September 23, 2012 § Leave a comment
After 10 weeks of practical experience, I realise there is a lot that occurs whilst teaching that cannot be taught to us in university. In my initial lessons, I felt as if my lessons had no directive because I demanded maximum student engagement. I have come to use much better scaffolded activities that revolve around a central message, concept or idea. To achieve this, the objective of each lesson was always written on the board to remind me as the teacher and emphasise for students the objective of today’s topic. This of course was not always written on the board as soon as class started, as I strived for students to articulate the objective to me after I directed various questioning techniques.
Also to achieve this, I balanced my lessons with teacher guided instruction or content and scaffolded student activity. The best formula I found that worked with this balance is a 10-15minute limit for every activity. Through this, I was constantly modelling, scaffolding and allowing time for student group, paired and/or individual work. I found maximum student engagement by using this time limit and making the students aware of this time limit.
The importance of Parents and Caregivers
Teacher parent/caregiver relationships are vital for the academic and personal wellbeing of students. Communication between teachers and parents/caregiver motivates students to do better. During my prac, a particularly difficult student surprisingly studied and made a decent attempt for an exam after writing a note in her diary for consistently not completing her homework. After the exam, she was over the moon with her results and I rewarded her with a merit of most improved. The results of this student surprised many of my colleague teachers who supported her progress and constant positive, negative, feedback and progress report communication to and from school and home.
On the contrary, I also experienced an extremely difficult student whom all of my colleague teachers have had trouble with since Year 7. As advised from my colleague teachers, the parents of this student do not accept our feedback about their daughter and continually argue for their daughter’s side which is not always truthful. It is evident that the student has close and positive relationship with her parents for her to manoeuvre out of her schooling issues. If the parents were able to accept or acknowledge that their daughter could try better at school, they could support her academically and challenge her to do better.
September 19, 2012 § Leave a comment
Targeted standard 3.1.7 – Give helpful timely oral and written feedback to students
Upon preparing my Year 10 English class for an in class exam essay, I allowed 20minutes of every lesson for my students to prepare for their exam whilst I sit with individual students for a strict 7minutes. My lesson plans indicated this allocated time for individual students and it really got me to see the common traps my students fell into. This helped my preparations for class, ensuring that class work helped maintained the quality of student essays. However, due to numerous school events that interrupted our class, preparation time for the exam was running out. With my supervising teacher’s permission, I conducted an emailing conference time in the final days of before the exam to provide feedback on student draft essays.
This is a protected screenshot of my learning conference with one of my students. Evidently, these emails were exchanged on the same date within a tight time frame for our online feedback conference. Vivian is a student who I had only completed one quick class learning conference with and at that time her first draft was quite weak and needed lots of editing. To my absolute delight, Vivian scored the highest in the exam essay.
After marking and assessing two classes, I created a thorough feedback document for the essay module. Although this resource was only created for my class, the English department took this feedback and forwarded it to the entire grade.
September 19, 2012 § Leave a comment
Building rapport with students is an element of teaching that requires time. Being a young teacher does not automatically grant you an edge of coolness and approachability that the students will instantly take up after the first week of classes. Within my first couple of weeks of teaching, I always ensured that I maintained an approachable manner and brought an upbeat aura of motivation to class every day. However, just because I brought along energy, did not necessarily mean that students would catch on to it either.
After a couple of disappointing attempts to entice and provoke class discussion and debate, I quickly realised that I needed more than just a positive attitude to win over the students. What I needed was to develop rapport with every student. My strategies to do so varied completely on a daily basis and for different year groups.
Being at an all girl’s high school, I mistakenly (however unsurprisingly) discovered that the girls absolutely loved fashion, music and dance. These were small but significant aspects became a strategic weapon in which I used to build rapport with my students. My professional attire was carefully selected the night before my history classes, deliberately correlating it to the fashion of the 1960s during our decade study. Every class, I would walk in and allow the girls to identify how my outfit resembled the 60s and elaborate on why it was significant at the time. After deconstructing my outfit, more students began to participate in class which evidenced to me that this strategy was successful.
Music and dance are other key elements that the students not only loved, but also what the school celebrated. Thankfully, these art forms are also treasured dearly by myself, making it easy to formulate conversations with some students. For many nights, I thought tirelessly on how I can implement these art forms into my class content without getting the students too side tracked. Instead, I moved beyond the classroom to celebrate these art forms within the school community. During school events such as Mary Mackillop Day and Year 10 Reflection Day, opportunities arose for teachers and students to showcase their dance and music skills in good spirit. My participation in this was not only to build rapport with students, but to have fun. Inevitably, it did build rapport with my students and students of the wider school community. Students began to recognise me and it provided them an initial point of conversation.
Although these two examples may seem quite insignificant in effort, they were the most visually evident strategies that helped me build rapport with students.
September 19, 2012 § Leave a comment
– Element 3 of the Professional Teaching Standards –
My very first lesson with my Year 10 History was a very disappointing one. A new class that which I had yet to figure out their personalities and learning style, I was aiming to teach them about the Protection Policy for Aboriginals. Here, I assumed that many students would be very uninterested in the topic and therefore aimed for a very high energy, student driven empathy activity.
My main outcome to address was 5.9: Use historical terms and concepts in appropriate contexts. My indicators were:
- Identify and explain perspectives of different individual groups
- Interpret history within the context of the actions, values, attitudes and motives of individuals or groups.
These outcomes and indicators however, were not achieved due to a number of reasons.
I had planned for students in groups to create foreign identities with career and family goals whilst an assigned group was to act as the government and were to counter the goals of other groups. This failed because
- It was a brand new class that had not establish friendship ties and therefore could not function well as groups.
- I did not provide the class and individual groups, especially the government group, a goal to achieve and strongly relate why they were doing this activity back to the Protection Policy before they embarked on their group work. Some students caught on to the purpose of the activity; however the majority of the class did not.
Lacking an appropriate learning goal for this lesson, I immediately identified this weakness in my teaching and lesson plan. Through this, I learnt that each lesson must have a clear goal – at least one concrete message for the students to take away from the lesson. Without this clear goal set for the class, my activities neglected the outcomes and indicators I had nominated for this lesson. Such errors were ones I had not considered earlier in my preparation and therefore became evident during and after class.
On the positive side, the majority of students enjoyed the activity as it fed their imagination and allowed for new interactions with peers that they had not spoken to before. The students were engaged, however, as already mentioned, could not identify the point of the activities.
Despite being my very first lesson in Week 1 that I taught solely, this lesson became a defining experience for my future lesson planning, scaffolding and activities.