#KELTchat: Making sense of experiences (June 9 2015, 11am KST)

Announcing the next KELTchat slowburn on Tuesday 9th June 2015, 11am–7pm (KST). Check your local time here.

Topic: “Making sense of experiences”

Our jobs as English language teachers/professionals inevitably mean we encounter several experiences on a day-to-day basis. In fact, it could probably be argued that any professional’s life is made up of experiences. Some of our experiences in (or outside of) the classroom are positive, while others perhaps less so. But what do we do with these experiences, and how can we use them to better our teaching?

In the words of John Dewey:

We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.

In our next #KELTchat on Tuesday 9th June, our point of departure will be reflective practice, and how we can use it to develop professionally. There is no single ‘right way’ to engage in reflective practice, however, there are frameworks and suggestions to assist us. One such framework is the Experiential Learning Cycle, or ELC*. Familiarity with the ELC is not essential to join in with Tuesday’s KELTchat, but should you so wish to learn more about it, I highly suggest checking out Zhenya Polosatova’s blog post on the topic.

One part of the ELC is what is often called the analysis stage (although as you will see from Zhenya’s post, it does have alternative names). It is during this stage of the cycle that we try to make sense of our experiences. And it is this stage that has provided the inspiration for this KELTchat: How do you make sense of your experiences inside and outside of the classroom?

Questions that can be covered during the chat

  • What do you do after a negative experience in class?
  • Do you prefer to reflect on something that happens in class alone, or with a colleague?
  • Who do you usually talk to?
  • Do you like to think about experiences in class immediately or take some time before doing so?
  • Do you feel that talking to someone about what has happened helps you to make sense of an experience?
  • What do you consider “talking productively about teaching?”**
  • How productive/helpful/cathartic do you find “bitching” about teaching/your experiences?**
  • Does your place of work provide you with the support to reflect on your experiences?

*It is my view, as well as the view of others who use it, that to use the ELC effectively, one needs to complete the cycle from start to finish. However, I’d like to make it clear that this chat is not about using the ELC, but rather about how we think about our experiences. What we do can of course be incorporated into the ELC by reflective practitioners already using the cycle or those who would like to try it out.

**Questions copied/adapted from this post about ‘Talking about teaching’ by Mike Griffin.

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