By: Dr. Crystal Bolamperti
“Praxis is action that is morally-committed, oriented and informed by traditions in a field. It is what people are engaged in when they think about what their action will mean in the world” (Kemmis & Smith, 2008, p. 4). Situational, intentional, and thoughtful describe the nature of praxis. Praxis occurs when I try to create meaningful learning contexts that keep these descriptors in mind and insist on student investment and support students accordingly. Knowledge, rather than being a ‘thing’ is more of a verb, with students seeking learning connections and relations. During a budget activity, my students learn about saving and spending and about how their developing monetary skills will transfer to their own money management in the future. Students concretely create formulas to perform cell calculations in a spreadsheet while designing a document representing a check register. They transfer their spreadsheet skills to when they monitor stock prices and enter formulas to indicate the weekly maintenance or change in price. Students make connections to the real world and I am aware of a felt relevancy and inner motivation that feeds the learning.
When teachers think outside of their classroom and beyond school rules while demonstrating “creative thinking, compassion, and critical consciousness” (Kemmis & Smith, 2008, p. 5), they exemplify the responsibilities of praxis. I demonstrate such responsibility through constantly calling my teaching into question as well as that of my colleagues while striving to be a role model and a proponent of innovative, pedagogical thought. I support educational projects in the community and through answering questions addressed at a school board meeting, such as when I provided rationale for the one-to-one laptop initiative in my school district, thus, advocating for learners and learning. Praxis involves my continual self-evaluation of teaching efficacy and how my actions affect others. Effective reflection of teachers, according to Day (2004), is a means for professionals to exercise both responsibility and accountability for the decisions that they make in their teaching and maintain broader understandings of the interrelationships between teaching purposes and practices and the policy contexts in which these occur (p. 29). Reflection is ongoing as I see and act concomitantly and long after I leave the classroom each day. Whether during teaching, or at the end of a class period or day, I continuously reflect upon my teaching in addition to other colleagues. Even when I am grocery shopping, parenting, or volunteering, I am processing how teaching unfolded and what I can do to help students share the experience or what they can gain from their learning. Beyond the school setting, I uphold a strong support of other teachers and my own involvement in professional organizations. For example, when I attended the NETA (Nebraska Educational Technology Association) Conference, I gained knowledge about ethical use of technology, methods for teachers assisting one another with technology skill development, creative student examples of utilizing technology tools such as intertwining reading, writing and art, as well as learning about listservs that allow me to collaborate with teachers throughout the country about best practices of technology integration. My involvement in professional organizations encourages me to become part of a larger world than my classroom or school and enables me to share these experiences among my colleagues, bring these opportunities to my students and inspire them to do the same.
Thus, praxis insists that I am well prepared to teach. The undergirding thoughtfulness is read by students, educators, and the greater community, and over time advocates in important ways for learners and learning.
Day, C. (2004). A passion for teaching. New York: Routledge.
Kemmis, S. and Smith, T. J. (2008). Enabling praxis: Challenges for education. The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.