Pandaji's Blog

Art, research, education

Leave a comment

Profile 3. Evaluation of practice and continuing professional development, August 2010

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.


Leave a comment

Profile 2. Designing and planning learning activities, May 2010

Sharing one’s own passion and enthusiasm for the subject so that students become engaged and enthused is the most rewarding part of my job. I love doing ceramics and I am a great advertisement for the subject. 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 in their course. (Brookfield 1995)

By directing the way they experiment and perform tests and try out techniques, the students gain self-esteem and trust in my knowledge when they have instant feedback and encouragement. I have been trying this as a whole group and individually. My strengths in designing learning activities that enhance transformative learning (Mc Gonigal 2005) are that I can help student understanding of how they learn by introducing or suggesting different ways of approaching the subject.

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 show piece and I am still encouraging the tests, as I still understand that the assessment will be constructively aligned and therefore a proportion of the marks will be given for process. (Biggs 1996)

Leave a comment

Profile 1. Designing and planning learning activities, October 2009

On this course we are encouraged to pursue our own learning programme. In the same way, I have always encouraged ceramic students to design and plan their own work. Their approach can be based on a theme or a series of diverse ideas. Technique can then be taught individually, when a student’s design requires it. This method depends on having an ongoing yearly or multi-year group structure such as an evening class in a community centre. For single all-day workshops, taster sessions, or 6-10 two-hour sessions, it is necessary to plan and design a different type of programme in order for a group of students to achieve particular learning outcomes in the given time. Although I have taught ongoing programmes for many years, I have minimal theoretical and practical experience of designing and teaching these shorter programmes.

An example of a shorter workshop that I have designed and taught is casting body parts in Mod Roc. I had to think through what could be achieved by a group of ten students working alone and /or in pairs, what supplies they would need, and what resources I would need. I generally make loads of lists! I thought about the minimum learning outcome required for the slowest student and how this could be extended for students who might work faster.

My plan is quite general and is helped by a simple table:

Date Learning outcomes Teaching method ResourcesRequired Assessment

This I learnt on a brief teaching course that I took several years ago. I find that it can be helpful to have a timed practice session as this can help with planning what might be possible. The other benefit of this is that it provides a ready-made example. I also think about designing the session with a balance of teaching and demonstrating, and students’ hands on application.

On this course I hope to improve my computer skills and learn how to design and organize templates for text materials such as planning documents and handouts. This will enhance the calibre of my written teaching materials and resources.