Element 2: Teachers know their students and how they learn
The importance of planning for different learning styles has become apparent during various practicum placements. Background, age, prior-knowledge and level of social and emotional development play a part in how students approach learning. During my first year practicum I created a maths lesson that attempted to cater for all students by incorporating Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences and observed learning approaches (appendix 1) Students worked in small groups and on various activities that used concrete materials, required workbook activities, visual cues (appendix 2) and question-led discussion. Students were encouraged to self regulate and move between groups to enhance their understanding of the concept of ‘making 10’.
During my second practicum, I was involved with a unit of work on Simple Machines (appendix 3). I worked collaboratively with two grade teachers to develop and implement learning sequences based on syllabus and developmental requirements. A pre-test was conducted to determine prior-knowledge (appendix 4), and this was used as a basis for future lessons. Students were presented with tasks that involved investigation (using books, internet sites and an excursion), designing and making, art-based responses and written work (reports and poems). Students worked in groups (both independently organised and pre-planned) and individually to complete tasks. Throughout the unit, students were asked to use the appropriate metalanguage to integrate new knowledge with prior knowledge. Students were encouraged to use both known and unfamiliar tools to demonstrate their understanding of simple machines.
During my time on practicum, and through the course of my degree, I have been exposed to both research and real-life examples of how the social, ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds of students may affect learning. During prac I have met with teachers and relevant support staff to ensure that I have an insight to the backgrounds of students, and have ensured that I am aware of any resulting issues or sensitivities. However, I feel that I need more classroom exposure in order to plan for and meet the needs of these students. During the course of the year, both my practicum and my internship will require me to work with Indigenous children, and children from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
More classroom exposure in order to plan for and meet the needs of students with specific needs, especially in the area of literacy
To be aware of specific strategies for meeting the needs of Indigenous children, children from non-English speaking background, children with special needs, and students with challenging behaviours
To work with Indigenous children, and children from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, during my fourth year placement and internship
To work closely with teaching and support staff, and learn to focus my lessons so that they teach explicitly to the needs of these students.
To plan sessions according to the specific needs of students and learn to use a range of literacy resources.
Specific strategies for working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
A better understanding of literacy strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
My elected unit, Koori Kids in the Classroom, focuses on best practice for the teaching of Indigenous students.
Research the following:
- Aboriginal Education and Training Policy (DET)
- Dare to Lead (DET)
- Aboriginal Literacy Resource Kit (Aboriginal Curriculum Unit)
During my third year of university, I spent 20 hours in two different schools observing strategies for teaching children with special needs. While I encountered many different approaches for a variety of student needs, I feel that I need more practical experience in this area.
Research the following:
- Literacy For Students Experiencing Learning Difficulties (BOS)
- Disability Standards for Education (Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations)
- Assisting Students with Learning difficulties (DET)
To revise and research syllabus and policy requirements to ensure that I am aware of my responsibilities in this area.
To maintain an awareness of current research and strategies for working with NESB students
Work closely with school support staff while on practicum
Research the following:
English as a second language: Guidelines for schools
Paul Dufficy ‘Designing learning for Diverse Classrooms’
While I have always attempted to manage challenging behaviours through engaging and relevant lessons, and through using various resources and approaches, I feel that I am lacking in confidence. As a student teacher it is often hard to find and execute your own approach, as you are a guest in another teachers classroom. During my internship, I hope to build my confidence and strengthen my approach for dealing with challenging behaviours.
In the book Inclusive Classrooms, Robert Conway describes classrooms as ecosystems. He states that a good teacher must know the dynamics of the space, and how each student fits within that space. I believe that these dynamics are fluid and are influenced by resources, instruction, student factors and the physical and emotional setting. Inclusive classrooms cater to the needs of all students, and while I am a little daunted by the thought of a challenging classroom, I believe that it will ultimately benefit me as a teacher. Professional development, flexibility and resourcefulness are required if teachers are to be effective in dealing with diverse needs. Teachers are privileged in that they witness and take part in the social and intellectual development of their students. Good teachers are aware of these developments and plan accordingly. I believe in a student centred approach to teaching and hope to create a democratic environment that caters to the needs of all students.