TEACHERS AS PATCHWORK MAKERS – REMAPPING THE TERRAIN
Catholic University Leuven (BELGIUM)
Classroom teaching is as detail sensitive as an arts work. A perfect design for the delivery of certain knowledge may be completely ruined by the ignorance of one single detail.
What’s more, teaching is constant decision making based on constant observation of the situation in the classroom. As a matter of fact, the teacher has 2 roles in the class: one delivering knowledge as oneself, the other observing everything going on in the classroom including oneself, and constantly making judgments and decisions for the next step.
Based on such delicacy and the constant need of on-spot decision making, what can we do to maximum the possibility of success in a classroom?
Given that 2 teachers have received the same teachers’ training, well informed of all the elements possibly involved in a class, the same years’ experience of teaching, these 2 can still make totally different on-spot judgments and decisions, and create totally different stories in the class, just like 2 patchwork makers finishing with very different end products having the same pieces of patches.
There’re a few interesting things here that are worth attention:
1 The teacher can use the patches, but can’t change (much) the patches (the students, the materials, the teacher self etc.)
2 Both when and where the teacher put the patch matter
3 How the teacher makes the decision of when and where to put which patch matters
4 In the end, all the patches are used up, making the patchworks looking the same in a way, but in another way, the presentations of the patchworks can be very far from each other, i.e. the aesthetic value of a patchwork
5 However, no matter how the patchwork looks like, except for extreme cases, there will be always a number of people finding it suiting best their taste
6 The evaluation of the patchwork might change over time
7 Final question: how to make a patchwork suiting most people’s taste in the class, on the spot and over the time?
To answer this question, there’re 3 questions that need first be addressed:
1 What can be learned and what cannot be learned by teachers?
2 What can be judged beforehand and what cannot?
3 What can be prepared beforehand by teachers and what cannot?
Here comes the key issue: what to prepare and how to cope with the unprepared?
Teachers learn most from extreme experiences: very good time in the class and very bad time. However, the reflections will take place in 2 directions: what to prepare and how to cope with the unprepared?
Reflections on these questions will be made in a self-documentary way. By digging into self-experience and cross-checking with existing relevant theories, I will come up with an elaborate theoretical framework of my understanding on this issue, namely, remapping the terrain.
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