‘Awareness is the capacity to recognize and monitor the attention one is giving or has given to something. Thus, one acts on or responds to the aspects of a situation of which one is aware.’ (Freeman, 1989)
Awareness is an essential aspect of language teaching and teacher education, as it is, or should be, part of one’s everyday life. Without awareness of a certain aspect in question, monitoring one’s (own) actions and/or behaviour in that area would simply be impossible.
One evening in March 2009, there was a knock on the door. I was surprised to see a man who said that he was my downstairs neighbour. He said that he had been living in that apartment since the previous July (for about 9 months), and then started to complain about the noise of my footsteps which, he called unbearable. He said he had never come upstairs to complain so far but that evening he had had enough. I was truly shocked to hear this , and could not believe that I had been the source of such trouble. I immediately apologised for disturbing him, thanked him for warning me as I wasn’t aware of this at all and promised to be more careful.
Since that day I have been attentive while walking in the corridors. Naturally, I do not always remember the warning; however, I have developed a kind of internal awareness which makes me monitor my steps and even my husband’s steps as well. At this point, it would be important to acknowledge my attitude as I could be a person who wouldn’t care for the warning. As an adult, I had the knowledge and the skill of walking in an apartment but I needed a warning which raised my awareness to correct or repair my behaviour. I responded to the warning by monitoring my attention to it since my attitude is responsive to this warning.
Without the direct intervention by a supervisor or evaluations on self or peer observations or any other reflective practices which would trigger one’s attention to a certain aspect of teaching behaviour, it is unlikely to change that certain behaviour even though the teacher in question is a fully prepared responsible person.
I will continue to write about awareness and how important it is in teaching. There are aspects in our teaching that needs to be improved. Most of us are unaware of some of these. We keep going in our blissful unawareness. Until one day, we are made aware of tha,t and let to take a deliberate action to repair it. Like my neighbour’s warning on my footsteps. The good news is, he has never come back so I can safely say that my deliberate action repared my behaviour that I was unaware of thanks to the fact that I was made aware of it.
Freeman, Donald (1989). Teacher Training, Development and Decision Making; A model Teaching and Related Strategies for Language Teacher Education TESOL Quarterly, Vol.23, No. 1, March 1989