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Posts Tagged ‘classroom management’

  1. Student Teacher

    10 August 2010 by shartley

    I found it fascinating watching my student teacher with Year 11 Business Studies today.  Normally she is very friendly and engaging as a teacher.  She is already a good teacher but will be a fantastic teacher in the not so distant future.  Today she was concentrating on maintaining focus from the students for the whole 75 minutes.  It was a very appropriately planned lesson, given it was on break-even analysis.  She attempted engaging the students with her real life experience as a business manager for fine dining restaurants which has been a successful hook in the past but fell flat today.  She then carefully went through the components of calculating the break-even point.  The students were keen to learn, even the disruptive ones.  However, since the disruptive students have in the past disrupted with inane or snide comments she didn’t notice that today they were asking some really intelligent questions and more often than not she was shutting them down.  With the explicit teaching part of the lesson over, there were worksheets to complete but she wanted them done in silence.  Most of the students in this class are not great at concentrating for long lengths of time so a little bit of chatter would have provided a good release valve.  One boy, who can be quite obnoxious but is very intelligent, asked if he could go outside for a drink of water.  She refused, thinking that any moment she would be teaching up-front again.  As it turned out, she took another five minutes or so and the boy was very aware, and indeed obnoxious, about the waste of time since he had completed his worksheet very quickly and accurately.  I explained later that the release valve of letting this boy out would have worked for both of them.

    Anyway, none of the students exploded from all the concentrating required of them, none of them appeared upset at the minimal encouragement, so no harm was done and besides, I’m going in first lesson tomorrow to praise them for what I observed.  My student teacher can take a lot of positives away from the lesson in that the students learnt a new business analysis technique and they did focus for the whole lesson.  When we talked afterwards she understood it was simply listening and encouragement of positive contributions that were lacking and that is something that normally comes naturally to her.  We had a good discussion about a tight-loose-tight structure for lessons such as these.

    After all that she went into a Year 9 History class for a different teacher and applied what we had talked about.  She came out beaming.  She had hit the right tone with the class and felt it was a very successful lesson.

    It is a privilege to watch student teachers in action and learn from them.  It is also good for being aware of the methods you use when they watch you.  Observing your class with another teacher is great for learning more about the students themselves and how they best learn.  I highly recommend the experience.

  2. What’s the buzz?

    7 August 2010 by shartley


    There’s a buzz in my Business Studies class that is hard to explain but I believe it stems from a situation of mutual respect.  Early in the course I introduced a concept of the boardroom discussion (briefly mentioned in an earlier post).  I would break the syllabus points to be addressed into the form of a meeting agenda.  A student acts as chairperson and they find from the class what they already know.  I simply act as an external consultant, or as the phone-a-friend option.  This gave the students confidence that they actually already knew a lot about Business Studies.  All they had to do was learn to use the language, write in an appropriate format and fill in some gaps, but together they know the bulk of the material.

    We also do a fair bit of group work where I try to give them as realistic business scenarios as possible (also mentioned in a previous post).  At the moment they are individually working on their business plan assessment tasks but often as a class we brainstorm ideas for each others’ plans.  They are actually willing and genuinely interested in helping each other.  My mantra is Keep It Real.

    To ensure they do cover each of the syllabus points there is an activity on Moodle, one for each syllabus dot-point.  These activities can be drawing diagrams, internet research and much more.  One of my weaknesses in teaching is the monitoring of work completion.  I know my students very well from my interactions with them but sometimes I am caught out when their written responses don’t match what they have demonstrated verbally.  Therefore I have been making a concerted effort to check every item uploaded through Moodle and giving some very quick feedback.  The most basic feedback is by selecting one of the following Moodle options:

    • Resubmit
    • Satisfactory
    • Substantial
    • High
    • Excellent

    (One of these days I will develop my own words to replace these.  For instance, it is only now, and I have been doing this all year, that the students have asked which is better between Satisfactory and Substantial.)
    Lately I have been doing this feedback process while they are going on with their work.  I have found this very useful to do in class for the benefit of immediacy.  For instance, yesterday I noted that Mr R was not only completely up to date (at last), he had moved from being consistently Satisfactory to consistently Substantial. One piece of work was better than the majority of the class.  I commented on all this in front of the class, and his chest puffed out with pride.  I am trying harder this term, Miss, he said (paraphrased).  I’m not sure I can keep it up but I’m giving it a go. I did the happy dance inside.

    This is a class of 13 boys and 3 girls.  The vast majority of the boys are athletic rather than academic, there is a boy with learning difficulties, a couple of really quiet boys and a boy who was known to have behaviour difficulties (I only see it every now and then).  There is a girl who often places a target on her back with her loud and attention-seeking ways but she has a heart of gold.  A couple of the boys find it very hard to resist going for that target but we talk about it openly.  I might say, Miss L, stop putting that target on your back.  Mr R, please resist the temptation to hit that target and they laugh and we move on.  One student has been sent an N Award warning letter for not completing an assessment task and another has been sick and away for sporting events regularly and has not completed any work for approximately six weeks.  I still need to monitor these situations quite closely.

    This class takes a lot of energy.  Yesterday, second last period on a Friday afternoon, I didn’t feel I had the energy to give but the buzz enlivened me and in the end I was actually energised by it.  It is a colony of working bees that relies less and less on their Queen Bee for discipline and knwledge.  The hard yards made in establishing this hive is really paying off.  Yay!

  3. First draft of a new Personal Philosophy of Education

    7 March 2010 by shartley

    Personal Philosophy of Education

    Education is vital for a society to progress socially and economically.  It is not merely about the accumulation of knowledge but the ability to communicate, negotiate and problem solve in a rapidly changing world.  Every student is a member of society and has something to contribute.  It is the teacher’s role to enable every student to find their part in the world.

    The classroom is a community within the school community and prepares students for a role in the broader community.  Therefore, the classroom is a place for learning values and social behaviour in order for the students to be able to not only participate but contribute to that broader community.  The teacher needs to model appropriate values and expect the same from the students.

    I believe students learn best when they have a sense of ownership over their progress.  Teachers should facilitate the learning process so that students are self-directed as much as possible.  To maintain students’ interest, content needs to be made real and relevant through integrating technology with a variety of pedagogical approaches, since technology is part of every day existence in Australia.  Careers and workplaces are no longer static and hence our students need to be flexible and be able to quickly adapt to changing circumstances.

    In the senior years, when education is more heavily driven by final exams, there needs to be a balanced approach.  A student’s final school mark is a gateway to opportunities in the future and is hence a critical aspect of their learning.  It is also important to focus on learning for life.  However, the two are not mutually exclusive.  Through a passion for learning students are more likely to achieve at a higher level in exams too.

    A firm, fair and friendly approach aids discipline in the classroom.  The learning environment needs to be respected and valued by all who participate within it.  Preparation and communication are key to making this a reality and boundaries must be clear and maintained.  Yet, compassion will also have a role to play at times, according to individual circumstances.  In a secondary school students are coping with many physical, social and cognitive changes.  There are also a wide range of family situations and difficulties students are experiencing at home and carrying with them emotionally.  It is important to be aware of these factors when teaching.

    As a Christian, I believe I have been called to the teaching profession.  I try to let my faith and principles guide my teaching, my whole life, as I strive to be the best I can be.

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