The Why Cards

This is my second post where I think aloud about the trainer training course we are planning for experienced teachers in Ukraine. The first one focused on how ‘reflective process may seem boring‘ for some teachers (and as some chats on Twitter showed, for some trainers too!)

When we started to discuss why this could be the case, one of the reasons that came up was the ‘formal setting’ or the situation when teachers simply ‘have to do it’ as a part of a training course, or school policy. There was an opinion shared that teachers simply need to learn to ‘live through’ such experience and that it is a ‘useful’ one but not necessarily pleasant, or entertaining.

I then remembered the webinar I had attended last month by Steve Mann and Steve Walsh, the authors of ‘Reflective practice in ELT’. You can access the recording here.

One of the ideas discussed were Post-Observation Conferences (POCs) and how little reflective space they had for teachers whose lessons were observed. Some solutions were brainstormed how this space could be created. [Note to self: keep thinking about the question of thinking and learning space, in every aspect of the course. This old post is a reminder, too.]

Are you seeing what I am seeing? We started with ‘reflective process’ or ‘practice’ and moved the conversation in the direction of ‘post-lesson feedback’. I actually see a big difference between the two: if reflection is a dialogue, a thinking strategy, a learning tool, feedback is more about ‘receiving’ the information the other person is ‘offering’ you. It is almost a ‘monologue’ versus ‘interaction’. When we talk about reflective practices, we think in terms of developing them, growing the reflective skills, etc. Feedback is more about ‘giving and receiving’ and learning how to feel okay when being criticized (Yes, it is often about receiving negative feedback on one’s performance). Now I wonder if it is the feedback sessions, the POCs (not the reflective process or conversation) that teachers don’t like and have to ‘live through’ to get their certificate/annual review, etc. I wonder if the reflective practice is often something else happening somewhere else (not with the observer who saw the lesson) I wonder if the ‘boring’ part comes from the feeling that the information needs to be ‘received’ and ‘digested’ rather than discussed and internalized.

A big question: can the two be ‘merged’?

Coming back to planning the training course I started with, and the Why card that is in the title. I would like to experiment and see how using the ‘Why’ card during our training sessions could make a difference to the participants. They may find it motivating/engaging to be able to ‘pause’ a session and ask why we are doing a certain activity, or why there is this assignment in the course. There may also be a course journal where the ‘why’ part is developed and shared (to continue the conversation and formulate/verbalize the beliefs we have)

So I was playing with those cards thinking of the exact way to use them. I shared this image on Twitter.

Almost immediately  I got a reply from Svetlana:

Having checked the number of cards in the picture, I clarified what she meant, and found a link to this resource: 5 – Why-s strategy

My favorite idea there was the difference between solutions and counter-measures. Quote:

The 5 Whys uses “counter-measures,” rather than solutions. A counter-measure is an action or set of actions that seeks to prevent the problem arising again, while a solution may just seek to deal with the symptom. As such, counter-measures are more robust, and will more likely prevent the problem from recurring.

I am still thinking about ways of making the sessions more participant-centered, and letting them use the ‘Why Cards’ could be one of them. My other hope (or this could actually be the main reason) is that the course would inspire teachers = future trainers to reflect on their (teaching, training, learning, living) practice in the way that works for each individual.

You might hear more about this in the future. Thank you for reading!

About Zhenya

teacher educator, evidence-based instruction trainer, PD Coach https://wednesdayseminars.wordpress.com/
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