So Step 2 was having a series of imagined scenes playing out in my mind of the students wrestling with the Central Provocation: There are some kids who are plain unteachable. (This imagining/visualising is similar, isn’t it, to the high jumper imagining, even befroe she sets offf on her approach to the bar, the spring in her step at take-off, the arching of her back, the upward thrust of her arms to gain more height, the smooth glide over the bar?)
Yesterday I wrote about how my students would be writing, chatting, moving around the room, speculating, reading, analysing, and so on. I realised, when I re-read this, that I’d left out at least two elements in my imagined scenes.
First of all, I implied but did not explicitly mention the sense of play. I want my students to feel that they’re able to explore as freely (and as pleasurably) as little children in a sandpit, trying things out, trying on personas, taking some risks, having some purposeful fun, sometimes on their own and sometimes with others.
Nor, paradoxically, did I didn’t mention the inevitable anxiety. There’d be moments, maybe even extended periods, when the students would find themselves asking uncomfortable questions. Why was there not a more defined and predictable syllabus that we were following? Was this unit giving them the knowledge, strategies and guidance they needed? Would they be properly prepared when it came their turn in front of a class? Student anxiety is uncomfortable for the teacher as well as the student. There’s a temptation to rush in, to make things prematurely safe and comfortable. But teacher education students need to become conscious of the gaps in their current ways of thinking about the lifeworlds of classrooms. The provocation is going to inevitably lead to an awareness of gaps. The trick will be how to allow room for this anxiety to manifest itself without it becoming overwhelming.
This leads to Step 3 in my designing of the unit: structuring the sessions and the assessments so that exploring the complex world opened up by the Central Provocation becomes manageable as well as unavoidable.
How would something like this work?
The Central Provocation: There are some kids who are just plain unteachable.
Session 1 (4 hours): Exploring the Central Provocation: collaborative sharing of stories and first thoughts, and exploration of way(s) we might usefully come to understand the underlying issues better. Action Research Project explained, students decide who their chosen subject will be. HBDI profiles explored and discussed.
Session 2 (4 hours): Is X (the subject of my Action Research Project) a challenge because of a physical, social or intellectual deficit? Lecture, group work, readings, activities.
Quiz 1a (10%). Combination of multi-choice & short answer questions, based on selected textbook chapters, and requiring making explicit speculative connections to chosen subject X.
Session 3 (4 hours): Is there a way of organising the classroom that would make a difference to my chosen subject X? This would be a session around Krause’s three models of classroom management.
Session 4 (4 hours): What do those at the chalkface have to say about our Central Provocation? Stories from practising teachers, and in panel and small groups.
Professional Learning Week (organised by others, on things like safe use of ICT, classroom management, including school visits)
Beginning of placements?
Quiz 1b (10%). Combination of multi-choice & short answer questions, based on selected textbook chapters, and requiring the making explicit speculative connections to chosen subject X.
Session 5 (4 hours): Is my chosen subject X unteachable because he/she is illiterate/innumerate? Session around Tovani approaches & activities.
Session 6 (4 hours): Sharing of ideas about, and discussion of, the Take Home Test in Week 11 and the Professional Knowledge Bank in Week 15.
Take home test (30%): Written response to the following: In what specific ways has your reading (mandated and self-selected) contributed to your understanding of, and modified your thinking about, the Central Provocation?
Submit Professional Knowledge Bank (50%). A Mahara page organised around the following:
In this Unit you have explored the Central Provocation by learning about
a. Approaches to organising classroom activities
b. Literacy and numeracy strategies
c. Strategies for safely using ICTs to expand the curriculum
d. Approaches to managing challenging behaviour
e. Effective feedback
f. physical, social and intellectual development
Which of these six do you need to find out most about (either because it’s particularly interesting to you, or because it’s especially relevant to your chosen subject X? Research it. Prepare a Mahara page which reports on your research (readings, conversations, activities, UC sessions, observations). Discuss its relevance to the Central Provocation.
If you’ve got this far, thank you!
I’d love some feedback, particularly on the following:
If you were an M.Teach student and you saw this plan, what thoughts and/or feelings would you have? What would work for you, and what wouldn’t?
Also, let me know if you’re interested in being a part of Session 4.