Tag Archives: blog challenge

Action plan: The new beginning to the RP challenge #RPPLN

Thanks, first of all, to the #RPPLN for seeing me through this process of reflecting both on my class and on myself as a reflective teacher. Without your questions, comments, further questions, responses, honesty and support, I would not have gotten nearly so much out of this challenge.

My work schedule has changed rather dramatically and so I don’t see much time for blogging with all the planning and organizing I need to do, but I will not leave this task unfinished.

As John Pfordresher reminded me, it is time to think SMART (and maybe also help myself with my tightly-scheduled future).

The challenge: 

SMART plans are a critical component to the ELC. It is with our actions plans that we take what we have learned through our reflective process and attempt to apply lessons learned in our next experience. And then the ELC process starts anew!

So, let’s talk SMART. This is an acronym for

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Relevant

Time frame (also could be time bound)

Referring back to my description, interpretation and generalizations,  I want to add a criteria to my action plan: that it is in keeping with my beliefs about teaching and learning.

I also want to say that this takes a lot longer to think about than it looks like just reading it written out in a (very short!) blog post. The following action plan is formed from things I have already tried and new ideas that have since come to me.

The next time I see Josh (or any student) reluctant to participate, I will check to make sure they understand the aims of the task by asking the whole class directly, so that I can get feedback without singling someone out. If something else is at issue, that is beyond my control, then I can sort out other strategies through further reflective cycles and add them to the repertoire.

Since I have been teaching this class continuously throughout the challenge, I would like to end by reporting that Josh is doing much better these days. One of the things that “worked” was giving him a way to shine in class – through an English-only policy (in reality, English-mostly) which benefits everyone but really challenges students like Josh to show their talents. I actually caught him helping his less-productive classmates today.

Something that happened today (#OneThing blog challenge post)

It seems like I come home from work nearly every day and shrug and say, nothing much happened today. Of course that’s pretty silly. Lots of things are always happening and I am just not attaching importance to them. So the purpose of this blog challenge (for myself) is to pay attention to what happens in a day, reflect on it, and share it. I invite you to join me.

butterfly closeup

Image by Josh Kellogg used under Creative Commons license

 

Something that happened today:

H came to class, sat down, and said, “Anne, I didn’t do any of my homework.”
H’s class is one-on-one. His homework was to prepare a presentation about a film or book that he wants to share. Mondays are Presentation Day.
I sighed. “Okay,” I said.
“Let’s work on essay writing more today,” he said.
“Did you write the thesis statement for your compare/contrast essay?”
“No.”
“Did you finish outlining the part about imagery?”
“No.”
“Okay. Did you print the story that you lost?”
“Yes.”
“Okay, let’s try to find specific examples of imagery.”

And that’s what we did for the rest of the class. He re-read parts of the stories in depth, asked questions about words he didn’t know for sure, and underlined examples of imagery. He wrote the examples in his notebook and finally, as the class was ending, I asked him to look at what he’d written for each story. And he had an a-ha moment. I watched his eyes light up as he saw that the examples he had found and written on his own were going to be relevant to his essay – there was clear contrast.

And I had an a-ha moment, too. I realized that while it’s important to read carefully and deeply, it’s also important to pull back sometimes and see the bigger picture. So the class didn’t go the way I thought it would, but learning appears to have happened and I’m content with that.

Image by Didier Descouens used under Creative Commons license

Image by Didier Descouens used under Creative Commons license

RP 5: The Challenge to Generalize

Following is my attempt at the next Reflective Practice Blog Challenge: generalization. 

This challenge was set by Zhenya Polosatova over at John Pfordresher’s blog.

Here are the directions for the challenge: 

Directions for RP Challenge 5: look back at the description and analysis you provided and formulate generalizations about learning, teaching, communication, (personal and professional) awareness, etc. Are you surprised to see the generalizations you wrote? Have you had them for a long time or are they the result of that particular experience you had?

To see how others have approached the challenge, check out Hana’s post on How I see it now and Kate’s post on iamlearningteaching.

 

One thing that I have come to love about reflective practice is exploring my beliefs. When I first started I remember clearly claiming that I didn’t have any beliefs. To me beliefs were things that I couldn’t change my mind about. Sure I had strong feelings on some things, but I didn’t want to be stuck to those in my own mind or anyone else’s. As I’ve been practicing, reflecting and blogging, I’ve started to uncover the beliefs I didn’t think I had, much to my own astonishment. Now I sort of enjoy the process – peering into my practice and saying “Oh, look. This must be a belief!” and then taking a closer look at it to see if stands up to scrutiny. I don’t feel so afraid of being attached to beliefs anymore.

In the interest of uncovering my beliefs, I took the Teaching Perspectives Inventory online. I’ll tell you more about that in another post perhaps. I mention it because my highest score is for Nurturing (this makes sense to me since I think L2 communication requires vulnerability). And this is exactly what I did not do with Josh, which makes me wonder whether what I believe and claim to do is how my students perceive me.

And so with all these things I mind, I begin to generalize from my analysis of my description of the incident in my class.

 

I wrote: He may get a disproportionate amount of attention and that could affect his behaviour as well as how I approach him in class.
It seems I believe: It is necessary to give equal attention to all students in a class.

I wrote: It is possible that they don’t know how to approach the materials and that I’m not giving them enough guidance. It’s possible that determining main ideas is quite a new task for them and I am not patient enough.
It seems I believe: Giving students more guidance when approaching new tasks and materials and understanding that students are not always comfortable doing things they’re not sure they can get right is good practice.

