Professional Milestones - Element 4

Element 4 - Teachers communicate effectively with their students.

Effective communication and classroom discussion.

4.1.1 - Communicate clear directions to students about learning goals.

4.1.2 - Demonstrate a range of questioning techniques designed to support student learning.

4.1.3 - Listen to students and engage them in classroom discussion.

Student Grouping

4.1.4 - Use student group structures as appropriate to address teaching and learning goals.

Teaching Strategies

4.1.5 - Use a range of teaching strategies and resources including ICT and other technologies to foster interest and support learning.

I have engaged with a range of teaching strategies while on practicum. One of my biggest achievements was team teaching in a class of 64 students in an open classroom environment. Although it was initially confronting and continually challenging, I am lucky to have experienced such a classroom while I had ample support available. After team teaching with 4 different teachers, including another practicum student, it made me realise how much team teaching relies on personality cohesion between the teachers involved. This situation allows teachers to share their strengths with their students so they gain the maximum benefit in all KLA areas. I have also prided myself on my communication with my students. This can be manifested in a number of ways, for example taking the time to talk and listen to students, knowing my students well enough to be able to stimulate meaningful discussions in which I use a range of questioning techniques to extract the information I need from the students, and providing clear instructions and assessment criteria so that I am setting each and every student up for success.

I need to give instructions in a variety of forms to ensure success. For example, say them as well as write them on the board. Pre-empting students’ questions is a difficult task, however by having a sound knowledge base and maintaining flexibility all lessons should run as smoothly as possible. An important facet of preparing yourself for answering questions is preparing yourself for the fact that you might have to tell students that you in fact do not know the answer... but the most important thing is that you take the time to find out and let them know as soon as possible. This shows the students that you care and value their individual learning. By admitting that you are not the 'all-knowing' teacher, it shows the students that everyone in the classroom is learning, which is vital to class morale.

I will focus on giving clear instructions ahead of time and pre-empting student questions so that I have all the resources and information I need for a successful lesson. I will also focus on explicitly teaching groupwork strategies, so that I will be able to implement effective groupwork and cooperative learning in my classroom (even in a difficult class). Thus far, I have been limited to what groupwork I can do, due to the size and nature of the class. I will steer away from using the traditional forms of comprehension questions given in English which are often implemented school wide as a unit of work, and work towards making the questioning illicit higher order thinking among students.

I believe that communication is the key to effective learning in the classroom. I believe that students will endeavor to reach high expectations if that is what you expect them to achieve. It is important to communicate to students that all learning is important for them as individuals and that the assessments given actually test what they have learned. Students need to believe that you genuinely care about them as individuals and about their learning. This will not automatically happen... teachers need to put in the time to get to know their students and how they learn. I share beliefs with Dufficy (2005), when he expresses a concern for the regression of education from progressive high quality education, like that which is modelled in Ireland (in which students are required to be the major contributors in classroom communication) to teacher dominated talk that is present in so many classrooms. I believe teaching needs to be based upon constructivist principles as opposed to simple knowledge transmission, and this begins by giving students autonomy in their classroom.  

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