One of the most important things I believe a parent can do is take an interest in their child’s learning each day. A teacher might not be as willing to support a student if both the student and parents do not care about their education. Without motivation from both home and school, little learning is likely to ever take place. A teacher can only gauge how well a student is performing based on assessment results and their attitude in class – the rest of the time the student flies under the radar. It is the parent’s responsibility to focus not only on their child’s academic ability, but also their interactions with their peers and teachers. When I become a parent, I really only wish to know a few things at a parent-teacher night: is my child performing to their ability? Is my child willing to engage in class discussion, and is my child respectful of their teachers?
It’s hard to gauge just how much my internship has prepared me for real life once I enter the profession. One of my biggest concerns is that the ninja’s at my school weren’t exactly the worst behaved students in the country – how has the classroom management I learned and honed with them going to accurately translate to a school I’m employed at?
The truth is, I’m not sure I have been fully prepared – at least in terms of discipline. However, I do believe that the benefit of having well-behaved classes throughout the internship challenged me in a way I did not expect – lesson preparation. These students needed to be challenged and I needed to create highly effective and engaging lessons each and every single time to keep their respect and maintain the discipline. This has benefited me in a way I did not fully understand until it happened – students usually want to be involved, but often the lessons are so dry and boring (especially in maths) that they lose interest and act out. If I can continue my excellent structure of lessons and engaging teaching style (3.1.2), I feel this will outweigh (at least to some extent) the lack of classroom management techniques (5.1.6) I have developed.
I learned during my practicum about teacher digression. Often at the beginning I set tasks and activities for students to without fully explaining the structure or even omitting and instruction. As McBurney-Fry points out, these interruptions cause great confusion and lead to “an immediate decrease in student attention” (McBurney-Fry, 2002, p. 116). Teaching for ten straight weeks allowed me to develop this skill, outline exactly what I wanted my students to do each and every time and my digression issues were reduced.
When I weigh up to what I extent I achieved my goals, over all I am quite pleased with my results. Some of these opinions come from myself, my supervisors and my students (whom I issued a student teacher evaluation form to at the end of term).
1. I was well known in the maths faculty and classroom as the ICT maths guy, and I even presented tasks to other teachers I had developed.
2. Girls talk, and talk and talk and talk. This culture difference was evident quickly, but I feel I adapted to it well.
3. Maths is harder that computing. Kids don’t like it, there’s no prac rewards, so its harder to motivate – hence my use of video clips, games, tech and groupwork.
4. Nah, didn’t get a job =( They gave me some casual days, but literally no maths positions available.
5. Every element was passed by and checked by myself and my supervisors except for the one about aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders (2.1.5) – the school didn’t have any, so I couldn’t do anything about that one.
6. I was proud of myself. I was proud of my girls and their results. I will miss them and I feel they will miss me as teacher too. This is all down to the supportive environment I helped promote.
7. It was very enjoyable. I really did love teaching girls in the end, and I was sad and disappointed to be leaving.
McBurney-Fry, G. (2002). Improving Your Practicum. Sydney: Thomson.
N.S.W. Institute of Teachers. (2010). Professional Teaching Standards. Sydney: NSW Institute of Teachers.
I have applied to over twenty positions in the last few weeks, across all school types. Some for TAS, one for Science, most for maths. I am so tired of writing these applications, each one requires an ability to outline how I will meet a certain criterion. They’re like writing uni assignments all over again.
Many of which, I received an email (with a clear fill in the blank name template), informing me already I’m unsuccussful. So disheartening.
I set a challenge to myself to ensure every point of the NSW IT teachers elements were adhered to in at least one lesson throughout my internship. Up until this week, I had not fully met that goal. I have tested the waters in many classroom activities of peer tutoring and collaborative learning with many students discussing questions and solutions with person they sit adjacent to, but have not established a full group work activity with little to no input from me. Hence, I was as yet unable to tick off element 4.1.4 (Uses student group structures as appropriate to address teaching and learning goals) and 4.1.2 (design and facilitate a variety of purposeful group structures that facilitate student engagement to make content meaningful). I corrected that this week.
In year eight, I started a new topic in maths – coordinate geometry. This has a very strong correlation to map reading skills, so the introductory lesson was largely based on maps. I created my own resources with letter and number coordinates for Sydney, London, Disneyland, Hogwarts Castle, Sydney Entertainment Centre and the Sydney Football Stadium (examples are below). Each map had its own set of scaffolded questions (starting from identifying the feature at reference E5, up to determining bearings, most viable roads to take and varying perspectives in a seating plan). I separated the students into teams of four and assigned one map (Sydney) to three teams and one (London) to three other teams. The ninjas had to correctly answer every question and race their solutions to the front – the winning team for each set of maps scored three points, with the runner up receiving 1 point. I repeated this three times – three teams working on Hogwarts, three teams on Disneyland. Eventually we had declared a winner on the scoreboard.
The ninjas loved this activity – many came up at the end of to specifically tell me how much they enjoyed it, and every student seemed actively engaged in the activity. This helped me greatly in developing a strong rapport with the students, which McBurney-Fry outlines as a vital component in obtaining and keeping the attention of students (2002, p. 104). While walking around the room observing the teams working on their maps, I was pleased to see plenty of debate, peer tutoring and “tremendous energy towards mathematics” (Narayan, 2010). I was quite proud of myself (and of my students), and hopefully it opens the door to keep them keen and interested in the new topic until the end of term. A key dependant variable of an effective group project is member satisfaction and these girls were very satisfied with their efforts (Krech, Crutchfield, & Ballachy, 1962, p. 457). Aside from adhering to the teaching elements concerning group work, I am confident I have also met standard 5.1.4 that requires me to provide clear directions for classroom activities and engage students in purposeful learning activities.
Here is an example of the Disneyland Map:
Krech, D., Crutchfield, R., & Ballachy, E. L. (1962). Individual In Soceity. Berkeley: McGraw-Hill.
McBurney-Fry, G. (2002). Improving Your Practicum. Sydney: Thomson.
Narayan, D. (2010, January 24). Motivating Student Learning through Real World Applications of Higher Mathematics. Retrieved September 1, 2010, from Mathematical Association of America:http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p206824_index.html
NSW Institute of Teachers. (2010). Professional Teaching Standards. Sydney. NSW Institute of Teachers.
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A Computing teacher with a passion for collaboration and open source teaching.