Element 4 Teachers communicate effectively with their students
I believe it is crucial for teachers to implement a range of strategies and techniques to communicate well with their students. For example, as teachers, if we are clear with where the lesson is going, students will be able to recognise the purpose of certain activities and are thus more likely to participate. I believe strategies such as questioning and classroom discussion, if purposefully planned and relevant, can engage, support and challenge a student's understanding of lesson content more effectively than teacher centred instruction and worksheets. I also believe that, when suitable, the implementation of a variety of group structures can address learning goals more comprehensively, as students work together to construct an often deeper and more relevant understanding of lesson content. Subsequently, I believe these previously mentioned strategies and techniques can be supported through the appropriate use of a variety of teaching strategies, resources and ICT, thus making the students' educational experience accessible, engaging and informative.
In all my lessons, I have outlined clear directions to students about learning goals so that they were aware of the purpose of the lesson and why they were engaging in specific activities. For example, in Appendix B, in the introduction of the lesson I told the students the focus of the lesson and how the content was an extension on what they had learnt in previous lessons (see Appendix O). This made the students aware of what they were going to learn and why it was important to them. In such lessons, I involved strategies such as planned questioning and class discussion to elicit students’ prior knowledge and engage them in the lesson content at a deeper and more significant level (see Appendix C & P)(NSW DET, 2003, p. 11 & 15). I used these strategies to support student learning by using their responses to introduce and build on the content of the lesson.
When appropriate, I implemented a range of student group structures to address teaching and learning goals. Prior to employing these structures I had to discern whether or not they would impede or benefit student learning and social development. For example in a drama lesson, I organised students in small groups based on ‘home’ groups (Reid, 2002, p.35). Though students were able to complete the task required of them, some students felt excluded and therefore didn’t take risks in their learning. Upon reflection, I should have organised the students in random small groups that split up conflicting personalities and supported those who did not naturally “fit in”(see Appendix Q). From this experience I learnt how essential it is to plan how student groups are formed and seriously consider what affect it would have on student learning.
In all my lessons I have aimed to integrate a wide range of resources to foster interest and scaffold student learning. On my second practicum with kindergarten, when exploring the foundational elements of grammar, I regularly implemented activities that used familiar characters (see Appendix R). I did this because it was a useful tool in engaging students and helping them transfer knowledge from one lesson to the next. When teaching year 4 on my previous practicum, I found ICT a valuable means of engaging students in the lesson content and supporting their learning in a variety of lessons. One example of this can be seen in Appendix D, where I used a website to display a sequencing activity to engage students in the structure of an explanation. This same presentation was used to display a skeleton of an explanation, to support their construction of their own writing.
On my next practicum, I will aim to improve my questioning techniques to engage learners in deeper learning and challenge them to question the validity of what they know (NSW DET, 2003, p.11). I will also develop my repertoire of strategies used to elicit students’ knowledge on a topic and engage students in deeper and significant discussion. I will also plan to develop my understanding of the effectiveness of different grouping strategies and how they aim to develop students’ social skills. If available, I will investigate the use of the IWB as an effective tool in the classroom, and whether or not works to foster interest as well as support learning.
I need to do further research on effective questioning techniques, ways to engage students in valuable discussion and a range of grouping strategies. To achieve these goals, I need to do wider research, observe other professionals in action and participate in critical discussion with my colleagues. I need to record my findings in a database so that constantly refer to the strategies and refine my understanding of effective communication with my students. In terms of investigating the IWB as a successful learning tool, I need to become familiar with the capabilities of the technology and practice using it. Then I will need to implement what I have learnt in the context of the classroom and reflect on its effect on the learning experience of the students.
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
Reid, J. (2002). Managining small-group learning. Newtown: PETA