Working it out through positive dialogue

Skrevet af Chris Day - Foto: Rie Neuchs - 4. juni 2008 - 14:210 kommentarer
Not one word about anger management! Definitely not when the teacher might be fighting a losing battle to control their temper.

In the lecture hall, emotions are definitely a communication issue. An annoyed teacher doesn’t feel good about teaching or teach very well. So how does one get from annoyance to positive dialogue? One takes a course through CBS Learning Lab.

Good feelings equal good communication. And learning happens. Bad feelings equal bad communication. Learning does not happen. One of the core preoccupations of the age is how to get the message across without letting emotion cloud the issue. In the lecture hall, clear communication that facilitates learning and dialogue is vital for the well-being of CBS’ teachers and students alike.

At the front-line of learning, in the classroom itself, a lesson may occasionally not go as planned and emotions can cause a breakdown in the learning process. As one teacher explains, to experience a lecture that is not going well can lead to all sorts of frustrations:

- You work very hard to prepare for a lecture: For a young lecturer, you sometimes spend three or four days in order to prepare for two hours. A lot of time and energy is taken to put knowledge, feelings and self into the subject, she explains and goes on to tell about what then happens:

- In general, half the students come late. The rest spend at least five minutes talking to each other. And many are eating. When things don’t work out like this, I’m left thinking: Why? Is it because the subject’s boring, or because they didn’t read?"

The students’ disrespectful behaviour at the start of the lecture can leave the communication process damaged. And as emotions surface, the learning experience suffer. The teacher continues:

- For a lot of lectures, you take it personally and you think: Oh no, it’s me – it’s my fault. You walk away sad and frustrated and think: Why am I doing this?"

As Ib Anderson, Head of CBS Learning Lab explains, the key principles of the Learning Lab are based on learning through dialogue:

- Our opinion is that you learn when you are in dialogue and having discussions with a teacher, and not just being lectured.

Dialogue on course

Clearly, bad behaviour and teachers that respond emotionally to it are harmful to that flow of dialogue. But help is at hand for harassed teachers at CBS.

In response to requests from CBS teachers asking for help in handling this issue, Helle Marstal from University College Copenhagen (Professionshøjskolen København – afdelingen for Udvikling, forskning og efter- og videreuddannelse), has designed a course offered through CBS Learning Lab.

The course is called "Dialogue and resistance to learning" and places focus on the teachers themselves. Training is structured around a main objective and the teachers’ own learning objectives. As Helle Marstal explains, the idea is:

- …to go further into the personal side of their professional side.

As our teacher emphasises:

- You have to try and meet the students where they are in their minds. In order to establish a dialogue, you have to think; "Where are they?", and not; "Where am I?

- If I have a mission, it is to support teachers and make them feel comfortable in what they are doing. When the learning process gets difficult for the students, it hurts the teachers… They take it personally when the problems have to do with the process, Helle Marstal says about her objectives.

Getting the win-win

The two day course is essentially about aiding the exchange of dialogue. Teachers are trained to look at themselves, to deal with their own emotional or personal responses better and above all, to keep the dialogue going. One notable exercise has teachers facing questions from other teachers, but only being allowed to answer with a further question.

- This is very difficult for a teacher. The things that they experience here, they experience for themselves. We create a real life here for them to reflect on, Helle Marstal says.

The response from CBS’ teachers to the course has been phenomenal:

- When you create positive dialogue, you create learning. When you have the dialogue, your brain reacts to the dialogue and you start to think. This creates a new box that you can put new learning inside, explains our CBS-professor, who goes on to enthuse:

- It was the best course I have ever attended at Learning Lab, and I will be promoting it to all the other teachers at CBS. I’m sure they would have the same experience.

Helle Marstal relates the positivity to the teachers’ determination:

- The feedback is really positive, because teachers are allowed to focus on themselves within a pedagogical framework. They really want to improve and be good teachers. They are very ambitious in a positive way.


For more information, contact:

Helle Marstal, cand.mag., MSc in Gestalt in Organisations,
Professionshøjskolen København, UCC
Telephone: 7020 2840

Ib Andersen at CBS Learning Lab:
Telephone: 3815 2782