"Reflecting on Teaching and Learning"
What is a teaching session or design element that you have done recently that you are most proud of?
How would you describe yourself as a teacher or learning designer?
Our Biggest Tool is Our Own Mind
We each bring specific mindsets about the nature of learning, learners and teaching that act as different lenses in the way we interpret or imagine curriculum or learning activities. Our mindsets can come from our own experiences as learners, our hard-won knowledge as teachers, teaching or training courses, our personal values and theories, as well as from expectations of the system, procedures, cultural practices and values.
Making the Tacit Explicit
As we build up experience in teaching or learning design much of our knowledge becomes tacit – the submerged part of the iceberg. Without tacit knowledge we would be overwhelmed by trying to keep too many things in attention. However, over time our tacit knowledge may need to be re-examined and renewed. Our enculturation into systems and cultures may have led to unquestioned assumptions and paradigms that shape our mindsets and underpin our practice.
Re-examining Our Tacit Knowledge through going “Meta” can:
- Provide us with language to talk about what we do
- Free ourselves from habits that no longer serve us and help us revitalise those things we deeply value
- Deepen our understanding of teaching and learning
- Open ourselves up to other paradigms and ways of doing things that yield innovative practices
- Help better align our purposes, values, practices, questions and opportunities.
Reflecting on the “Who” of Teaching
In November 2011, as part of a Tools for Learning Design participant’s project, 14 trainers engaged in a workshop to surface some of their tacit teacher “knowledges” and tensions. The PowerPoint below shows some of the simple holistic activities that were used as part of a process to stimulate deep conversations about the being and becoming of teachers.
The Complexity of Teacher Practical Knowledges
Teacher Practical Knowledges, introduced originally by Shulman (1987), is the notion that there are many “knowledges” that teachers need to master. In the following diagram these are listed in the inner circle. In the outer circle are the types of “meta” questions that can help make these tacit knowledges more explicit.
These different knowledges are deeply entangled with each other, so by trying to change or develop one aspect, other aspects are often challenged or may resist transformation. Being aware of the complexity of these enables us to be more mindful, holistic and kind in the way we think about expanding our practice and ourselves.