Are we there yet?

Nope. And we probably never will be. There are some key things I need to work on. Again the curse of one-shot sessions is the lack of name recognition. Throughout my many different jobs and pastimes, I know the value of knowing people’s names and the connection this can create. This is something I need to work on.

I also need to be braver in using Thinking Environment techniques (Nancy Kline 2002). I have tried using opening rounds in some sessions and they work well. Owing to the length of our sessions these will usually be a bit of a connect activity and linked to the topic. I love the idea that “no one has entered a room until they have spoken” (Kline 2002). It really connects with my democratic and political values, about everyone making themselves heard. After all, as the modern proverb goes: “If you aren’t at the table, you’re probably on the menu.” And it is always so much easier to speak to a group once you have broken that silence in the confidence someone wants to hear your opinion.

In my last observation, my tutor noted the use by a student of his mobile phone to text/social network, rather than engage. Mobile phones are an interesting issue. At the college where I have just finished working there was never a clear policy. Some tutors allowed students to use their phones and others didn’t. In one-shot sessions with other people’s students it is difficult to challenge. I did ask the student on several occasions to put down his phone but on reflection I should have asked him to put it away.

I’m not entirely sure how I will handle this in my new role at a university. Our students are all over 18 and many are postgrad. Indeed, some of our students aren’t students at all but medics working in our affiliated teaching hospitals looking for CPD. Obviously, on-call medics may have more reason than most to keep their phones with them. As people who expect to be treated like adults, they behave like adults. I’m not sure how being asked to put away a phone will go down.

At least that is the positive side of the pro-social approach to classroom management: it treats students like adults and individuals who come together to learn. If I had been more Miss Trunchball about discipline in my previous role, I would have struggled to transfer that approach to proper fully fledged grown ups!

References:

Kline, N. (2002). Time to Think. Cassell.

 

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