After finishing a university unit and reading the evaluations of other students, I started to mentally digest what makes one unit more effective, enjoyable, rewarding and productive than another. After all, I am in the position of student at the moment as opposed to my usual position as teacher.
“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”
The thoughts of my fellow students have had my mind working overtime as I tried to “steal” some teaching and implementation skills from the unit. Each evaluation I read seemed to repeat many common statements.I found this fascinating as this was not a group to rely on others to think for them, this was a well thought and informed group. Why then the many similarities?
The unit itself was online but regardless of the different formats ie my classroom face to face teaching as opposed to online, I realised that there are many elements I could borrow from this unit:
These elements as I understood, defined and summarised are as follows:
Not in preparing the unit, although every teacher knows that is a “given”. I refer more to “preparing the student” with what is expected of them by the end of the unit. In our case, it was self directed learning and student inter-support. Preparation allows the student to be affirmed in moments of enlightenment or even moments of uncertainty. Referring back to the expectations of the learning allows for a “thinking GPS” where they are able to “work out where they are” and “where they could be heading”. This was based on Gilly Salmon’s 5 Stages.
Again, this seems obvious but by that I mean assuring that the student is able to achieve in the first inital steps so as to “kindle a flame”. This success or assurance of achievement is a lure to continue to take one more step. The student wants to feel like they were smarter than five minutes before and that they are capable of supporting others’ in their learning
New and Uncertain Knowledge
Noone wants to be in a learning situation where there brain is “massaged into numbness”. Nor do they want to be a part of a learning environment that is detached from their understanding. Challenging thoughts that don’t always have the required answer are sociable and ignite communication. Sharing with others and gently navigating with each other around a learning environment is equal to climbing insummountable mountains.
Constructive Positivity in a Non-Competitive Environment:
Nurturing each other’s understandings and knowledge can be just as rewarding for the supporter as it is for the supported. Knowing that students around you feel the desire to comment on your learning suggests that your learning has resonated with them, productively or non-productively, and they feel connected to it. Being in a non competitive environment takes the pressure off individual results and promotes group achievements. A students’ results can depend on their own perception of what others think of their work and thoughts. It doesn’t have to be a final grade or result that determines their success in the learning.
The informed and ideal mapping of the students’ learning with openness to change. I need to remember that students like to know where they are heading so as they feel they are “grasping at the right support” but always encouraging any “off-route discoveries”.
This was the “cookies and cream” comment that regulated in the evaluations. Students expressed that they felt they could take much from this unit and use it in other teaching scenarios that were appropriate to their position of teaching. I guess it is like going to a “knowledge shop”, spending some time there and expecting to come out with some “goodies” that you could take home and use.
The above elements were a summation for me of my understandings of where other students saw strengths in the way learning is encouraged. The number of students seemed to make no difference as I am unsure of how many there were in an online unit. I guess when I enter back into the classroom I will take my “online shopping of teaching and learning skills”, online or face to face, and hopefully make a change…and hopefully, a big change!