Blog 5: Post-Prac Reflection and Parental/Caregiver Reflection

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.

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Evidencing element 3: Teachers Plan, Assess and Report for Effective Learning

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.

Demonstrate a variety of strategies to develop rapport with all students – Element 5

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.

Identifying an area of improvement

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

  1. It was a brand new class that had not establish friendship ties and therefore could not function well as groups.
  2. 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.

Reflective Entry 1: Pre-transitions into the Teaching Profession

June 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

At the conclusion of EDFD472 Transition into the Profession course, I am proud to express my eagerness, motivation and fears of teaching fulltime next term. Listening to our many guest speakers over the intensive 5 day course was beyond insightful to the professional teaching environments as it not only depicted what it would be like in the classroom, but as well as in the staff room and community as a whole. The one message that really stuck to me had come from Michael Addicoat, to stay away from whingers and never ever let another teacher stop you from being innovative, motivated and creative with your teaching strategies. Although we are to soak in our collegue teacher’s advice, it does not mean that we cannot experiment with our teaching strategies.

In relation to Michael Addicoat’s advice, it is within my primary interest to know and understand how my students learn before any form of pedagogical experiments begin. This is in direct line with element2 of the NSW IOT Teaching Standards to demonstrate knowledge and strategies that apply effective teaching for all learners. I hope to achieve this element on my practicum, as it is one of the central reasons I chose to be a teacher – to excite students about subject content, learning and life in general.

Upon achieving or attempting to achieve student engagement, I must be fully prepared to help extend my student’s skills and knowledge beyond their own expectations. The secret in achieving helping my students achieve is through element3: ‘planning, assessing and reporting for effective learning’. As much as I am very student centred with my pedagogies, I acknowledge the need to transform my visions into a long term goals in order to continually challenge my students. Repeating the cycle of plan, assess and report is a simple three step process that considers not only what I am going to do, but also the effectivness of what I have done to help my students progress.

 

Week 11

May 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

Reflecting on Caliban

You taught me language, and my profit on’t
Is I know how to curse. The red plague rid you
For learning me your language!
(Act I, Scene 2, lines 366–368)
(Shakespeare, Norton)

Caliban is the earthly creature that is truly an inhabitant of the land and that has been corrupted by education and language. The image in my mind of Caliban especially with these lines screams Aboriginal history at me. Shakespeare has fuelled Caliban with this fiery persona to claim the island as his own. How did Shakespeare come to know of the indigenous? Caliban’s language is so rough with sharp vowels and short words consisting of one or two syllables. Language has displaced Caliban. Miranda and Prospero’s gift is not welcomed within Caliban’s world understanding and knowing. Instead, it has corrupted him and his own perception of self identity to his previous primitive self. Many may perceive Caliban as the villain or force of evil because of this and because of his opposition to Prospero. But is he really a force associated with evil? Did we not also come onto this land with good intentions to educate the indigenous with western culture, language and religion? Not realising how the indigenous way of life was far more superior than we could ever imagine ourselves to be at the time. I believe through Caliban, Shakespeare offers a different perspective to his audience. To a Great Britain rising to the peak of colonisation, Shakespeare releases Caliban to voice the voice of the indigenous and our disturbance to their existence. Caliban’s view of an oppressive Prospero is a valid view that cannot be objected, highlight a unique wisdom within his indigenous perspective.

Week 10

May 15, 2012 § 1 Comment

T h e    l a n g u a g e

Although Shakespeare touches on universal themes of love, loss, authority, relationships and war, it is not the essence of what makes his artistic works riveting. Anyone can write a play or a poem on such universal themes. It is more how he does it that leaves me awestruck. To think, I was going to be an English teacher without really knowing the true power of language.

Shakespeare used to look like this to me “fOSDhg;csKJFSDRNzzzZzzZzzZzzzz……………..”
A clear language barrier.

After practice in reading, re-reading and acting out Shakeaspeare’s plays, I gradually began to understand him. Shakespeare’s hold on language is something that definitely stands the tests of time. He only had so many words he could work with at the time and definately developed the English language. Linguistically, he used every technique possible where appropriate to tap into a realm of imagination that cradles our emotions to submit to the demands of his words. The power of his words lusciously paint worlds within the reader’s minds, so much that you cannot read Shakespeare, you must act it. Any reading easily turns to acting because the words control your tongue. Throughout the plays I have noticed that Shakespeare does not describe the surroundings, he more so uses and contrasts his characters language with each other to create an inherent environment and story within themselves.

Much can be learnt about Shakespeare’s language. This is what 21st century literature needs to return to. Shakespeare’s work provide a refreshing source of linguistic inspiration in the 21st century literature that seems to be exhausting all of it’s creativity within plots and characters. Yet if we return to the very heart of literature, to use language like how Shakespeare did, we would have the power to inspire worlds of imagination to our readers and society. And imagine what the world be like then….

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