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 learning.
4.1.3 Listen to students and engage them in classroom discussion.
4.1.4 Use student group structures as appropriate to address teaching and learning goals.
4.1.5 Use a range of teaching strategies and resources including ICT and other technologies to foster interest and support learning
I believe that by communicating effectively, it allows teachers to develop a relationship with their students, which will enable them to understand each learner and therefore plan lessons that cater to their needs.
I believe in order to communicate effectively with students, teachers need to make their learning programs explicit, focus on making the learning content and goals purposeful and relevant to students, build rapport, and support each students’ learning. Students should also be engaged in the planning process of their learning. This involves them in the process of “self-regulated learning” which in turn offers them responsibility and ownership of their education (Wehmeyer & Lawrence, 1995).
I also believe by providing and managing opportunities for discussion and group activities, it will allow students to actively explore ideas and develop their knowledge and skills not only through talk, but also through social interaction. Children’s exposure to different perspectives forces them to defend, justify, modify, concede or relinquish their position. This in turn encourages students to challenge each individual to progress in their understanding (McInerney & McInerney, 2006, pp.50). It is through the sharing of ideas and experiences that allows students to reflect and expand their knowledge. The teacher’s questioning skills can also enable students’ prior knowledge and understanding to be elicited during discussions.
I have in my past professional experiences, incorporated group work where I believed it was suitable and would maximise and benefit students’ learning. An example of this includes the ‘Mini-beast’ Nature Walk lesson (Appendix 3). I had students work in groups to investigate and discover the different types of insects that inhabited the school playground. Each student was allocated a role within their group and was in charge of carrying out a certain task. This increased student participation and contribution, and I believe as a result, improved students’ confidence as it made them feel important as they were all involved in conducting the investigation. The task also allowed students to discuss and make joint decisions such as which part of the playground to explore. John Dewey also believed group investigations allowed students to have some responsibility for directing and influencing their learning, as well as a sense of belonging to social groups while retaining their individuality (McInerney & McInerney, 2006, pp.295).
In past professional experiences, I have incorporated many class discussions to introduce or begin the lesson (Appendix 3). My questioning skills not only spark curiosity, but it also allows me to elicit students’ prior knowledge and understanding of the intended content that is to be taught. To maximise participation by all students, I direct my questions strategically based on my understanding of their learning capabilities. For example, I might ask lower order thinking questions to students whom have learning difficulties, and higher order questions to the more capable students. If a student is having trouble grasping a concept, I will use various questioning techniques to support their learning e.g. questions that have clues and hints embedded within.
I have also designed and conducted a diagnostic interview that was used to assess a Stage 3 student on his knowledge and understanding of fractions (Appendix 4). The interview incorporated a range of questioning techniques such as practical tasks, drawn and verbal responses, and closed and open-ended questions. Depending on the type of question, I was able to gather, interpret and analyse information that effectively allowed me to plan lessons that catered and fostered his abilities. As Good and Brophy (1990) pointed out, effective teachers carefully plan sequences of questions in order to achieve particular objectives (McInerney & McInerney, 2006, pp.13).
I am currently undertaking a subject (ICT in Primary Classrooms) that has allowed me to develop my knowledge of various ICT tools and resources that can be used to foster and support learning. Just recently, I designed my own Interactive Whiteboard resource that can be in conjunction with the HSIE COGS unit of work titled ‘Living Land’. The resource basically scaffolds students’ understanding of the environmental issues that surround tourism at the Kosciuszko National Park. The IWB resource incorporates sound, images, text and hands on activities, which as a result, accommodate to visual, audio and kinaesthetic learners.
McInerney, D. and McInerney, V. (2006). Educational Psychology: Constructing Learning. Sydney: Pearson Education Australia.
Wehmeyer & Lawrence. (1995). Whose future is it anyway? Promoting student involvement in transition planning. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals 18(1), 69-83.