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Professional Milestones - Element 2

Element 2 - Teachers know their students and how they learn.

Knowledge of and respect for the diverse social, cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds of students, and the effects of these factors on learning

2.1.1 - Demonstrate knowledge, respect and understanding of the social, ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds of students and how these factors may affect learning.

Knowledge of the physical, social and intellectual developmental characteristics of the age group(s) of students

2.1.2 - Demonstrate a knowledge of the typical stages of students' physical, social and intellectual development as well as an awareness of exceptions to general patterns.

Knowledge of students' varied approaches to learning

2.1.3 - Demonstrate a knowledge of students' different approaches to learning.

Knowledge of how students' skills, interests and prior achievements affect learning

2.1.4 - Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of students' skills, interests and prior achievements and their impact on learning.

I have used a number of strategies to get to know my students well in those initial few days. Some of these include working with small groups, looking through books, attaining a class profile, and using creative teaching strategies to learn more about the prior knowledge and backgrounds of my students. I completed a practicum in Southwest Sydney where the demographics of the area were predominately NESB backgrounds. The school was very active in community involvement and offered translators available for parent / teacher interviews as well as offering community language classes so that parents could come to school with their students and learn English. The need for the parents to learn English in order to aid students with their learning and more specifically their homework was recognised as greatly improving the learning outcomes of students. This same school also demonstrated cultural sensitivity and an awareness of many religious festivals and protocols. I have spoken to previous teachers and parents about difficult students to try and find out strategies that work for that child, and perhaps a reason why they are struggling at school.

I need to make sure that my tasks at school where possible are open-ended so that they cater to each student by allowing them all to participate in the same activity but at their own ability level. There is an inherent need however to provide a range of different teaching methods and styles in order to encompass all learners and ensure that some aren't slipping under the radar.

I will participate more in the home visits to Indigenous families within the school to increase my relationships with the parents of my students. I will write a mock Individual Education Plan (IEP) for a student in my class and after implementing some of the criteria see if that personalise education strategy affects their learning outcomes. I will use more visual cues in my room to appeal to the students who are unable to listen when their aggression escalates.

I believe that all students have something to offer in the classroom, and by unlocking these sometimes hidden talents, your classroom will become a richer place. Gardner's 'Multiple Intelligences' can be used in the classroom to advertise how each person's intelligence manifests itself in different ways. They can also be used by students to ackowledge different ways they can achieve success at school and for teachers to foster their students in ALL aspects of education. Class tasks and assessment tasks should be designed to incorporate as many of Gardner's Multiple Intelligences as possible to ensure that students experience maximum success (McInerney & McInerney, 2006, pp.70-73). By endeavouring to find out the educational needs of each and every student, I will be better equipped to design learning experiences that will benefit more students. For example, one of my students came from a family in which both parents were functionally illiterate. This caused much embarrassment for the student and his parents, and hence the initial hesitation to disclose such a fact. My endeavours to be approachable to all students paid off and he finally disclosed that he was not able to research his assignment at home because neither of his parents could read the information on the websites. I provided numerous opportunities for this student to have 1:1 time with me or another teacher in the room to complete his research. No other students knew about this as I kept it discrete. After finding out that I had helped her son, his mother came and thanked me and expressed her humiliation about her circumstances.

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