Element 2- Teachers Know Their Students and How They Learn

                                   MILESTONES – ELEMENT #02


I believe that my role as a teacher is to develop my students’ physical, social and intellectual skills to my optimum potential, and to use this knowledge about my students to make my teaching more effective. I want to be a teacher who facilitates my students’ development of their creative potential, and I want my students to direct their learning through being interactive, rather than have me direct all their learning. I believe that effective learning occurs when the teacher and students work together, rather than having the teacher dictate his/her students’ learning. The physical, social and intellectual development of each grade is undoubtedly different from one another, therefore this will have an impact on the way students learn. As a teacher, I want to cater for this difference in the best way that I can. As a teacher, I must value the diversity of cultures that enter my classroom. All students, regardless of their ethnicity, age, culture, or sex, have the right to learn. My role is to encourage my students to value their peers’ cultural backgrounds, and to make sure that all my students’ learning is not hindered by anyone’s expectations based on prejudices or stereotypes.

Multicultural education policies are enforced in all schools across Australia. The policies promote teachers to develop intercultural understandings, and also to help non-English-speaking-background (NESB) students to maintain their ethnic language and traditions and at the same time develop their English competence (McInerney & McInerney, 2006, p. 351). Cummins (1992, cited in McInerney & McInerney, 2006, p. 355) believes that the teachers who encourage and help to preserve their students’ mother language empower students’ learning, rather than those teachers who attempt to replace their students’ mother language with the English language. As important it is for NESB students to learn the English language, it is equally important for these students to preserve their mother language (McInerney & McInerney, 2006, p. 355).

I have designed lessons during my last two practicum which allowed the students to share aspects of their cultural background by discussing and writing about an event/festival which they participate in. I have taught in a school where approximately 60% of the student population from an Arabic-speaking background, and of these students, the majority are Muslim. In another school that I was at, approximately 94% students come from a non-English speaking background. I have been exposed to students from a diverse range of cultural background. This has been very beneficial because I have learnt so many new things about the different cultural aspects which each student brings to the classroom. Observing is a technique which I use often on my students, and in doing so, I pick up on the way my students develop physically, socially, and intellectually.

I will explore a range of ways to learn about my students’ varying approaches to learning. I will maximise my students’ learning experiences and outcomes with Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence theory firmly in mind. I agree with Howard Gardner that every person has different cognitive strengths, and it is my role as a teacher to help my students discover their strengths, as well as develop their other multiple intelligences to the best of their abilities (Ewing, Ground-Water Smith, Le Cornu, 2003, pp. 68-69.)

I need to learn more about the different cultures which enter my classroom. In doing this, I need to write a profile of each of my students. This will help me gain an insight on how each of my student’s social and cultural backgrounds affect their learning styles. I need to encourage my NESB students to preserve their mother language, because as important it is for NESB students to learn the English language, it is equally important for these students to preserve their mother language. 



STAGE – Early Stage 1

DURATION- 25 minutes


TES1.2 -Demonstrates basic skills of classroom and group interaction, make brief oral presentations and listens with reasonable attentiveness

WES1.9 - Engages in writing texts with the intention of conveying an idea or message

  1. The day before this lesson, the majority of students from Kindergarten C were away, due to the fact that their families were celebrating Eid. Start off the lesson by asking those who were away with the following questions:
-          Why did you stay home yesterday?-          What was so special about yesterday?-          What did you do during the celebration?Inform those who students who did not celebrate Eid that it was a special day for people who are Muslim, because it marks the end of the fasting period. Further explain to students that “fasting” is a period when Muslim people do not eat or drink between dawn and sunset of everyday of the month.
  1. Provide examples for students- Just like Christian people celebrate Christmas, and Vietnamese people celebrate by attending the Moon Festival, and Chinese people celebrate Chinese New Year, Muslim people celebrate Eid.
  2. Ask students to tell the class one event that they celebrate within their own culture, and use that as a stimulus for them to write about. For the four students who just arrived from Lebanon, allow them to depict their cultural celebrations through visual images.
  1. After students finish writing, choose a few students to present their celebration with the whole class.
  2. Reflect with students, and ask them one thing they have learnt about a culture different to their own.

 PURPLE – 2.1.1 Knowledge of and respect for the diverse social, cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds of students, and the effects of these factors on learning. I valued the different cultures within my classroom by discussing with the students the different events celebrated within their culture. This way, all students have the opportunity to learn about each other’s cultural background, and this will lead them to embrace the diverse range of cultures in Australia and be more accepting and open-minded about the different cultures within our society. Not only that, but I myself as a teacher also learn more about the different cultures which enter my classroom.

BLUE – 2.1.3 Knowledge of students’ approach to learning & 2.1.5 Knowledge of strategies for addressing students needs. I acknowledge that not all my students have the same way of learning. During my prac, I had four students who only just arrived from Lebanon, therefore they had no knowledge of the English language. So instead of asking them to write about their cultural celebration, I asked them to draw their experiences (with the help of the ESL teacher to explain the task to them). I took on board Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence theory, and had these students use their spatial intelligence to present their cultural celebration.

YELLOW – 2.1.2 Knowledge of the physical, social and intellectual developmental characteristics of the age group(s) of students. Since the students are in Kindergarten, their attention span is fairly short. Therefore, I know that each lesson should not take more than 25 minutes to complete.