Experiences: a window to deeper understandings of classroom events

Hi everyone!

Have you ever wondered about classroom experiences? About how can they bring an expanded understanding of the teaching and learning process?

Starting today, I`ll be contributing with posts on classroom language learning experiences because they can provide a lot of information about what goes on between teachers and students as well as a holistic perspective of the process of teaching, learning and evaluating – the three most common reasons for bringing people to a language class. Every month, I’ll post excerpts of students’ or teachers’ narratives. Selections will highlight recurrent experiences. These will be discussed to broaden comprehension of their significance.

Hopefully, you will find similarities among the experiences posted and your own and, through our discussions, find support to deal with classrooms events.

Before our first narrative, let me introduce the nature of classroom experiences, as depicted in the picture below, since the following posts are framed by this view of classroom events. Click on the image for a better view of its elements.

Framework of Classroom Experiences

This picture expands Allwright’s (1991) original representation for understanding the classroom context. In accordance to our research results (Miccoli 2010) it illustrates that classroom events can be described from the surface lesson (what one sees) – usually learning opportunities and tasks or from the deep lesson – what teachers and students tell about their behaviors in oral or written narratives. In-class pedagogical or cognitive, social and affective experiences are influenced by teachers’ and students’ out-of-class personal, conceptual, contextual and future experiences. You will gain better understanding of these categories with the forthcoming posts. Now, our first narrative:

Have you ever wondered about students’ recurrent behaviors? They may reveal much more than just personal preferences or habits…

Fernanda, a university student, frequently referred to interaction and interpersonal relationships. She had trouble interacting with others. In the excerpt below, she describes how she relates to classmates:

 “Uhrn.,. I observe that I’m NOT too close to my classmates … l have my circle of friends”.

In interacting with her teacher, she revealed a recurrent behavior.

“I always say ‘teacher” because I know I’m going to make mistakes. She can correct me. I also don`t care if others are listening or not. … I talk to her because … I believe every student addresses the teacher. Maybe it’s a wrong thing, not caring about what others are going to say or if they are listening or not …”

Fernanda seems to move from not being close to her classmates to wondering if her attitude – not caring about what they have to say and keeping to herself is the right thing to do. By reflecting on her behavior, she becomes aware of a potential problem. We also learn that when she calls “teacher” she wants more than attention – she expects to be corrected.

How do you deal with students who keep to themselves? How do you make them interact? Learning depends on it, you know.

Which experiences intrigue you? Share them with me.

More to come next month,

All the best,

Laura Miccoli

Laura Miccoli is a professor at the Federal University of Minas Gerais and a researcher, consultant, and founder of Transforma Educacional – a social business to develop teachers professionally. She has authored “Ensino e Aprendizagem de Inglês: experiências, desafios e possibilidades” and “Aproximando Teoria e Prática para Professores de Línguas Estrangeiras”.

2 Comments
  • laura
    Posted at 13:54h, 28 fevereiro Responder

    Hi, Laura, it is so good to see you here. From my experience (with teenagers) the more they feel comfortable about sharing their world in class the more they are engaged. Their world of games, music, movies , etc most of the time is unknown to me. I usually get their attention by giving them space to share their prefrences.

    • laura miccoli
      laura miccoli
      Posted at 22:58h, 28 fevereiro Responder

      Good to find your comment here too. Thank you!

      I agree with you that creating a space for sharing and listening to students’ likes, experiences and interests is fundamental for the development of more learning opportunities.

      In addition, as a recent doctoral thesis research has demonstrated (Arruda 2014) students’ out of the classroom experiences in using the target language can afford more opportunities for linguistic development. Dedicating time to listening to students’ out of the classroom use of the language can actually encourage them to increase their interaction with the language with impact on their learning and, as a bonus, maintaning or increasing their levels of motivation.

      Do you remember any specific experience of a student who shared an interest in class with impact on other students?

      Again, thanks for your comment,

      all the best,

      laura

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