I wrote: It is possible that my instructions were unclear.
It seems I believe: Giving clear instructions and checking understanding of those will make an activity more smooth.

I wrote: It’s likely that Josh didn’t make eye contact because it would be rude to do so in Korean culture when (he thinks) he is in trouble.
It seems I believe: Understanding students’ culture can help avoid misinterpretation of body language.

I wrote (in a comment): The interactive way I teach didn’t register to them as “study” and they thought they’d just been playing around, which is why they weren’t taking it seriously.
It seems I believe: Making objectives of each activity clear to the students can prevent misunderstanding.

 

Most of these statements seem pretty obvious to me. The one that surprises me most is the first one: “It is necessary to give equal attention to all students in a class.” I’m not sure whether I believe or practice this. Not all learners are alike and some are more independent while others if I take my eyes off them for five seconds they might burn the building down.

One thing I didn’t touch on is the role of empathy and whether or how I’m meeting the students’ needs (and my own). This is important to me so I’m surprised by its absence.

Thank you for joining me on this exploration. I look forward to your comments!

RPC 3: Description

RPC 3: Description

Instructions From John’s Original Post:

“Think about a negative interaction you have had in your classroom. Not an entire lesson, but a single interaction that occurred between you and someone else (a student, another teacher, a parent, etc).

Our task today is to take this negative interaction and describe it. It is important that we describe and describe only.

In addition, I would like us to pay particular attention to the feelings of all those involved. How did we feel? How do we think the student(s) felt. For now, let’s not analyze why we think they felt one way or another (that’s for our next challenge).”

 As you might have seen from my comment on John’s original post, I have no intention of including the feelings of any participant other than myself. I am also going to try to state those feelings first and stick to pure description after that.

I invite readers to ask me questions to help clarify the description and to point out where my description might be turning into judgment or analysis (through use of loaded language or whatever), but I’m not looking for analysis, advice or suggestions at this time.

Let’s go!

This scenario took place last Wednesday night. It was around 9pm and the final class of the day. The students had already been studying at our academy since 6:30 and the class before mine is a translation class. There are 12 students in this class – five boys and seven girls. One of the girls was absent. The classroom seating is arranged in a circle with all seats facing the board. The students are using Thoughts and Notions – a reading textbook. On the day in question, they were working on a reading about “Umbrellas.” This was their third day with this reading. As homework I had asked them to make umbrellas with main ideas inside and supporting details underneath (an umbrella for each paragraph of the reading).

“Josh,” the subject of this description, had not done this assignment. I selected students to put their umbrellas on the board and we checked them together. Josh did not take this opportunity to complete the homework in his notebook, nor did two others who had not completed the homework. I said, “Anyone who has not completed the homework should write down the main ideas and details in your notebooks. You don’t need to draw umbrellas.” Two other students began writing – one drew umbrellas and the other wrote main ideas and details.

Josh did nothing. He was frowning and looking at his desk. I thought his eyes were kind of glassy. I went over and repeated my instruction. He didn’t even acknowledge that I had spoken. I repeated his name until he looked at me. Then I showed him the umbrellas on the board and pointed to the sentences one by one. I repeated, “You don’t need to draw the umbrellas. Just write the main ideas. That’s all. Then write the details under.” Without verbal acknowledgement he pulled his notebook towards him and started to write. When I checked back later he had completed it and was ready to move on to the worksheet.

Throughout this encounter, I was quite frustrated. My expectations of Josh were higher than he was willing to put forth that day.

Here ends my description. I hope you can help me with your questions and comments.

 

Edit: I want to thank everyone for the thoughtful comments! 

Here are some more descriptions to read and add your insights to: 

RP3 – The Description Phase on How I see it now by @HanaTicha

RP Challenge 3: ELC Description by David Harbinson (@DavidHarbinson)

Reflective Practice Mission Statement

I have no idea what this is. However, I have been inspired by Mr. John Pfordresher and Ms. Ann Loseva to enter this conversation and so I will try. 

Wikipedia’s help:

These are the components of a mission statement:

  1. Key market – who is your target client/customer? (generalize if needed)
  2. Contribution – what product or service do you provide to that client?
  3. Distinction – what makes your product or service unique, so that the client would choose you?

These are what it should do:

  • Define what the company is
  • Be limited to exclude some ventures
  • Be broad enough to allow for creative growth
  • Distinguish the company from all others
  • Serve as framework to evaluate current activities
  • Be stated clearly so that it is understood by all

Step by step, then:

1. Who is my key market? For whom do I reflect? Well, I guess my target customer is me. My students (and friends?) might experience occasional benefits, but those are side effects.

2. What product or service do I provide? Why do I reflect? I reflect in order to increase my awareness of what is happening in my class (or in my life, as John reminded me). Life is full of emotion but I want to view each situation objectively and see what is really there. However, I don’t want to (and probably can’t) divorce myself of emotion so I want to see my heart’s realities alongside the objective realities. I want to invite others to join me in this process so that I maintain a balance.

3. What makes my product unique? I do. And so does every contribution and question and strategy offered by anyone who is interested. The combination of our efforts will produce a unique result every time. That is worth remembering – since the reflective spiral is never complete and there are always more angles (or lenses) and more questions to be asked.

Have I fulfilled the criteria? You get to decide.

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