Reflective (Practice) Reading Club

RP Reading Club, or Conversations about Reflection

#RPClub

I am a big believer in group reflection on teaching, or peer professional development (PD): it is more fun, more interaction, and eventually, more learning. I also believe in Synergy as a stage of group development when the pools of resources from the individual members make the ‘whole’ result greater than the simple ‘sum’ of its parts.

There are certain PD activities that seem to be more ‘group’-like by nature (observing and discussing each other’s lessons, attending conferences and webinars, etc.). However, there are also those that might feel lonely, and even a little boring at times. To me, one of the examples of the latter would be reading (articles and books). The idea of the RP Reading Club, therefore, is to create a communication channel between like-minded educators and to discuss articles (and books) about Reflection and Reflective Practices.

Below I am brainstorming some possible ways of reading an article together:

  • writing a review with certain word limit (e.g. 500 words, or less)
  • choosing parts or quotes to think about (‘quotable quotes‘ and why they resonate with us)
  • creating questions to ask the authors
  • asking questions to another reader
  • sharing the answers to the questions asked (own questions)
  • sharing the answers to the questions from the other reader
  • listing no more than 8 points that stood out for me in the reading
  • creating a visual/mind map, etc. on the article
  • choosing a metaphor to best illustrate what the article is about
  • creating a reading task for this specific article as if you were bringing it to other teachers/colleagues, etc.

One of my personal goals for trying the idea of Reading Club is learning about ways to structure/organize my own reading notes. I don’t have such system in place yet but keep experimenting. At the moment it is a kind of checklist I use to keep notes on my reading (all the points below, or some of them, depending on the article)

title

author

publisher/source

date when read

one sentence summary, or key words/terms

quotes to be remembered

my own learning (based on the author’s ideas)

wondering/curious about (questions)

why I would like to get back to this article in the future

When I was a middle-school student, our teacher encouraged us to have a written log of the books we read outside of the ‘official’ school curriculum. It was a chart in a notebook where the headings were written in bright colors on the last page and all the other pages were cut (this way you could always see the headings, even if you turn pages — something similar to ‘freezing’ or ‘locking’ rows or columns on a spreadsheet now) The notes we had to take were about the author, the title of the book, number of pages, dates when a book was read, brief summary on the content and other ideas brought by the book.

Questions to the readers:

Do you keep a Reading Log of any kind?

Do you have a system of keeping notes on what you are reading?

Would you like to participate in a ‘Reading Club’?

Are there any posts you have already written, or read, which focus on the same idea?

Example: a post by Kevin Stein on his blog inspired by Kathleen Bailey’s article Reflective teaching: Situating our stories (1997) Asian Journal of English Language Teaching, 7(1), 1-19

Next step: my colleague and I will be trying out the idea of this interactive RP Club, so expect another post shortly where we will share our first ‘reading together’ experience. Till soon! 🙂

About Zhenya

ELT: teacher educator, trainer coach, reflective practice addict https://wednesdayseminars.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in Reflective Practice and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Reflective (Practice) Reading Club

  1. Hi Zhenya, talk about synergy (or hoped for synergy at least!) – I was thinking of doing something like this, but just as an individual activity. I got started but then I stopped, maybe because of the lack of a support group (motivators!). I started reading about observation and writing about it here: https://exploreteaching.wordpress.com/

    Sadly my enthusiasm has dipped a little, and I’ve been busy with other things recently. But maybe I’d pick it up again, maybe …

    Mike

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    • Zhenya says:

      Hi Mike

      Thank you for the comment – and for the link! Yes, a similar idea/project – I like that you decided to read a book (as opposed to the articles, as we are starting right now) ‘Observation in the Language Classroom’ seems to be a great (and thought-provoking) read.

      Well, as for your enthusiasm dipping a little – I guess I see/saw this as an ‘anticipated challenge’ for myself (if reading alone) that’s why am trying to start something as a group. Let’s see what happens.

      And who knows – maybe, just maybe, you get inspired to get back to sharing about the book you started (and probably finished by now)?

      Zhenya

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wilma Luth says:

    Hi Zhenya – thanks for getting this started! I’m looking forward to kicking off the RP Club!

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  3. Linda-Marie Koza says:

    Zhenya, I’d like to join your RP reading club! What a great idea! What are you reading now?

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    • Zhenya says:

      Hi Linda-Marie

      Thank you for the comment! You are more than welcome to join (at the moment there are only two people in the ‘club’ actually) We have been reading Donald Freeman’s ‘Teacher Training, Development, Decision Making: A Model for Teaching and Related Strategies for Language Teacher Education’. I am not sure we have a public version of the article but can e-mail it to you (I owe you an e-mail anyway – which I remember about 🙂

      Thank you for reading, and let’s stay in touch!
      Zhenya

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  4. Anastasia says:

    Hello, Zhenya! I think the idea of the club is great. When I read I use sticky notes to mark the pages or ideas I like. After finishing reading, I sit down, look at my bookmarks again and trasnfer what I found useful and interesting in my notebok. Quite often it is examples of activities or ideas for the lesson, so I often look through my notebook if I need some inspiration. Here I wrote about the ways to store information for teachers and has my old notebook there as well 🙂 http://nastyageinrikh.blogspot.ru/2014/11/bookmarking-and-information-storage-for.html

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    • Zhenya says:

      Hi Anastasia

      First of all, thank you for reading and leaving your comment (and for supporting the idea of the Club, of course!)

