And so it begins… I start a small pilot study tomorrow. I thought I should go through the process of being an independent researcher while I still have the resources of the University close at hand, since it won’t be too long before I’m out on my own! Wish me luck!
I’ve been given the opportunity to sit in on a colleague’s class and offer feedback on his teaching. Now, as I mentioned to him, it’s a bit like gilding the lily: he’s already what I would consider a masterful teacher. I shall learn as much from him as he shall receive from me, I’m sure.
But Deborah Ball offers some advice that is helpful.
“No single issue is the essential one; none is definitively inappropriate. The traditional isolationist culture in teaching — that everyone has to find his or her own style, that admitting to reaching an impasse or having a hard time is tantamount to an admission of incompetence — has a crippling aspect of our work as a community of educators. (p. 34)
By opening his door, and by offering the example of opening his door he’s a great role model for the rest of us. And the discussion we’ll have about his choices will be valuable. I would argue that Ball doesn’t go far enough. It’s not just “reaching an impasse” but thinking that you’ve got the teaching process “down pat” that’s dangerous. I cringe, remembering “the book” at one of my first teaching placements — it contained the script of all my lessons I was meant to teach, all the examples, all the homework. They were well worn pages, too, and I was cautioned not to damage anything so that they could continue to be reused by all the sections in the coming years.
At the same time, although we know better, we seem to talk as though ‘a right way’ exists to motivate students, to teach place value or to respond to certain kinds of questions from students. On one hand, then we have pretended that we have nothing to learn from one another. And on the other, we have pretended that teaching is simple and straightforward. (p. 38)
Our focus will be on the discourse in classroom; who’s talking, when, why and how? Although this is just a personal project and nothing will be noted here, I hope it will serve to inspire not only my research but improvement in my teaching when I return to the classroom.
Ball, Deborah. (2008). What’s all this talk about ‘discourse’?. In P. Elliott (Ed.) & Elliott, C., Getting into the mathematic conversation (pp. 32-39). Reston, VA : NCTM.