Friday, 19 May 2017

Teacher bias v individual learning styles... or tall poppies?

In order to unpack my earlier post, I have looked further into alternative possibilities as to why this occurred. I asked my learners to identify and discuss both sides of a provocation. A simple task or so I thought until I thought about what I had actually asked my learners to do. On a surface level their task was to simply read the text, identify both perspectives and then take part in a learning conversation that was contrived as I gave them the perspective from which they were to argue from. I was in fact expecting my learners to accept the perspective I had given them without considering what their actual perspective might actually be. 

When you have more able learners they instinctively look deeper at the learning. I realise now that my own bias is what put obstacles in the way. I did not consider that my learners might need to first make connections to the new learning by tapping into their prior knowledge. I did not consider that they might want to consider both sides of the argument by synthesising the information in the current text with information previously uncovered in alternative texts, and I definitely did not consider that by asking my learners to 'compare' and 'make a decision' that I needed to allow more time for these connections to be made. Johnsen and Goree (2009) state that 'An interest cannot always be “turned on” .... some flexibility must be built into the process so that students have choices of what, when, how, and how much they want to explore a topic.'

My next step:

  • To have a conversation with my learners and take time to really listen to how they think they learn best then adapt and embrace the changes I am sure I need to make.'Effective pedagogy requires that teachers inquire into the impact of their teaching on their students.' (NZC)