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The most impactful moments of this symposium had to do with my understanding of the role of the facilitator. Two specific moments around this understanding stick out. First, the understanding that the facilitator must/is heavily encouraged to let go of their ego. By ego, there is the ego that makes us the despot in a class, the ruler that has absolute control over rules and what is considered ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in the class. I know to let go of that fear of having something not be ‘right’ in our discussions. However, there is also the ego in me that wants to share all my knowledge with my students, not to say they are wrong but to share because I’m excited to share. I began to learn that this ego can also stifle discourse and inquiry. If I always hop in right away to bring up an assumption, or clarify someone's question, or immediately give an example, I am taking the fun of inquiry away from my students. As a facilitator I want to be better at letting my students explore an idea and come to a conclusion, or additional wondering, by themselves with minimal input from me.
Second, I better understand the role of a facilitator in different level communities. By different level communities I mean the loose categories of beginning, emerging, or mature communities which designate how well the community understands and enacts the concepts of intellectual safety/emotional safety and the four pillars of p4c. In a beginning community it may be necessary to “meet a community where it is at.” To me this means acknowledging that this community might have a different understanding of respect and rules that I may need to enforce in order to help my community grow. Practically, this means that if I have an emerging community it might be better for me to directly call out inappropriate behavior to let others know it is not okay, whereas an advanced community might be able to reflect on this inappropriate behavior without me needing to explicitly call out the inappropriate behavior. I must acknowledge where my community is at and identify what they may need to help them become an emerging and mature community; and as my students grow I too will change and grow as the facilitator to better match what the community might need.
I can imagine myself bringing these powerful new understandings into my own classroom practice. This of course means that I need to be very mindful of my own actions, in addition to being attentive to the needs of individual students to ensure a safe environment. Once an environment is becoming safe and the community is emerging I can then begin to relinquish more of my ego and let students come to understandings instead of me always interjecting with my own thoughts and opinions. However, as a teacher I will always be attentive to the needs of the community as things change and evolve.
After discussing the good-thinkers toolkit (GTTK) I learned about a few games to utilize in order to practice the GTTK with students. Games such as 'good idea or bad idea' where the teacher (or students) pose a scenario to students, "What if chickens were 6 feet tall?" then ask "Is that a good idea or a bad idea?" This gives students an opportunity for using the 'Reason' tool when saying if it is a good idea or a bad idea, they could also give examples to support their reason.
In addition to practicing the GTTK, games allow for students to share their opinions or thoughts in a 'safer' environment. When something is posed as a game their is less risk in giving ones own opinion since all students are engaging with the same level of risk together and it isn't perceived as 'serious'. This allows students to begin feeling more comfortable sharing their own ideas/opinions while also practicing the toolkit. This concept of safety in games is new for me, and I hope to use more game like activities to help students feel safer when sharing opinions.
Something I thought about often this class was the role of the teachers and students in a classroom. I found the concept of teacher-student and student-teacher helpful in understanding how to implement a classroom environment where students can practice forming their own questions and thoughts. A student-teacher/teacher-student recognizes that in a discussion you play the role of both student, trying to learn from and understand the experiences/thinking/perspectives of the kids in your class as they teach you about their experiences/thinking/perspectives.
Something I want to improve on is to not always try and give my students an example or 'explanation' to some of their questions so quickly. I sometimes get excited by a question a student asks and answer them right away without first letting the community discuss the question.
I want to better facilitate discussions between my students even if I think I have a great example or response to give my students.
Martin Hamilton published What would you like to share with someone who wasn't able to attend today's session? in Reflections 2021-07-07 12:20:31 -1000
I would share about the benefits of using multiple rounds of questions when establishing a community of inquiry.
First, having multiple shorter rounds of questions can help engage students in the community building process. There will be a higher amount of engagement if students only have to wait 15-20 minutes to share their thoughts on the question then 15-20 minutes to share their thoughts on the next question, opposed to having to wait 60 minutes to share their thoughts on multiple questions.
Second, having multiple rounds of questions can allow the facilitator to scaffold these questions in terms of 'depth' and 'risk'. For example, the first questions could just be general info like "What is your name, where do you live?", the second question could then be a low 'risk' question where students share something more personal, like "What do you like to do in your free time/what are your hobbies?" By having questions of variable risk you can get scaffold students ability to answer more risky questions in addition to assessing which students might be more hesitant with sharing.
I believe bringing p4c to schools and other institutions will benefit all.