A Day in the Life of a Listiac Fieldworker

It is 10 a.m. on a Monday morning and we are headed to the school, feeling nervous. We don’t know what we are going to find. A school is not easily analysed. The languages, the interaction… We have the instruments prepared, but who knows what we are facing today.

We are on the bus, talking about what we have seen so far: different strategies to promote languages, different methods, translanguaging, positive aspects, aspects to improve… We think we have been learning a lot from the school, perhaps more than in the office. That’s the reality and that’s what we have to observe. It’s been said that the schools are the reflection of society. That is our aim, to improve society starting from the classroom.

20 mins later, we are in the school, and like every other day, our paths go separate ways. Leire heads to primary education, whereas, Artzai heads to secondary education. Holding our instruments, we observe the classes, minute by minute, everything that happens.

-“Gaur bigarren orrialdearekin hasiko gara, con la de las funciones, ados?” (Today we will start with the second page, the one with the functions, okay?) –  One teacher says, mixing Basque and Spanish.

That’s translanguaging, pedagogical translanguaging. We take our pens and we write. Later, the teacher starts using synonyms and antonyms to explain mathematical functions and to talk about pollution. Our observation schemes are getting filled, so many things are happening. From time to time, we witness some negative aspects too, things to improve. We approach the teacher, ready to help. It’s action research, thus, that’s what we are here for – to research by doing, observing and helping. Some accept our feedback; others are more sceptical. Changes are hard but trying is key.

The observation schemes are filled. We head back to the university, slowly but steadily. Observing the reality is enriching and one of the most interesting aspects of our job. We have lunch to regain strength. We cannot stop talking about what we have seen, anecdotes, some jokes too. There are plenty of days left; we wonder what else we will get to see. We are happy, but also exhausted.

Tomorrow we are going to a university to do a reflection. The dialogue mat, the guidelines… We double-check everything. Will they understand? Will it be too hard? We want to promote reflection among the students, surely something interesting will come from it. Because in the end, we are here for change.

– Leire Ituino & Arztai Gaspar, University of the Basque Country

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