Every Little Thing The Reflex Does

I’m showing my age, I know.
I was just thinking earlier, about decision making in the classroom. There’s a brilliant diagram by Chaudron in one of my favourite books, Allwright & Bailey (1991?) Focus on the Language Classroom. CUP. It shows the multitude of decisions we have to make in our classrooms on the fly about error treatment. Add to these the decisions about whether to divert from the lesson plan and how to do it and then it’s an even larger number.
With all these decisions, how do we go about them in a principled way? I feel we do an awful lot based on reflexivity as opposed to reflection. I know that we build up our intuition as we log more classroom practice and think about what goes on but can any of us say every single one of our decisions is planned in advance?
So, the point: I wonder if we logged every reflexive decision and its outcome whether it would help to make better decisions more likely, sort of by step-by-step proceduralizing the metacognitive process (or thinking about what was a good decision and what was a bad decision and hoping that the remnants of this reflection will be accessible the next time you have a  similar decision to make).
We can wing it every lesson but is it always the most effective to wing every stage of the lesson all the time? If you’ve done similar things, you can hopefully make similar successes more probable. It’s just making those seemingly more trivial decisions more principled because they might just have ramifications that we don’t anticipate. And as Duran Duran say, “Every little thing the reflex does leaves an answer with a question mark”. Flex-flex!

3 Replies to “Every Little Thing The Reflex Does”

  1. “Can any of us say every single one of our decisions is planned in advance?” Great question, Marc. Definitely not in my case. Many of my decisions are made on the fly. So when I sense/observe something’s turning out well in the lesson, I simply seize the opportunity. I mean, I do plan in advance, but I’m willing to change things at any point of the lesson (if it’s possible). So, I can’t really say whether my teaching practice is more reflective than reflexive. I suppose it’s both. But if you are aware of your reflexive decisions (log them and draw some conclusions afterward), your whole teaching then becomes reflective, I guess. Because I do think that, as you put it, the remnants of each reflection will be accessible the next time you have a similar decision to make, so your next reflexive choice will automatically involve more thought.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Hana. I think logging these decisions is nice but sometimes time is of the essence (getting to the next class, etc.) so even just a bit of a think for a minute going up the stairs or gathering stuff means actually trying to mentally process the decisions.

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