torsdag 30. april 2015

Observations in Spain

When my students and I took a five-day trip to Spain this April, we experiences quite a lot. It was a cultural journey as well as an educational journey… educational in so many ways. We learned much about each other and learned how to attune to the group full of individual differences. We also had a chance to learn a bit about Spanish primary school education through observations of teaching. The school in Palencia that we visited focused on visual arts and integration of pupils with different disabilities, and was bi-lingual (which meant that two of the subjects were thought in English). Each of the students attended three school lessons, switching between the 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 grades, switching classrooms, teachers, languages (English/Spanish) and subjects. Some of classes were thought by Spanish teacher students in training.

One could wonder what one can learn from observation of a lesson in a foreign language. Oh, there was so much to be seen and understood; and if not understood, at least there is so much to wonder about; We observed the physical space, how the pupils were sitting, how the teachers interacted with them, how they got their attention, the way the lesson was organized as well as the level of pupils’ engagement. The most interesting issue that we later discussed was classroom leadership and how it appeared different from class to class, from teacher to teacher, from subject to subject. Even though the school’s overall guidelines were the same, each lesson was dependent on the specific teacher’s teaching style I relation to the specific group of pupils. The teaching seemed to be contextual and relational, and also influenced by our presence: In one of the classes the teacher decided to teach Norwegian geography and our presence was a motivating the lively third-graders.  

Another issues my students found interesting was the question of how much informal chatting and noise a teacher can accept. Some of the students experienced the classes as chaotic and fell sorry for the teachers, while other students assumed that the noise was a part of the pupils’ engagement and an expression for meaningful learning. It is, of course, impossible to say who “was right” and who “was wrong” but wondering about it facilitated a basis for reflections about own teacher role and motivated the students to imagine which kinds of teachers they aim to become.

The images show some of the ceiling in Burgos cathedral. 

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