be the mediator, or anyone that functions as a guide and orients the development process, promoting learning experiences and helping stabilishing goals, organizing the stimulus and interpreting culture. The mediator as Tebar emphasizes stands out because of the intention is to transmit meaning, to provoke a response and transfer knowledge that is meaningful to one’s life. The mediator places him/herself between the stimulus and the learners, adapting the process of learning/teaching to the needs of the learner. (*Tebar, p.541, 2011 – free translation)
Being kind to myself. I’m not a super teacher and nor I wanna be. I pursue meaningful and rich interactions. The kind of interaction that will produce better me, better him/her. Better at mediating process. Better at learning what interests them. Meeting their personal goals instead of solemnly mine or the system. Helping them to becoming better at … for that I accepted that:
It’s ok to have questions. It’s ok to question myself even.What is not ok is not bother to find the answers. Not even attempt to pursue them – the questions. I also believe that questions raised do not need to be pursued alone. We cand do this with our colleagues, in the school we work, or through an online discussion group. Or through blogging, as I usually do. I raise the questions, I try to describe the best I can what I saw and lived in the class (sometimes using recordings to help me get the facts and my notes) and reflect with others on the decisions I’d made and applied in class. Or we can pursue them with a mentor, someone who you trust and you look up to when you need guidance. I believe that dialogically questions can be explored and alternatives generated, and you can find yourself looking at things differently or even it helps you trust your ideas, become more confident.
A teacher nonetheless should be able to spot weakness in her own practice and work on it. But again, not alone. I believe you can only achieve a better understanding of the process through Reflective Practice that promotes dialogic interaction.
What is reflective practice?
Reflective Practice is the act of observing attentively to what you do, say and compare to what was intended to achieve.
Reflective Practice is so organic that it is not prescriptive. It can’t be because the conclusions you may get to in one group of learners might not apply to another, or even from one learner to another. You have to come up with questions that helps you see better, not to hinder or blind you. And let’s be real! Do not trust your perception of reality. Rely on facts. Interpret them. Expand them. Question the facts by raising questions. Discuss them with others. Both your questions, facts and your interpretations.
Although this post had been drafted a week ago, reading Kevin‘s and Josette‘s posts earlier today reminded me of the affective aspect involving the teacher not just the learners as Affective Teaching proposes. Because of that reflection, I added couple of things that leads my post not just towards reflective practice as a way to keep moving forward, not through monologues of course but dialogues. As well as reminding myself that the goal is not to be the super know-it-all but to see the process of learning and teaching as lively, organic and a human act.
If you are looking for a community of teachers to share your journey with consider becoming part of iTDi community and also joining our great #RPPLN with our dear host John Pfordresher – You can jump in anytime.
For more posts on Reflective Challenge #1 including my own, check here.
*Mediator defined by Lorenzo Tebar in his book O Perfil do Professor Mediador: Pedagogia da Mediação, 2011. Unfortunally this book is only available in Spanish and Portuguese. It offers a wonderful coverage of what it means to mediate the cognitive process through building the profile of the mediator. As it focus the attention on the teacher and not the learner, it investigates in what ways the role of the mediator affects the personal and professional life of the teacher, as he/she has to choose and make judgments of what is adequate and what makes it possible for the learner to best assimilate the mediated content.