This first chapter focuses on the analysis of the teaching session. This covers not only the typical school class or lesson, but any form of organized teaching event such as a workshop, seminar, lecture, laboratory period, practical class or field trip. It also covers individual or small group tutoring, supervision or coaching.
One teaching session can differ a good deal from another. For your analysis, choose one or more sessions that you think are fairly typical or representative of your work. The aim of this chapter is to engage in a concrete, 'grounded' analysis of some actual teaching, rather than try to generalize about your experience, so if some of your teaching sessions are very different it is best to go through the chapter a second or third time, using other examples. The contrasts between the various situations should in themselves throw up interesting questions.
In one way, the session is the obvious place to start. It is the crucible of teaching, where it happens. At the same time, any analysis of a class or session will quickly show that we cannot treat it in isolation, not just from other classes but from other elements of teaching and learning. Students may need to prepare for the session and there will often be follow-up work as well. One session may relate to or lead on to another. The work that is done in them all will be assessed. Teaching comes as a package; it is not just a single event, but a combination of different kinds of activities that together comprise the environment for learning. In responding to the questions that follow, therefore, you should bear in mind not simply what happens (or does not happen) during the actual event but what precedes, surrounds and follows it. Indeed the problem trail may lead you away from the session itself towards these related or contextual issues.