Element 1 Teachers know their subject content and how to teach that content to their students
I have designed and implemented lesson sequences that are founded in the relevant NSW syllabus documents and that aim to develop students’ understanding of the concept in a relevant and sequential manner (see Appendix A (i) & B (i)). I have aimed to achieve this by promoting a constructivist approach to teaching and learning. In order to do this I have taken on the role of the facilitator to scaffold the students’ learning, rather than transmit what knowledge I have on the topic (Groundwater-Smith, Ewing & Le Cornu, 2003, p.80). This has been done through promoting student voice in the classroom, through open discussions on subject content, which encourages substantive communication and student direction (see Appendix C) (NSW DET, 2003, p.11 & 13). I have found beneficial to the learning experience as it has provided me with an opportunity to collect information on their prior knowledge for future planning and assessment, as well as create an environment where students feel comfortable to share their ideas and learn from each other (NSW DET, 2003, p.11 &15). Thus students are able develop an understanding of the content that is significant and relevant to them.
When it has been of benefit to the educational experience of the student, I have endeavoured to implement ICT, using it as tool for active engagement and to develop their efficiency in areas of ICT (see NSW DET, 2003, p.13 and Vallis & Williamson, 2008, p.58). This can be seen in a variety of ways such as the use PowerPoint presentations to present visual stimulus for drug education, the use of websites to explore the structure and possible content of explanations (see Appendix D), and the use of notebook software to teach mathematics. As well as encouraging students to develop their ICT skills through regular lessons in the computer lab (see Appendix E & F).
I will further my understanding of the modes of enquiry and how they can be effectively used to promote a quality learning environment. I will also develop my understanding on the pedagogies of various content areas such as English, HSIE and integrating ICT for educational benefit. I have chosen these areas as my focus as I believe they require the most improvement and development of pedagogy on my behalf. I will also become engaged in discussions with my colleagues about how to plan quality lesson sequences based on the expectations of the NSW syllabus documents.
To achieve this goal of gaining a greater understanding of how to teach relevant subject content effectively, I need to practice what I already know and reflect on those experiences. Subsequently, I need to initiate observations of teachers applying theory in a classroom and discern what characterises a quality teacher. To truly accomplish the goals set above, I need to ground myself in research, so that I am not trying to “reinvent the wheel” but apply and reflect on what has already been done. Subsequently, on my next practicum I am planning to allocate a substantial amount of non-teaching time to observing a variety of teachers, so to make progress on my goals. In response to this approach I need to implement lessons that take what I have learnt about pedagogy into account, so that I am practically applying what I am learning.
As a teacher I believe you can never know your subject content too well. That being said, there will always be a student who knows more than you on a topic, or a student that requires a simpler explanation than the one you provided. Therefore I believe the key is in knowing how to teach the well-researched content in a variety of ways that does not limit the students’ understanding to what you know, nor damage the integrity of the content area. I believe this is necessary because no two students are alike; they are individuals with unique personalities and pasts, who will often learn in different ways to each other.
Groundwater-Smith, S., Ewing, R., & Le Cornu, R. (2003). Teaching challenges and dilemmas. Southbank: Harcourt Australia Pty Ltd.
New South Wales Department of Education. (2003). Quality teaching in NSW public schools: Discussion paper. Professional Support and Curriculum Directorate. Retrieved March 15, 2009, from http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/qualityteach/assests/pdf/qt_disc_pap.pdf
Vallis, K., & Williamson, P. (2008). Interactivity: it’s not about the screen. Teacher, October 2008, 58-59