In this module students have to implement the theory they have been learning and are required to facilitate philosophical dialogue with their peers prior to working with children. Prior to their facilitation students are given one-to-one input and support. As each student will have different strengths and weaknesses in relation to their practice, during this time they can discuss their own particular developmental needs. Each student has to choose a stimulus to prompt the dialogue and the one-to-one tutor support allows them to articulate the philosophy within their chosen stimulus. This allows the tutor to assess this component of the student’s practice and this is most easily done in conversation with the student. Specific, tailored advice that is more immediate and likely to impact on the facilitation is provided at this time. Immediately following the dialogue it is essential that the student is able to reflect on the dialogue; this is done with the support of the tutor. This is especially helpful as the facilitation can be somewhat overwhelming, and remembering content and facilitative moves can be challenging for novice facilitators. It is also important that the tutor identifies elements of good practice for the students as they may struggle to focus on positive elements of their facilitation straight after their dialogue. It is also helpful to speak through the student’s areas for development as closely to the sessions as possible as this will form the focus of the next assessed facilitation. The process is repeated for the second facilitation, though focuses on the development needs identified during the first post-facilitation discussion between the tutor and the student. Following the meeting, the tutor writes very detailed notes about the facilitation and the pre and post-facilitation meetings. These are e-mailed to the student within a couple of days of their facilitation. After the two assessed facilitations, students also receive detailed feedback that reiterates key points from the previous feedback and supplements this with further comment on the student’s written submission that forms the final part of the assessment for this module.
Students are able to focus their facilitation and will have been able to check areas where they are anxious immediately prior to their facilitation. The meeting immediately after their facilitation will better enable the students to write up their reflective accounts of the dialogues and their facilitations. The meetings also support the tutor in her assessment of the student’s practice and in the writing up of the detailed feedback notes.
Managing the tutor’s workload is a challenge as there is extensive feedback to be written-up after each session and there can be two or three students per three hour session. It is important that the students receive their feedback as soon as possible. Also, because the classes run in the evening, the post-facilitation sessions can run on quite late, sometimes until 9pm or later.
Although the written feedback is hugely onerous for the tutor, it is clear that the students value the feedback they receive, in written form and in the one-o-one meetings. This impacts positively on the students’ facilitation practice.
It depends on the class size; at most, to date, seventeen students have been involved in one class. Sometimes there have been three students facilitating in one three hour session, though the pre-facilitation sessions have to happen before this, so it is longer for the tutor concerned. It is possible to scale-up but the number of tutors would also need to be scaled-up. It is certainly time consuming for the tutor.
I am sure that other courses use one-to-one feedback, but most likely after the observed event. Initial Teacher Education students have sessions with their tutors following observations on school placements and that there are occasions for one-to-one discussions as appropriate under those circumstances. The model described here only really applies to practical assessments