Ethnographic —My turn “experiencing someone else’s culture.”
Peer observation of teaching has always been a supportive and developmental process for helping me improve my quality of education. Although I do not hold an “educator” title, I still see myself as one because I am out in the communities imparting knowledge. From my perspective, the process of observing is just as if not more valuable than being observed and receiving feedback. It has to be mutual.
Also, the benefits for observers include learning about a new strategy and enhancing confidence to trying a new approach in within our teaching practice. Receiving feedback has also been perceived to be useful but not more beneficial than watching our colleagues teach.
According to Bandura’s (1977) social cognitive theory is that people are the agents of change in both themselves and their environment through their interaction with that environment. This has influenced my personal goal-setting and motivation.
My peer-observation experience involves one staff facilitate to a large group of high school students, Middle Eastern background. As she introduced us, I headed to the far back of the room ready to observe, take notes and watch the students’ reactions. Ethnographic Perspective. Now, it was my turn to write about the day I visited a private school in the far south suburban area of Palos Hills. This time, an African American educator and a Mexican-American coordinator walked into a Middle-Eastern class.
Yep, “I’m in for the next lesson of this educational walk.” I was ready to explore the use of ethnography with my educator and a bunch of high school students. This was about to become a useful tool for myself and something I may use in classrooms by describing my own experiences with this particular group. And so I felt the same way as the author did, “I just want to stand there and take this incredible experience in. This is like something I have never encountered, and that’s because I am now experiencing someone else’s culture.”
After her introduction, she asked for all females to sit on one side of the room and males on the other side. No questions asked students’ followed instructions. I was impressed; it flowed well … The facilitator’s tone of voice was warm, yet friendly and always smiling.
And so to summarize…
My takeaway as an observer -
- One strategy is engaging students in a role play using a real-life example. I found this to be “manageable” and “something I could also organize on my own.
- Next strategy, the use of the internet during the workshop. Since we are in a digital age, I have seen that when we have technology involved, it tends to grab the audience’s attention as opposed to a simple power point or lecture where there is no audio nor videos to show.
Overall, what became more meaningful to me was that regardless of our ethnicities, cultures, and language, none of these matter. Students welcomed us, listened, asked questions, and there was mutual learning.
Lastly, I asked the facilitator how she felt about being observed by another colleague, her response “relaxed mainly because there was an established a rapport with the observer (which was me, in this case,). As with others, it might’ve been apprehensive about being observed and feeling a little self-conscious or nervous because it seems as if “you are being judged in a way.”