RPClub post 1: KASA Model

by Zhenya

Recently I shared an idea on how to make reading articles for our professional development more interactive here. You are now reading the first post in the series, which is focusing on Donald Freeman’s article ‘Teacher Training, Development, Decision Making: A Model for Teaching and Related Strategies for Language Teacher Education.’

This article is one of those readings I often come back to. Over the last 7 years, I have read it more than five times already, every time with a different purpose or focus.

Why do I like this article and keep coming back to it times and times again?

  • shares a view on Language Teaching with a focus on Teaching, not Language in it
  • explains and defines KASA in Teaching in the most clear way to me and links it to Decision Making
  • connects KASA with Teacher Education through the strategies (training and development)
  • is written by Donald Freeman, now an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan’s (UoM) School of Education, who he had also been a professor from SIT MAT program (a more complete profile can be found here)
  • helps me structure and build up my own Teacher Education Glossary, or terminology bank

As a learner, I like making lists and categorizing things, as it helps me remember the content better and encourages me to find new connections and ideas. Composing a Glossary of terms and definitions is an example of such process. Sharing it below!

Glossary (based on the article and author’s definitions and explanations)

Language Teaching: the subject matter of Teacher Education; the process of Decision Making based on four constituents: Knowledge, Attitude, Skills and Awareness, or KASA

KASA: an acronym that stands for Knowledge, Attitude, Skills and Awareness (in the order of the letters, not in the order of importance)

Knowledge: the ‘what’ of teaching

what is taught, (the subject); to whom it is taught (the learners);

where it is being taught (the context)

Attitude: a stance (reactions, emotions, feelings) towards self, activity, result, process, and others,

linking intrapersonal dynamics with external performance and behaviors

Skills: the ‘how’ of teaching

classroom techniques, practices, methods, techniques, materials/tools, etc.

Awareness: the capacity to recognize and monitor attention one is giving or has given to something;

the condition and the means of Knowing

Attention: engagement in a specific aspect of what is happening in the classroom

Teacher Education: collaboration process (between Teacher and Collaborator) to generate some form of change in the Teacher’s Decision Making and/or KASA.

Decisions to be made: options/dilemmas teachers face in the classroom and need to act/respond to

Can be of two types:

  • micro-decisions: related to where to sit or stand in class, how many small groups to have, etc.
  • macro-decisions: related to concept, methodology, classroom dynamics, etc.

Teacher (in preparation, in training)

Collaborator (educator, trainer, mentor, peer, colleague)

Teacher Education strategies of influence

Training: direct intervention by the Collaborator to work on specific aspects of the Teacher’s teaching. Clear, direct, ‘train-able’ aspects of Knowledge and Skills; isolated, fragmented, practical, can be assessed and measured

Development: indirect intervention to work on complex, integrated aspects of the Teacher’s teaching; generating change through triggering, increasing or shifting Awareness. Focuses a lot on Attitudes and Awareness parts of KASA, helping the Teacher to develop their internal monitoring system. Less predictable/directed strategy.

There are also several ideas I would like to think more about, based on the article:

What ‘Change’ means in Teacher Education, and how it can (or cannot!) be assessed and measured

Training Knowledge and Skills versus Development Awareness and/or Attitude: seems to me now that only applied together do these strategies form complete and solid Teaching KASA

The difference between Attention and Awareness: while Awareness is a binary distinction (one can be aware of something, or unaware of it), Attention to that Awareness can vary in intensity and depth (Teacher can pay little attention to using their voice in class but pay a lot more attention to grouping students, for example)

Awareness or Knowledge as a starting points of one’s learning prompts another angle to look at and explain inductive and deductive teaching and learning. While deductive method may seem to save more classroom time and therefore feels more ‘efficient’ in the moment of transmitting knowledge, it is the inductive approach that ‘sticks’ in one’s memory due to the effort put in realization/awareness and paying attention to working out the new piece of information.

How might it all be relevant to the Reflective Conversations and RP practices?

The article encourages me to think about, and formulate, the Reflective KASA for teachers and teacher educators. Below I am starting to brainstorm what each aspect of KASA might sound like, but this definitely requires more thinking clarification.

Knowledge: the ‘what’ of reflecting

concept of ELC (experiential learning cycle, stages of the reflective process, guiding questions on each part, etc.)

Attitude: openness to reflecting; desire and intention to pause, see and think

Skills: the ‘how’ of reflecting

ability to choose an important learning moment to reflect on;

ability, or habit, to be present in the moment (observe and notice details)

ability to describe what happened in detail, orally or in writing, in their own or observed teaching, etc.

Awareness: the capacity to recognize and monitor attention teacher is giving or has given to the process, the focus, the depth (etc.) of reflection.

Immediate awareness can be explored/developed in post-teaching conversations (with someone who observed the lesson the teacher taught, or just someone willing to listen). Delayed awareness can be explored/developed in-depth reflection process, often in writing.

It seems to me that explicitly defining this Reflective KASA for educators might become a crucial step towards inviting reflection into every friendly conversation between teachers (not just in the Teacher-Mentor ‘official’ relationship)

Developing positive reflective attitudes (for example, John Dewey’s wholeheartedness and directness, )  a Teacher Educator could become a genuine companion, and the relationship of this type might be a step closer to peer reflection (already a friendlier, freer and more comfortable zone than ‘official’ mentorship, for example)

Finally, based on the questions posted by the author, I would like to add more questions to my (future?) self to ponder about:

How do people learn to teach?

How do people learn to train/mentor other teachers?

How do people change in order to become more effective at what they do?

Reference:

Freeman D. (1989). Teacher Training, Development, Decision Making: a Model for Teaching and Related Strategies for Language Teacher Education. TESOL Quarterly, 23(1), 27-45

Updates:

The idea of the RP Reading Club is to read the same article and to post reflections on it – either on your own blogs, or here as a guest post. I am very excited to link to my friend and colleague’s post: Wilma Luth writes about this article on her blog and Linda-Marie started her own blog with a post on this article too!

Thank you for reading! 🙂