Monday, 16 March 2015

A bit of musing

This post may be a bit indulgent, but like Dianne's blog a few of weeks ago, I've begun teaching, both face to face and online.

One of the really useful things about education this century, is that even though I'm currently working from home on limited hours (post leg surgery), it doesn't stop me connecting with my learners or my colleagues. I've been able to establish good connections with my fully online class through a series of discussions where we have pondered what it means to learn online and connect together through Moodle.

Our first three discussions centred on identifying what might be a bit scary or anxiety-inducing, hopes and then what all that might mean for connecting together. These discussions had multiple purposes. Not only did it they break the ice, but also identified how people were feeling and showing how similar people's apprehensions and expectations were. Some of these students who are doing a graduate one-year secondary teacher education programme at a distance - admitted quite a bit of trepidation at working online. So, not only are they embarking on a new career through this programme, but they are also doing it remotely, some while also working. Added to that, some admitted quite a lot of anxiety using online tools to do this programme. Some do it tough!

Others found that their organisation was in need of a big shake-up, so we spent some time sharing ideas about how to make online calendars work across devices, and how to spend time setting them up and knowing in advance what they needed to prepare. Some others commented that they were working across a range of Moodle sites, and each looked different. Some hadn't noticed that we use the block highlight tool to clearly identify which area of the page we were concentrating on, while hadn't noticed that each discussion showed the due date, and clicking on it showed them what the discussion was about. So why do I mention this? I think it suggests that they were having what I tell my husband was a man look - ie that unless it was in neon lights and pointing 'look at me!' then it wasn't there. It points to superficial reading, rather than close reading. They weren't giving themselves permission to dig deep and think deliberately until prompted about what to notice.

So, I'm musing here - speculating if you will - how much time is spent teaching people to read deeply - to drink in some text to ponder. Do we (I include myself here) spend enough time focusing our learners on actively reading to extract meaning? I think the first three discussions we had helped me provide advice about these things, but does that mean we (all teachers, regardless of context) should spend more time on the basic familiarity of text types at the start of everything we teach, particularly in the first few weeks of teaching? Might this reduce future problems for these learners? I wonder...

I'd be keen to know how others familiarise their learners to get used to the routines and practices of specific classes.

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