“Skipping generalisations stage means being ‘locked’ in what we already did and might do again, and never seeing a ‘bigger picture’, or the reason for acting this or that way.” Zhenya Polosatova in her RP5 post on John Pfordresher’s blog.
Whenever I see the abbreviation we use to label the Reflective Practice Challenge (RP1, RP2, etc. or anything related to it, such as #RPPLN), it somehow reminds me of the Star Wars sci-fi series. I think it’s because my favourite characters C3PO and R2D2 immediately spring to mind. So for me this RP Challenge, on a very subconscious level, always points to the future, even though I first have to go through several stages to be finally able to look ahead, a few steps forward.
So far I’ve taken the following steps:
1) I came up with my RP mission statement.
2) I remembered a negative interaction I’d experienced in the classroom.
3) I described it in full detail.
4) I analysed this single interaction (see this post).
Now I’m going to generalise the results of my analysis.
As Zhenya suggests, for the Generalisations stage, there will be focus more on our learning, or conclusions from that experience, or beliefs we could notice or discover based on the preceding stages of the Cycle (description + analysis). Here are some questions Zhenya proposed that may help me see that learning (or generalisations).
What did you learn about yourself (as a human-being, as a teacher, as a learner, etc.)?
I learnt that we all have plans and expectations – teachers and students. When our expectations clash, problems occur. I’d say that the ideal situation is when our expectations are identical with the students’ needs. But let’s be honest; this is just a beautiful dream. On a more pragmatic note, we need to be realistic about our expectations and always be prepared that our plans may fall through.
What did you learn about others?
The others don’t know what I want unless I tell them. So I think it’s a good idea to reveal what I expect, explicitly, on the spot, to avoid misunderstanding. And vice versa, I can’t be sure what the others want unless I ask them. Students are often in a position when they don’t feel it’s appropriate to say what their needs are. Thus it’s good to create an atmosphere of honesty and acceptance. But once I allow my students to be completely honest with me as the teacher, I have to be prepared to face their honesty without feeling offended if the truth hurts.
What did you learn about communications?
This question is related to the previous one. The fact that we often, for various reasons, hide our feelings and some aspects of the truth from others, hinders our mutual communication. In other words, what I think you think may not be what you really think.
What did you learn about class atmosphere?
I can spoil a pleasant or neutral classroom atmosphere by just allowing misunderstanding to happen. By wrong interpretation of a student’s expectations, I invite all sorts of negative emotions into our classroom. This, in consequence, hinders the learning process and finally spoils our relationship, not just with the student in question but with the whole class.
What did you learn about … [my role as a teacher]?
I’m not there primarily to make my dreams come true = to realise my lesson plans meticulously (in a way I am, of course but…). Most of all I’m there to foster learning. Learning can only happen if there is a minimum of obstacles (physical or emotional). By feeling the way I did during the incident I may have hindered the students’ learning. At least I distracted their attention in order to heal my wounded ego. I may have not but this is quite difficult to prove now, so next time I’d better avoid this.
This is my take on this part of the cycle. I’m looking forward to reading yours because that’s the best part of the challenge – the sharing.