Writing a reflective journal for the duration of this course has given me new perspectives on my work and myself. The infinite variety of possibilities for using ceramics, demonstrated by the imagination of the students makes a continually challenging and interesting workplace. “Reflective practice is a “sorting out/clarifying process.” (Moon, J. 2004)
Wondering about a particular problem or situation has become less haphazard and more to do with discussion and asking for feedback from students and colleagues. Doing an action research project has helped me understand how I can evaluate my own practice using the Jean Mc Niff method. I plan to continue the dialogue using my blog. (Helal, M., Helal, D. 2010) Sharing my thoughts and information with others will enable the dialogue to continue after the course has finished.
I am trying to use methods that enhance transformative learning like disorientating and failure by encouraging the students to experiment with a variety of approaches to the same subject. An outcome of this practice is that students have told me that they are making decisions based on learning from their own mistakes, demonstrated by this quote from my action research questionnaire: “Being able to try and experiment something out for myself really helped me to learn by trial and error.” And another: “It was nice to be able to learn from my own mistakes and get some really interesting results.”
Many ceramic techniques require a one-to-one style of teaching e.g. throwing, whereas glazing and doing glaze tests can be taught to a group. One of my strengths is knowing when to teach individually, and when to widen the teaching to a group. The ceramics tutor hours have been reduced to one day a week. For part of the day we discuss each student and their work, and where she expects the work to be in the following week. Occasionally we openly discuss our different approaches to the same problem. In this way we demonstrate and model our disagreements publicly to encourage critical debate amongst the students.
The technical team at Wimbledon Foundation has always promoted a sharing of skills. With the term times changing and a shorter academic year, the possibility to find a time for sharing skills will diminish, which will have a detrimental effect on the students. In the past, this skills sharing has helped me make interesting charts and learning resources for the ceramic studio. It has also helped all of us gain confidence in areas other than our own for example, glass cutting and carpentry.
Peer observation is the hardest of all the tasks we have been asked to perform, especially if one practices with colleagues that one is working with all the time. Asking for feedback from colleagues has always been my practice, but now I know that this helps me consolidate my own learning. I hope I will continue to use this method of learning once the PG Cert year is completed.
I have also learned that giving feedback to colleagues can be extremely difficult, especially if it includes constructive criticism. This is one of my weaknesses that I would like to spend more time addressing in the future.
I would very much like to find ceramic technician colleagues who would be willing to discuss teaching and learning issues after the PG Cert course has finished. I discovered the ceramic technician at Chelsea also did this course last year. I arranged a meeting and exchange visit, with full support from my line-manager.
(Community of practice Lave, J. and Wenger, E. 1991)
My continuing professional development future is uncertain, especially with the recent government cuts to further education and the announcement by the rector that the three colleges, Camberwell Chelsea and Wimbledon will have a combined Foundation Diploma course as of 2011. Nevertheless, I intend to use the skills I have learnt on the PG Cert course in all of my future teaching.