Sharing my own passion and enthusiasm for ceramics so that students get enthused is the most rewarding part of my job; I love doing ceramics and I am a great advertisement for the subject.
The characteristics that demonstrate this passion are:
My extensive experience of teaching and ceramics gained from attending many courses across the globe, my ability to create a positive rapport with a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds, my clarity of speech and ability to explain ceramic process, my caring nature, humour and interest in people. This empathy is expressed by Egan as the, “ability to communicate to another that one can understand their feelings.” (Egan 1983)
Getting to know the students on a personal level and vice versa has meant that the mutual trust that has been built up amongst the students and myself has helped a great deal in their ability to approach me for feedback at this final stage of their course. A phenomenon that has been described by Brookfield (1995) alludes to the importance of the trust between tutor and student. The students, who previously did not ask for my opinion or help, now seek out my advice, not only about their ceramic work but also about their future. “Student cannot be expected to get on the inside of a discipline…unless the student has a firm sense of self.” (Barnett 2007)
By directing the way they experiment, perform tests, and try out techniques, the students gain self-esteem and trust in my knowledge, especially when they have instant feedback and encouragement. I have been trying this with a whole group and individually. Bryan and Clegg summarised this approach under five headings, one of which is:
Quantity and timing of feedback: “Sufficient feedback needs to be provided, both often enough and sufficiently quickly to be useful to students. …Helping students to understand and recognise quality.” (Bryan, C. and Clegg, K. 2006)
“Ultimately the fastest and most frequent feedback available is that provided by students to themselves from moment to moment as they study or write assignments in ‘learning conversations’,” (Gibbs. G and Simpson, C. 2004)
My plan for the future is to ask students if they understand the process of self-assessment.
My strengths in designing learning activities that enhance transformative learning are that I can help student understanding of how they learn by introducing or suggesting different ways of approaching the subject. I agree with Mc Gonigal. K. (1995) who describes some of the teaching strategies for transformative learning as a balance between support and challenge. Transformative learning theory (Mezirow, J. 1997) addresses this teaching strategy. The theory describes the conditions and processes necessary for students to make the most significant kind of knowledge transformation: paradigm shift, also know as perspective transformation. Mezirow, J. (1991, p. 167) describes perspective transformation as “…the process of becoming critically aware of how and why our assumptions have come to constrain the way we perceive, understand and feel about the world; changing these structures of habitual expectation to make possible an inclusive, discriminating and integrating perspective and finally making choices or otherwise acting upon these new understandings.” Or alternatively what Mike Wesch (2008) has called “anti-teaching,” in which the focus is not on providing answers to be memorized, but on “creating a learning environment more conducive to producing the types of questions that ask students to challenge their taken-for-granted assumptions and see their own underlying biases.”
In accordance with Dall ‘Alba (2005), I can now assess myself at the end of a workshop, and evaluate whether the planned learning outcomes have been achieved. By keeping a reflective journal, I can evaluate how to use this information to improve and enhance my own practice. A recent example of this, was observing the different approach that the tutor and I take when the students have very little time to produce the final exhibition work and I am still encouraging the tests, because I understand that the assessment will be constructively aligned and therefore a proportion of the marks will be given for process. (Biggs 1996)