Friday, 15 February 2019

Facilitating my teaching philosophy

Teaching philosophies are often on my mind - how others perceive and conduct their roles.  I still feel that teaching is facilitation, but I somewhat felt this was an outdated and overused word for it?  So I thought I'd try something different and conduct a discussion to see if I was 'old-fashioned' in my philosophy of what teaching is, being a facilitator.

Instead of me doing a Q&A on many lecturers (as originally planned), I decided to crowdsource peoples opinions via social media.  I brought (tagged) other people into the discussion to widen perspectives and to further question my own.  It was interesting as my insight wasn't antiquated, going on others' views, but just articulated/described differently.  I asked, "What is your #teaching philosophy? Is it different to what you decided at the start of your #teachertraining? I still believe in teachers as facilitators - I'm open to different takes on it."  The responses follow...

The conversation

Ann Gravells - "At the start of my career, I very much had to find things out for myself. Sadly, little support was available back then to new teachers. So I am also an advocate of teachers as facilitators, in order to help learners find things out for themselves."

Me - "Glad you said that, I experienced the same. Perhaps we are strong with this as we experienced this first hand and learnt a lot in doing so. Which we obviously want to pass onto our learners and be independent - which is the main goal."

Scott Hayden - "Humanistic and personalised for each learner. That's what I try to do every day."

Me - "Ah yes the one I connected with most out of the 'three schools of learning' - cognitivist, behaviourist and humanistic. It can sometimes be challenging (like many other things), but I feel it's the most effective approach."

Kate Cuthbert - "Aspire to act as a guide, threshold concepts resonate with my approach, enjoy helping individuals and groups make connections with different pieces of knowledge"

Me - "That's always a pleasure - when you help others to see connections and build on their existing knowledge. And yes, not forgetting the enjoyment of it all!"

Sheila MacNeill - "kindness and empathy go along way too"
Me - "They sure do Sheila - should come before anything else really."

Kay Sidebottom- "Great question! I’d say ‘education as the practice of freedom’ (bell hooks). My role one of facilitator, curator, enabler (but not forgetting I also hold power as the assessor of work...)"

Me - "I like that Kay, a good summary of the role. How about being a learner alongside your learners as @Jessifer commented on further in this thread?"

Kay Sidebottom - "Definitely. Co-constructing the curriculum is a must, although I think current approaches to education as commodity (which can be bought and owned) really acts against this..."

Sheila MacNeill - "totally agree Kay - student as consumer/customer and student journey narratives don’t help here either"

Sue Beckingham- "I like to think I am the guide on the side as opposed to the sage on the stage ;-) Most importantly for me is encouraging students that we can be co-learners."

Jesse Stommel- "I’m not generally a fan of the idea of teachers as “facilitators”. It implies a place for the teacher off to the side of the learning. I think we need to be engaged directly in the process as learners ourselves. I also think a lot of what facilitators do can be done by students."

Me - "I agree with being more involved with learners as a learner, to some extent, and being open about the process. However, I do feel there needs to be that guiding element as learners need 'signposting'. Or at least scaffold this in so they can do it effectively for themselves."

Jesse Stommel - "I would say it's both/and. Teachers help structure a co-creative relationship in the classroom. We also point to and work together with students to critique (and where possible deconstruct) power structures that can't be eradicated with a simple snap of the fingers."

Me - "Well said Jesse, I knew you'd have great views on this topic. I really like the deconstructing aspect, not seen much of this in practice, but I am sure it happens. Ponders."

Neil Mosley - "Agreed, I think the term ‘facilitator’ seems to have come about in part as a reaction to the teacher as the font of authority up front. Easy to swing to far the other way and devalue the role of a teacher."

Me - "I think you're right. The teaching role should be visible (job, paid and being a role model etc), but being more fluid in the approaches and performance?"

Leonard Houx - "Before you use the f-word again, may I recommend this?http://www.cogtech.usc.edu/publications/kirschner_Sweller_Clark.pdf"

Me - "This screenshot is interesting - what do the figures mean? I obviously see the comparison though."

Leonard Houx - "These are effect sizes of various pedagogical methods, the results for each being compiled over multiple studies (hence being meta-analyses)."

Leonard Houx - "The methods on the left are more structured and teacher led, on the right, more spontaneous and student led."

Leonard Houx - "Also, this table by John Hattie: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ewald_Terhart/publication/254225445/figure/tbl1/AS:393195482566661@1470756516853/Effect-sizes-for-teacher-as-activator-and-teacher-as-facilitator.png"

Reaffirming my philosophy

Taking some of the points above, here's my brief (too much to list - might have to revisit) compilation rounding up my final thoughts - most of which I know and practice already but it's good to reaffirm them.

  • Heart at the centre - displaying humanism and empathy is still the core of my teaching approach - to me you can't teach without genuinely caring in nurturing others knowledge and skills, as well as your specialist subject
  • Continue to draw on my previous experiences and aim to motivate others with my infectious enthusiasm - how to be self-sufficient and proactive like myself
  • Enjoy the (often challenging and energy/soul draining) process of sharing and helping others to understand and learn new knowledge and skills
  • Hold a central position/role as a teacher but not dominating with authority.  Allow learners to be a part of the design and parts of delivery - they have ownership of their learning as much as teachers do over the assessment
  • Facilitate/coordinate/differentiate - know when to act on this (do and delegate) and to stand back
  • Learn alongside learners - we know our stuff but don't know it all (hard to accept), be open in letting students in on what I am learning on the 'back channels'

An idea - I will try and blend (bodge) this information together with teacher engagement that is useful for my side project of exploring purposeful technology - separate blog post to follow at some point.