So today was another lesson that I took by myself with just another teacher in the room who is simply there to support if I need it.
I have started to get to know the class much more now so find it easier to talk to them and understand how the class works however the quietness of the class is still an issue I need to deal with when it comes to questioning. So far open and closed questions have worked well with this class however getting them to speak out on their own feelings is where I am struggling.
This lesson was a struggle to have open discussions though as the topic was personal with ‘memories’ being the focus so getting the students to discuss in a group was a little awkward and due to the questions being open and personal I felt that I could not question a particular student like I would if I was asking a more factual question. I hope that through continuing a method of asking personal opinions, especially through group critical analysis of their own work and other artists/designers work the students will open up and feel that they can answer and not feel that there is a ‘wrong’ answer as I feel that this is a big issue with students. Also reading up more on methods of directing a discussion would help, I have done a little reading, just from Geoff Petty’s book (I own it and so far have found it easier to read however I am aware that I need to read more around the subject) but know it is something that takes practice to develop. Discussing on a smaller group basis (myself and three students maximum) and one-to-ones however is another matter, the students are happier to open up and talk about almost anything so it could be a larger group dynamic issue.
I do feel that the classroom layout was also not the best to encourage group discussion, this class is in a MAC room and typically for the use of contextual research so students are in rows, sat behind computers facing forward. This however was the student’s first lesson on their new subject so they needed to work on mind-maps first. Ideally I would have had the students in a different room but I wasn’t aware this was an option until I felt it was too late to inform the students of the change.
With this class I wanted to make sure I started the class with a reminder on phone policy, I made sure to have the class focus on me before I started and I feel that the reminder went well and that they all listened but only time will tell.
One thing that cropped up was the lateness of two students in particular, this was the second week running they were late, with no real excuse (it is a 9am lesson so it is understandable for the odd lateness) so after discussing with the regular tutor it would not be unreasonable to talk to the pair and set punctuality targets with them.
I also feel that sometimes when I address the group, for example in this class when explaining the next steps in what they were doing, many do continue to work so it is hard to judge who is paying attention however with these classes being practical I also don’t want to disturb the students as these next steps are for the students have finished the first step but that this could just be my own inexperience, so far I have not needed to repeat myself after these addresses but I might find that this is the case and that it might be a case of judging when it is appropriate to stop the class to have 100% attention.
So far this is only my third full lesson so there will always be things to learn, but the important thing will be to take heed of what I am learning and apply it figuring what works and what does not.