Most teachers have probably at some point had lessons where situations have arisen that have meant that their teaching, no matter how carefully it has been planned, has not turned out at all as they had imagined. Perhaps it has been difficult to capture the students’ interest, perhaps something has come up that the students would rather talk about. Occasions like these are examples of when teachers use a pedagogical sense of tact. In the book Pedagogical pace describes how pedagogical sense of tact can be related in different ways to both relational and didactic dimensions of the teaching assignment.
– Among other things, it can be about being open in the moment to dare to change one’s planning and give room for the students’ input, says pedagogy professor Anna Ehrlin, who together with Linda Jonsson has been the editor of the book.
For Anna Ehrlin, working with her pedagogical pace means having a curious approach to students and being able to be responsive and flexible in teaching. Birgitta Altun, teacher and one of the book’s eight authors, agrees:
– It’s about not wearing blinders and just driving on when teaching. If you are open, it is easier to discover when opportunities arise, she says.
“Had the interest of the whole class”
Birgitta Altun tells about just such an occasion during one of her physics lessons. Since she did not feel as confident in the physics subject as in her other subjects, she had been extra careful in preparing the lesson. When she entered the classroom, one of the students immediately asked what the periodic table meant.
– I answered the student “do you really want to know?” And yes, he wanted to, and it turned out that many in the class wanted to. So then the lesson had to be transformed into a chemistry lesson and deal with the periodic table. I had the interest of the whole class. It was an opportunity I just couldn’t miss, she says.
In situations where, for various reasons, it is not possible to change the lesson plan, or when you may not know the answer to the student’s spontaneous question, Birgitta Altun advises to still pay attention to the student’s question and that the class can talk more about it during an upcoming lesson.
Work on the relationship
Something that both Anna Ehrlin and Birgitta Altun highlight as important for developing their pedagogical sense of tact is spending time getting to know their students.
– It is important to learn the students’ strengths and difficulties and how they function as a group in order to find balance in a student group. It could be to slow down the students who take up a lot of space and highlight those who don’t take up much space, says Anna Ehrlin.
One aspect she feels is important in the teacher-student relationship is that it is professional.
– As a teacher, you don’t need to get to know the entire student, but primarily know how the student works in the classroom, says Anna Ehrlin. Birgitta Altun agrees:
– In order to create trust between student and teacher, it is important to be able to differentiate between the private and the professional so that the relationship does not become a friend relationship.
Aware of how to express oneself in autism
Birgitta Altun has been working for many years as a teacher at a resource school for students with autism spectrum conditions. In her work, she often comes across situations where she needs to be a bit of a detective to get the students involved in the lessons. Something that she has become aware of over the years is that the way she expresses herself is of great importance. Words that are not precise can be difficult to understand, for example expressions such as “in a while”, “just in time” or “we’ll see”.
– Many students with autism interpret what is said literally. Then it is important as a teacher not to express oneself vaguely or unclearly. If the student does not do what is asked, it does not have to be because the student does not want to do the task, but because of how the question is asked, she says.
Dare to be open with mistakes
Both Birgitta Altun and Anna Ehrlin point to the importance of daring to try your hand and daring to be open and straight with the students even when you make mistakes or when the lesson doesn’t work.
– And dare to say “now it didn’t turn out so well” or “now we’re doing it this way instead.” Or say out loud that “oh, now I counted wrong.” When teachers dare to show that they are not error-free, it is easier for students to feel secure that they do not always have to answer correctly, says Birgitta Altun.
Both Birgitta Altun and Anna Ehrlin agree that it must take time to develop their pedagogical pace.
– It is not something that happens in a day or that you get done with. Working on your pedagogical sense of tact is about a will to develop and you never finish that, says Anna Ehrlin.
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