      Thank you for sharing the way you read PD books: I like how you utilize sticky notes and how systematic you are about sitting down and writing the ideas down after you finish reading (something I need to be more organized in!) Your notebook looks great and well used – thank you for the link to the post (hope to read it in more detail and might leave a comment soon-ish).

      The Reading Club (as we see it at the moment, who knows how it is going to develop) is focusing on more theoretical articles (reflection on teaching, etc.) and therefore needs a different effort (I mean, there might not be specific activities to try in class but more ‘philosophical’ ideas or concepts) Hope that the future posts will clarify this better than I am trying now. In any case, I will make sure I have plenty of sticky notes – love them and use them a lot, to be honest 🙂

      Thank you for the comment and for helping me become more clear about the idea of the reading adventure 🙂

      Zhenya

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      • Anastasia says:

        Zhenya, I see how we were talking about different content. I think it has to do with where I am in Maslow pyramid of teachers’ needs 🙂 I’m moving away from the basics but I still need some “solid stuff”. But again I would be really interested in reading the articles you’ve mentioned especially in a circle of collagues.

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        • Zhenya says:

          Yes, different content – and mostly context, I think: sometimes it is more focus on practical ideas, and sometimes it is a ‘step away’ time. From the time I read your comment I’ve been thinking to re-activate my ‘activity search’ (from books and blogs) – so I think various purposes can be combined. Let’s see what the next step will be! 🙂
          Zhenya

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  5. kevchanwow says:

    Zehnya,

    I love the idea of creating a community around teachers to share and explore articles about Reflective Practices. There often seems to be a lively debate going on when it comes to articles about vocabulary or SLA or even extensive reading, but rarely RP. Perhaps that’s just part of the nature of reflective practices itself, the need to think carefully about what’s going on in your own classroom. By the time I read an article, think it over, put it into practice, and think it over again, what I am usually left focusing on isn’t the article, but the things that happened in my class. So I’m very much interested in being part of a group of people who shares their reactions to RP articles so I can perhaps get a better handle on what I think about an article and how I understand an article before I apply it to my practices.

    I also wanted to thank you for linking to my post. I love Kathleen Bailey’s article, and the way she uses narrative in her reflective practices. I’m so happy to think other teachers might be reading her rich and moving piece thanks to you pointing them towards my blog.

    Kevin

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    • Zhenya says:

      Hi Kevin

      Thank you very much for reading and leaving your supportive comment. Yes, I also noticed that there is more focus on language or teaching (skills), at the same time less attention and discussion about reflecting on the experience (the process of reflection itself). Your post was a good example for me: the way you wrote about the article motivated me to read it and think about my own practices.

      I am also thinking now that reading and reflecting on that specific article can be great for the club (the last sentence of your comment made me realize that!)

      Thank you once again for reading, and I am looking forward to further reflective conversations!

      Zhenya

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  6. Ron Bradley says:

    Hi Zhenya:

    Could you please e-mail Donald Freeman’s article? “Teacher Training, Development….”

    Thanks and hoping all is well, Ron

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    • Zhenya says:

      Have just sent it to you, Ron. If you decide to join us in the reading + sharing for the RP Club, and would like to post your reflections on the article, you are most welcome to be a guest blogger here!

      Zhenya

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  7. Ron Bradley says:

    Hi Again: I found the whole TESOL Journal (attached) from which comes the article. It’s really good. I will do some follow up.

    Ron

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  11. Sandy Millin says:

    Hi Zhenya,
    This is a great idea, and one I’ve been playing around with in my head since I did my Delta, but you got there ahead of me! I even registered a blog address for it, but that’s as far as I got! I look forward to seeing how this develops, and if and when I ever get into a classroom again I’d love to join in.
    Good luck!
    Sandy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zhenya says:

      Hi Sandy
      Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. It great to hear that you also had (still have?) a similar idea in mind. Did you have anyone else to try it with? I find that this RP Club idea is something I am not planning to rush with, but I would really like to keep reading and discussing with colleagues. Maybe can link to your blog? Let’s think together.

      Like

      • Sandy Millin says:

        Not yet. Maybe it’s something we can talk about and kick-start. I’m not in any rush either, but that’s probably why it’s been two years and I haven’t got around to it yet! (Although, to be fair, life’s kind of got in the way too!) Can’t remember what other media you’re on and which of your contact details I have?

        Liked by 1 person

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