One of the reasons I decided to create a new portfolio website of resources for my students, as well as reactivate my old blog has a lot to do with my personal learning network. Mostly through communication means like Twitter, but also Edmodo and TES, I have built a large network of teachers with whom I communicate and share resources online.
For all teachers, I can't stress enough just how beneficial this has been to my teaching. So many ideas and so many new colleagues to discuss teaching with has really promoted my work in the profession far more than I ever expected.
Designated chat sessions through Twitter are especially useful. I have regularly participated in #ozcschat and #AussieED, but others have also proved beneficial.
It has been a while, but with my newfound desire to build my own portfolio of resources and rekindle my enjoyment of reflection and blogging, I have decided to reactivate my old internship blog from my days at uni.
It is interesting to learn four years on, what my opinions of myself as a practicum student were. Now that I am established in my position at Yass High, with several leading roles including timetable and year adviser, it is good to see that my passion hasn't changed. However, hopefully for the better, some of my teaching styles have!
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 now linked my Twitter account to this blog. You can view the most recent entries on the main home page.
Can I help you?
An interesting thing happened in my first week. I created an activity that my colleague teacher at the Ninja school thought was so good, she asked me to present it during a faculty meeting to all the maths teachers. While maybe a little nervous, I was only too happy to comply.
With my computing background (Major in Computing and Maths), the staff at the ninja school were initially very intrigued to see what I could bring to the maths classroom. I made it a personal goal in one sense to ‘show off’ to the teachers and students about how I can integrate obscure numbers and formula’s into ICT. The activity was about the stock market, essentially voting stocks and marketing decisions. Each student was required to vote on a decision, the result was automatically tabulated through Excel, and the students were able to see the result in the form of newspaper clippings set in the future that I created using a generator I found online. The students loved it, definitely helped increase my rapport with them (McBurney-Fry, 2002, p. 99). It was especially interesting to them because all students had greatly differencing total stocks, and since the voting was based on shareholding, the activity emphasised the value of a vote from a major and minor shareholder – leading to some hilarity for those that had only a few shares.
Element 6 of the NSW Institute of Teachers standards is about how “Teachers continually improve their professional knowledge and practice”. Specifically, 6.1.6 states that graduate teachers should contribute to the teaching of their subject, and 6.2.6 for the professional competence outlines how teachers should participate constructively in discussions. I feel that through my sharing of resources among the rest of the faculty, I have attained both of these.
Did I go too far? While this experience proved a great success, there has been a feeling by me that some of the things I’ve done have moved beyond the point of relevance, and the content and application of processes that students need to learn is not being taught correctly. The girls are greatly interested in the lessons I am teaching, but sometimes I walk away feeling like I ‘entertained’ them, rather than taught them. As Krech, Cruchfield and Ballachey argue, “the attitude of an individual is shaped by the information to which he is presented” (Krech, Crutchfield, & Ballachy, 1962, p. 186). In this context, the girls might be really enjoying the subject that I am teaching them, and thus come to expect that for all my classes. So I suppose the biggest challenge I face is ensuring the balance of content versus interest. A lesson might be largely related to a topic, but if students don’t learn how to make the simple calculations as described in the syllabus, then is it really worth it? Especially, given the time constraints in teaching the mathematics course (NSW Board Of Studies, 2003)?
Krech, D., Crutchfield, R., & Ballachy, E. L. (1962). Individual In Soceity. Berkeley: McGraw-Hill.
McBurney-Fry, G. (2002). Improving Your Practicum. Sydney: Thomson.
NSW Board Of Studies. (2003). Mathematics Years 7-10 Syllabus. Sydney: Board Of Studies NSW.
NSW Institute of Teachers. (2010). Professional Teaching Standards. Sydney. NSW Institute of Teachers.
Last week I created an activity for my students in year 11 General Maths. My colleague teacher liked it so much that she asked me to present it to the rest of the Maths faculty – which I was only too happy to do.It was about the stockmarket where students were given shares in a company, asked to vote on a decision, and were able to see the result in the form of newspaper clippings set in the future that I created using a generator I found online here.
Thankfully, they enjoyed it. I think it’s important for teachers to share as many resources as possible as all the kids deserve the chance to enjoy the best learning activities.
Searching for oneself? Google your own name, whats the coolest namesake you can find?
Check out Nick Biddle in the civil war – a forgotten hero of the civil war, largely beleived to be the fist casualty in wartime. How bizarre?
Visit the full article here.
With his head wrapped in blood soaked bandages, Nicholas Biddle was wearing the uniform of the Washington Artillerists although he was not officially a soldier. He was not allowed to be, for he was a black man. As Biddle made his way through Baltimore as the orderly to Captain James Wren, the sight of a black man in uniform enraged many in the crowd. Shouts of “Nigger in Uniform!” were raised, and as Wren later wrote, “poor Nick had to take it.” He was soon felled; struck on the head with a brickbat, which reportedly left a wound deep enough to expose bone.
A Computing teacher with a passion for collaboration and open source teaching.