Week #2 as Master Teacher

Well I went from the ‘dream’ of writing a blog post every day, to the ‘reality’ of writing one a week …

Before I get to Week #2 though, I have to briefly say something about Week #1.

There really is something about watching a young pre-service teacher standing in front of one of your classes, delivering material that you helped her to prepare. In the early days it’s not the glorious ego-stroking moment you hope for (come on, secretly we all do). The reality is that you sit to the side (or at the back) amidst the students you have been standing in front of all year, and you see a perfect mirror of yourself. Instead of it being the image you create with hairbrush and eye-liner, it’s the one that haunts you first thing in the morning. The blotchy skin pale skin, deep brow wrinkles and drooping eyes … the look of panic as you know you’ve got too much to do and too little time. This is not a negative comment on my prac student at all. It was a wake up call to me. She was standing and delivering. The kids were listening (for the most part) and completing the worksheet set. They were successful in completing the work. But there was something lacking – ‘true’ engagement and the opportunity to actually ‘think’.

We were fortunate enough to be invited to visit the school of a twitter colleagues, Shany Hartley. At her school they are doing some remarkable and innovative things. It was a school, but not a school. Learning was happening, but traditional teaching practices were all but gone. We came away from our visit to this school full of excitement and ideas. What we clung to was the Blooms Revised Taxonomy Matrix. My prac student had dreams to create one for Year 8 and to implement the very next lesson. She started at the front, and chose (wisely) to move to the side.

Week #2 brought reality crashing down on us. The matrix was created (I even did one for my Year 11 class) and it was distributed to the students. The reaction was to be expected – confusion and some surprising resistance. The activities created had been wonderful – but the delivery of the concept – just WHY she believed this style of learning was going to benefit the students was not detailed. Once again, the underlying philosophy was ‘I want you to do this, so do it.’

This week we’ve had some wonderful discussions about teaching and why some lessons work and others don’t. The visit from my prac students ‘mentor’ was great also. All of the suggestions he made were ones I had made myself – have fun, get them to laugh, teaching is acting, outline learning outcomes explicitly, write the lesson plan on the board, check for learning at the end of the lesson.

One HUGE contribution made to MY teaching practice this week is the introduction of 5 mins reading at opening and closing of each lesson. First lesson of this a yr 10 girl said ‘I hate reading, it’s boring – there’s nothing good to read.’ I gave her a copy of ‘The Memory Daughters Keeper’. She asked to take it home over night – and returned it next morning telling me that she had actually read instead of spending time on facebook or MSN. Then she asked to take it home over the weekend.

Week #2 – success!

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3 thoughts on “Week #2 as Master Teacher

  1. Perhaps I live in fantasy land a little with my senior classes (I am choosing not to think about juniors at the moment) – but there does seem to be a payoff with a bit of ‘do it cause I said so’.

    Over time you build a relationship with the students. I have found that by the time they are in Year 12 they is enough trust between us that they do almost all tasks without question. They trust that the end result will make sense, and usually it does. Of course this takes time and effort – and many classes where the intent is clearly explained – but if that relationship can be built, it makes the teaching and learning so much easier.

    And that’s how I can show them films like Jahar Panahi’ “Offside” and link it to the topic at hand… and they get into it.

    • I think seniors are very different to juniors because, as you wisely pointed out, you have built a level of trust with them. This occurs over years of them being at school and knowing who you are, hearing about your style and maybe being in your class a couple of times between 7-10. I truly feel that you need to have open discussions with your students (esp. 7-10) about why you’re doing a certain activity or approaching a topic in a certain way. Kids want to learn. If you throw something different at them and don’t justify it, it could spell disaster for teacher and students.

      BUT – having said that, I too can chuck the unexpected at my seniors (and even juniors now cos I’m established at my school as the resident freak) and they go with it. My year 12 Standard kids LOVE William Blake – go figure!

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