Or to be more accurate, one lesson delivered to two groups.
From the outset, this lesson felt mindfully planned and well "shaped". I was confident of its success with this particular group of students - first semester dual study, German business students. I had taken into consideration their stated course goals at the start of the semester and anticipated a positive response to the plan I had come up with. The reality was even more than I could have hoped for.
The more I work within a Thinking Environment, the more I appreciate the freedom it offers - not just for my students, but for me too.
The more I apply any of the 10 components in class, the happier I feel.
As is the way of the world of teaching, the same lesson plan turns out quite differently when used with the next group of students. After the first trial of my newly designed introduction to a Thinking Environment lesson, the second group reacted in similar and different ways.
Today I am going to attempt to replicate the success of a class last week. It will be very telling if the lesson I have planned works as well as with the first group. What did I do? I introduced the Thinking Environment components to the students and held the lesson in a Thinking Environment.
Am I listening to ignite or to reply?
Is my attention palpably generative?
Am I giving the thinker the luxury of uninterrupted time to think a thought all the way through to their self-determined end? Do I show profound interest and curiosity in what the thinker will think next? Without commenting? Without judging?
The first week of January saw me in Sheffield for one of the Time to Think courses: The Thinking Environment Foundation Course with Sophie Stephenson. The two days spent reviewing, deepening and furthering my understanding of the Thinking Environment confirmed how much we teachers can benefit from adopting some - if not all - of the 10 components in our daily practice.
As you know, I have worked at Bristol University's Center for English Language and Foundation Studies the last two summers. After this year's exceptional experience, a group of tutors put their energies into building a network of fellow pre-sessional tutors. One outcome is the newly launched tutors network website where guest writers have blogged about their pre-sessional EAP activities, experiences and development.
Thinking about how to deal with the expectation that a coach and/or teacher is supposed to speak throughout a session, I came across a video with Nancy Kline addressing this very question. When we are hired to coach or teach, it is usually because we are seen as the expert with knowledge and information for the coachee or student. The belief that the "Learner" has their own idea or solution or knowledge can sometimes be lacking.
Here's a thing, the more you explore an idea, the more you come across other ideas in a similar vein. It is very rare to see a completely new concept; so many ideas overlap with other thoughts, beliefs and philosophies. Which is just what I see with a Thinking Environment and Mindfulness.
In the coming blog posts, I want to capture examples of where such overlaps occur. Here's the first one which initially gave me the idea, an article from MindShift / KQED News website: "Slowing Down to Learn: Mindful Pauses That Can Help Student Engagement."
Last summer, I returned to Bristol University to teach on the pre-sessional 6 week course with CELFS (Center for English Language & Foundation Studies).
In week two, I had my lesson observation with CELFS deputy director, Maxine. She picked up on something I do in most of my classes - nothing!
We talked about this "technique" of staying silent during the post-observation meeting and she subsequently asked me to share what I "don't do" with colleagues at one of our weekly CPD sessions. Reaction to the ideas I presented was so positive, I felt spurred on to continue talking about teacher silence with a wider audience.