Archive | May 2014

We’re selling a product sometimes they don’t want to buy

Oftentimes the leaders have students who attend classes who just want the answer. They don’t want to think; they don’t want to try; they don’t want to learn. They just want the answer.

How the leader deals with that is a huge skill – how to hear the frustration, hear the desire to get the answer, but also approach the student in a way that persuades and encourages them to see the deeper learning possibilities, not just the shallow memorisation.

One of my leaders reflected on this this week:

Q: Students lead in U:PASS for a wide variety of reasons – to mentor, to gain leadership skills, to improve communication skills, to get educational experience, to see what it’s like working for UTS. What’s something you feel you have gained in one (or more) of these areas over the last fortnight? Why? (You may also choose another area if you wish!) 🙂
A: I think communication skills were important this week, particularly as I had to let the frustrated student know how I could not merely give her the perfect answer. Rather, the purpose was upass was to work collaboratively, and provide a space for “thinking” and developing understanding with fellow peers. Explaining the purpose of upass in a way that would not discourage her attendance, but rather encourage her was important (hopefully this was effective!)

So we shall see if this student comes back or not. But either which way, I think the leader is exactly on track and has done a great job.

The learning never stops

Q: Students lead in U:PASS for a wide variety of reasons – to mentor, to gain leadership skills, to improve communication skills, to get educational experience, to see what it’s like working for UTS. What’s something you feel you have gained in one (or more) of these areas over the last fortnight? Why? (You may also choose another area if you wish!) 🙂
A: For this week, I realise that academic support is hard. Everyweek, I have some new challenges – a new student, different level of understanding, a difficult topic and so on.
After few weeks from the begining of the semester, I thought I know how to facilitate U:PASS session very well.
However, it surprises me that every session gives me a new experience, lessons. Learning new things never stops!

You are becoming an educator – well done

A: As I said in my last report before the Easter break I wanted to try out some new activities in my classes, and so I did. Last week I had three groups in each session write their own physics question, solve it on the back of the page and hand it to the next group for them to solve it. It didn’t work out as well as I had hoped, because most students struggled with focusing on the task of solving the problem, and got stuck with writing a really nice sounding question with fancy things that won’t effectively improve the question. However both days, all three groups managed to write a question and solve at least one question from another group.
This week I decided I will try another activity, especially because we have reached a topic that is a lot more understand based than calculation based as it was before. I prepared 12 questions, the class was split into 4 groups, which each had to answer 3 question that I picked for them. They had half an hour to answer the questions and prepare a poster. In the last twenty minutes each group was given 5 minutes to present their solutions. This time my activity worked really well, students were focused and had great results. Most students told me that they enjoyed this kind of session when I asked at the end of class, although one of the groups seemed not to enjoy it.

A little bit of empathy can only be a good thing

From a leader this fortnight:

Q: Students lead in U:PASS for a wide variety of reasons – to mentor, to gain leadership skills, to improve communication skills, to get educational experience, to see what it’s like working for UTS. What’s something you feel you have gained in one (or more) of these areas over the last fortnight? Why? (You may also choose another area if you wish!) 🙂
A: UPASS is definitely giving me empathy for the teaching staff at UTS. Even with a limited responsibility to the students (outside of turning up and running a good session) the students still require a great deal of help with their studies. In seeing some of the questions i am asked from students i can only imagine the amount of questions a subject coordinator would receive a week.

It’s an unsettling feeling

It’s an unsettling feeling to be paid to sit back, but that’s exactly what we’re trying to promote, as this Physics leader reflects:

Q: What went well in your sessions this fortnight and why?
A: Everybody in my group is friends now. They talk amongst themselves and mostly ignore me, which is good haha. They said they liked group activities, and I can see they are all improving greatly.

Q: Students lead in U:PASS for a wide variety of reasons – to mentor, to gain leadership skills, to improve communication skills, to get educational experience, to see what it’s like working for UTS. What’s something you feel you have gained in one (or more) of these areas over the last fortnight? Why? (You may also choose another area if you wish!) 🙂
A: Now that I have overcome the hurdle of getting them to talk amongst one another, I am adjusting to just sitting back and only chiming in occasionally or when I am needed. I rather like it though, not always feeling the need to make conversation.