Tag Archives: Community of practice

Frustration with Fitness

As many of my friends know, I love fitness. I did an aerobics class that left me talking to myself. The instructor is extremely fit and loves fitness but …. The class was so chaotic that I felt like I had been on the spin cycle of a washing machine – running this and that way, twirling every which way. What is so frustrating is that the instructor has been given so much feedback on her class — stop all of dashing about because no one can follow you. But she has not heeded any of the advice. This experience with the aerobics class is so much like teaching. Even if you know your subject well, you have to set up the class so that the students can follow your direction and then actually apply what they are learning.  Being attentive to learners to ensure that they thrive should be uppermost in the teacher’s approach. Whether it is a fitness class or a grade one reading class or a high school physics class or a literacy methods course in teacher education, students should not leave the session frustrated. Aerobics is hard. Learning is hard. Teachers need to focus on the students whatever the context. And my aerobics instructor should be mindful of the participants. We got up early on a weekend to do a workout (and in Toronto it was mighty cold this morning) so we were all keen to do a workout. What more could a teacher want? This might be something for policy-makers to consider. Engaging the learner should be the first priority! Teacher knowledge of content is important but there is so much more to teaching. Clare

Research Team Celebration

Our research team had a holiday celebration last night.  OurIMG_1923 team for the study of literacy/English teacher educators works so well. Building a research team is much more than organizing meetings; a research team has to be more like a community of practice where the personal and the professional overlap. Our team meetings include:  updates on personal issues (e.g., health of an ill parent), an agenda of work to be done in the given time, space to talk about professional issues (e.g., should I submit a proposal for a specific conference), and snack. Each meeting is punctuated with laughter (as we battle with NVivo) but we always accomplish “something.” I doubt that anyone ever leaves a meeting thinking that we did not get anything done or that their time was wasted. It takes time for a team to develop a rhythm and to develop a set of group norms. No one told me about how to develop a research team when I was a new professor.  Discussing how to build a research team should be part induction programs for new faculty. Clare