Behind the scene

Every cohort of students differs from one year to the next...one could get used to it. However, call me naive, I never cease to be taken by surprise. This year is not different. Let me explain...

Designing a lesson or a course goes far beyond what makes good content and how to best convey knowledge and key concepts. It is all about designing an experience that keeps you motivated, learning and asking for more. 

However, there are different categories of lessons. 
First, there are lessons you enjoy teaching. You have tried them before, you have refined and fine tuned the outcome; like with play dough, you can mould your lesson to individual students' needs, the uniqueness of a  group, and their likes and dislikes. 
Then, there are lessons when you know that you need to dig further into ideas, knowledge and innovative strategies to make your lesson work. 
Your inquisitive mind is then fully switched on
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Finally, and this is my favourite part, there are the brand new lessons... this is when you are ready to try something new; you push boundaries, you are in the unknown with students and you can only go towards what you think you had planned but it is a mutual discovery of learning and teaching on all sides. This unique teaching and learning experience opens your mind and all your senses to grasp new concepts, new horizons, leading you to further questions. Your inquisitive mind is then fully switched on!


All my interpreting students know that I am researching Communities of Practice as the missing link for interpreting studies, more specifically virtual Communities of Practice. I do mention it from time to time. But what I do not mention is that I use so many strategies encouraging a Community of Practice mindset in my daily teaching. This overlaps with other strategies inspired by Connectivism, Collaborative Learning and the Communities of Inquiry amongst others.


Think about it... taking part in lessons is a little bit like when you go to the theater. You enjoy the play but can only suspect what is happening behind the scenes. First of all, from the  play writer's point of view; what message did he/she want to convey, what questions did he/she wish the spectator to ask? 

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From the stage director's point of view, it is the same. He/she will look for strategies to convey the author's message in a unique way fully focussed on the spectator's interest and loyalty to the initial author. 

How will the spectator perceive the play? What will the experience be felt like? No details are left aside. 


Can you imagine what the stage director would feel like if one of the spectators came to him at the end of the play and deconstructed all the techniques he used during the play? It does not happen every day.

To my great surprise, I experienced a similar situation with my interpreting students a few weeks ago.

At the end of the Autumn semester, Londonmet interpreting students need to present a skill or tool relating to consecutive interpreting in groups of 4 students. There have been amazing presentations over the years but never did I get a presentation on how students experience consecutive interpreting as a community of practice.


A group of four students presented how they perceived communities of practice as a tool to learn consecutive interpreting, practice, share knowledge and build a community of practice. They connected our interpreting virtual classes initiatives to the virtual community of practice and demonstrated that our e learning tools could (or not) enhance virtual communities of practice.  With their permission, their filmed presentation can be seen here.

Like a stage director, I was amazed that students had understood the interest in the community of practice approach in their own learning. They had created their own Google Community and were already starting to work as a community of practice, integrating peers from their cohort and peers from virtual classes with partner universities. They were enthusiastic, motivated and you could perceive that they had gained an insight on all the benefits of a community of practice for them as individuals and also as professionals. They were using the community of practice model to communicate, share and grow. Their presentation was their work. I had participated in their discussions to prepare the presentation but never thought they would place the communities of practice model centre stage.

What can I say? I was speechless. 


The title of my blog, Community of Practice: the missing link for interpreting studies, gives an indication of my conviction and ambition towards the interpreting profession. This belief fuels my energy to relentlessly integrate the CoP mindset in the way Londonmet interpreting students learn, interact, perceive themselves as individuals and as professionals. When interpreting students leave the course, they have been exposed to learning and sharing as a community of practice; I know that they take this experience away and that without being fully aware of it, they embrace their new profession, colleagues and challenges with an open mind and trust that will give them the confidence to create new networks or join existing ones. 

Years after they leave the course, I have the privilege to follow interpreting alumni and observe how they embraced the experience and developed their own adapted CoP strategies.

In my next post, I will focus on the Londonmet interpreting ambassador scheme set up with the CoP model in mind.

I look forward to your comments and ideas.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are the author’s own and should not be taken to represent the official positions of universities, networks or associations.




















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