10 SES 03 B, Mentoring Matters
In the educational arena there is no single image of the ‘good teacher’ and there is no consensus about how to define teacher quality (Cochran-Smith 2005). Goodwin and Kosnik (2013) argue that educators in many countries are immersed in debates regarding what teachers should know and be able to do in order to perform effectively. As head of department, frequent comments expressed views that ‘teacher education programmes at the college lack space for self-expression; communication skills and experiential learning’. This triggered the idea of an experimental ‘Learning studio’ where students are exposed to workshops from the world of theatre, movies and coaching that can enhance their ‘presence’, self-awareness, interpersonal communication and the well-establıshed repertoire of pedagogical content knowledge.
This paper presents the story of the Learning studio as portrayed in students’ responses to an open-ended questionnaire. The study investigates (1) what students found significant in the workshops and more specifically, (2) the meanings students attributed to the experiences in the workshops and (3) how the workshops constituted a site for learning. The insights provide food for thought on how to enhance teacher education programmes.The Learning studio is composed of four workshops: Talking circles, Teacher as actor, Teacher as director and Education and movies.
The comparison between teachers and actors has been alluded to by a number of scholars who identified mutual conceptual and theoretical frameworks from the fields of acting and teaching, linking these practices in teacher preparation and development (Griggs, 2001; Eisner, 1968). Rose and Linney (1992) compare between the work of the teacher and the work of the actor saying that ‘both disciplines dignify previous experience, acknowledge emotions…affirm the aesthetic tradition of our work…require that we express and perform our understanding of texts. Sarason ( 1999) emphasises relational aspects. He believes that prospective teachers should have interpersonal skills usually associated with actors and other live performers. He asserts that teacher education programmes ought to consider mandating that teacher candidates have or develop such capabilities as part of their professional skills. Likewise, Cummins (1997) writes that ‘human relationships are at the heart of education, and this is supported a decade later by Grossman et al. (2007) who state that relationships play a key role in teaching.
Based on Stanislavski’s ‘System’ of actor training (Stanislavski 1972), which required the actor to possess a rich source of imagination, Griggs (2001) suggests that theatre and other visual arts provide modes of expression that teachers can use to enhance interaction and relationships. He provides the example of improvisation where putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes, we understand the Other through the Self and the Self through the Other’. It is both the teacher’s and the actors’ job to be able to put themselves in the shoes of different characters or students. This is supported by a more recent study suggesting that because of the performance aspect of teaching, teachers can improve their abilities using tools of the actor. Thus teaching is practically acting where the faculty and students are on a stage and the scene is the classroom (Barney and Pilmer 2012).
McCrary (2000) suggests that art and artists can offer us a model of aesthetic sensibility- an ability to see- from which teachers, teacher educators, and researchers might learn. Such a sensibility demands a high level of consciousness about what one sees. Rodgers and Raider-Roth (2006) term such sensibility as ‘presence’. They define ‘presence‘ as a state of alert awareness, receptivity and connectedness to the mental, emotional and physical working of both the individual and the group in the context of their learning environments and the ability to respond with a considered and compassionate next step.
Arnon, S., and Richel, N. 2007. Who is the ideal teacher? Am I? Similarity and difference in perception of students of education regarding the qualities of a good teacher and of their own qualities as teachers. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice 13, no.5: 441-464. Barney, D., and Plimer, D. 2012. What teachers can learn from actors. Journal of Multidisciplinary Research 4, No. 1: 79-89. Bogdan, R. C., and Biklen, S. K. 2003. Qualitative research in education. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon. Brindley, S. 2013. Teacher education futures: compliance, critique or compromise? A UK perspective. Teacher Development 17, no. 3: 393-408. Cochran-Smith, M. 2005. The new teacher education: For better or for worse? Educational Researcher 34, no. 7: 3-17. Cummins, j. 1986. Empowering minority students: A framework for intervention. Harvard Educational Review 56, no. 3:18-36. Goodwin, A.L., and Kosnik C., 2013. Quality teacher educators+quality teacher? Conceptualizing essential domains of knowledge for those who teach teachers. Griggs, T. 2001. Teaching as acting: considering actin as epistemology and its use in teaching and teacher preparation. Teacher Education Quarterly Spring, 23-36. Grossman, P., Compton, C., Shahan, E., Ronfeldt, M., Igra D., & Shaing, J. (2007). Preparing practitioners to respond to resistance: a cross-professional view. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice 13, no. 2: 109-123. Edwards, A., and Protheroe, L. 2003. Learning to see in classrooms: what are student teachers learning about teaching and learning while leaning to teach in schools? British Educational Research Journal 29, no. 2: 227-242. Eisner, E. 1968. Qualitative intelligence and the act of teaching. In: R.T. Hyman (Ed.), Teaching: Vantage points of study. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott. Kagan, D. M., 1992. Professional growth among pre-service and beginning teachers. Review of Educational Research 62, no.2: 129-169. Kevernbekk, T. 2000. Seeing in practice: a conceptual analysis. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research 44, no.4: 357-370. Rodgers, C. R., and Raider-Roth M. B. 2006. Presence in teaching. Teachers and Teaching : Theory and Practice 12, no.3: 265-287. Rose , K. and Linney, M. 1992. Teaching and acting. Liberal Education, 78, no.3: 24. Ryle, G. 1980. The concept of Mind. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. Sarason, S. B. 1999. Teaching a performing art. New York: Teachers College Press. Shulman, L. S. 1987. Knowledge and teaching: foundations of the new reform. Harvard Educational Review 57, no. 1: 1-22.
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