Personal Development Journal

Adrian Worsfold
Across the course
Classes, lessons taught and observed, writing assignments and reading, and reflecting


Underpinning knowledge.
Reviewing learning development. Evaluating resulting development.

There are two things I now focus on in my lessons which I did not do before, or very well. The first is to find out the "entry level" to a lesson, and I try to do this beforehand if I can, and anyway check at the start of the lesson. Before, if this was not an obvious matter, I often did not do this. Secondly I have started to make a conscious effort to summarise, not just a reminder of what was done but some evaluation of the work done. This happened in the art class I taught, for example. I also remain quite happy to ditch part of a lesson plan if there is a good reason to do this, either due to need for previous reinforcement or because something good is happening which would be adversely affected by maintaining the plan. I have given more attention to action planning, but it still remains something more in my head rather than on paper. It is one reason why I have never installed a Personal Information Manager on my computer at home. I have a Diary program which could be a PIM, and it contains what I did not what I will do.

I knew I could teach, and I have done it. I have not always done it well. My experience with IT as a teacher has not been wholly successful in the past. I have a very ambiguous attitude to IT teaching. I know that when the IT is difficult, the lesson deteriorates and there is a fight on to maintain the timing or standard of the lesson. I saw this during the course with other technology. It happened before to me with Desk Top Publishing in previous teaching. I prefer thinking courses. I have rediscovered, however, and had reinforced, through my assignments and their marking, just how much of my teaching is orientated to higher education rather than further and adult education. One way I am countering this is by giving more attention to the behaviourist teaching method we are being taught - this is because it does have the benefit of clarity, in that it forces particular focus on the few things that need to be done and what is needed to be seen at the end of the lesson. It then leads me to produce appropriate materials, although I still prefer to do something "extra" for those who want to think further into the subject.

I have unashamedly used doing this course to enhance my own web authoring skills using XHTML. I have coupled putting my material online with controlling the printed layout, using a new print preview facility to imitate what a word processor could have produced. It has all been hand coded around the text. And then I find this could be useful for teaching practice: the only prospect of teaching enough hours with a core group for a possible Stage 2 is in demystifying what web companies do and teaching people to make their own websites and upload them. I could produce a syllabus, which would be an enormous task in a very short time.

At the start of the course I paid 67 for the standard books and one or two more. I have read them in the usual way: ad hoc and back to front. Some of these are method books, though I find their "big print" approach frustrating at times, hopping over sections but going back to them to add relevant quotations into essays. Others also served as reminders of theoretical issues which was the added value element to the course, which I then brought into my assignments, making them way above requirements. I knew they were more than required but thought I should express myself regardless. I cannot train for anything without added thought. In general the books themselves reopen the wider issues of what is education. The core texts relate these to "the method" either explicitly or implicitly, and they do not always work or convince, but one can see the need to somehow measure what is going on in the classroom. And I accept that the ability to measure in some way is also the ability for the teacher to be helpful to the student as the student wants to know how he or she is achieving in material terms.

I have also seen parallels between preaching and teaching, knowing that preaching is an awful form of teaching, and that I am as guilty as the rest in this. About ten per cent of a sermon is useful. And then I see myself within the terrible teaching that I did, able to play deadpan the role of walking up to a board and mumbling at it while writing away at an impossible level for anyone else who happened to be in the room. I have been in a university situation where students were an inconvenient interruption to lecturers' research activities. I have seen so often the blissful condition where a lecturer entertains himself or herself at the blackboard or speaks in technical terms and no one can follow it at all well. So I have learnt the need to check that I am actually communicating because the blissful useless condition is indeed my alter ego.

I have done a PGCE course and cannot remember as much work or attention to the method as now in what might be regarded as a "lower level" course. I seem to remember in the PGCE attending a lot of lectures and doing a few party pieces that were role plays, and then going on to given teaching practices where the "real" learning was done, and where in school I found myself all at sea, and at college did more or less as I had done previously anyway. So this has been more useful and focussed. I know that I do approach my lessons more critically regarding standards of my own performance with methods at hand to improve with.

It may be that I cannot get the required teaching practice and have to stop, and perhaps may take up the second part with an employer later on who is providing the teaching. Because, unless I get the teaching, the course will only be indirectly applied anyway, and if I do get the teaching, this is when I can progress further by making it my training.

Self-contribution and additional personal reflection.
For example, group involvment.

Other people in the group have shown the wide range of activities than are or can become teaching. This is a wider range of people than I have encountered in education than before, and has served to remind me about the nature of education especially in the FE sector. In previous PGCE training, the NVQ was something done elsewhere, which people in Business Studies (as I was) considered because it touched upon our area, and was a comparative and contrasting form of education or, rather, training. I suspect that my reaction against "behaviourism" in this course is precisely because FE education is so skills and NVQ "driving test" orientated or influenced. This is not to say there has not been an equal focus on cognitive areas within this 730 course, but the balance and influence is different from my past, even a PGCE with an FE contingent but where schools have historically been related to academic success and, ultimately, A level passes on the way to university.

I have tried to enter my previous experience into the group, with argument as well as simply contributions. The learning is indeed group as well as individual based, and so I have made several contributions. I have also reflected upon my own performance by looking at others, especially in the microteaching others carried out. I have also found myself keeping quiet, content to take a back seat. I have found myself getting quite enthused, like with the "terrible teaching" in terms of just how awful and convincing I could be, and utterly frustrated, as within the others' microteaching. I am left with the desire to continue and complete the job, but being unable to complete is nothing new. I have a string of incomplete and failed courses behind me as well as successes. I live with uncertainty and change. Que sera sera!


Adrian Worsfold