I always knew I had the most fabulous students ever, but when I got the following from one of my students, I was completely blown away. Make sure to read the spelling of ‘beliebing’ lol
I am the eternal cat lady – pictures of my cats have been known to find their way into my slides…
This one is for the day I completely fainted from heat exhaustion before 9:30am – luckily my fabulous students more more than keen to try out their first aid qualifications!
I am still blown away by these gifts. Most thoughtful gift ever, I think!
Well here I am in my second term of teaching and while it hasn’t always been easy (who am I kidding – it has sometimes been very difficult!) I have recently taken some time to reflect on just how much I love my job.
Reason #1: all the beyond wonderful students that you meet. There are just so many students who just blow you away with their attitude and maturity. Notice I don’t say with their academic capability – there are plenty of those too but the ones that really astonish me and make teaching beyond worthwhile are the ones who are the truly fabulous human beings.
Reason #2: All the new stuff I am learning. Every day I learn something new, even though I might not realise at the time. I was so astonished and excited to realise last week that I have improved since last term. This excites me. It isn’t a massive improvement and I still have a long way to go by any means but it’s good to know that progress is being made, and I love that I have a job that is all about personal growth as well as helping others towards their own personal growth. And I think that’s why teachers stay teaching for so long (in many cases anyway!) – they enjoy making and seeing progress. It’s not just a case of mastering a single skill or set of skills and that’s you’re entire job – it’s new and challenging and fabulous every day.
Reason #3: The fabulous colleagues and other professionals you meet. There isn’t a single person I have met that I haven’t learned something from. Some are truly outstanding and inspiring – from the colleagues that are exemplary teachers and who exhibit the best classroom management techniques, the colleages that come up with the fabulous and inspiring lesson plans and ideas, the colleagues that make learning fun, and the ones that somehow find time in their busy life to make a chocolate cheesecake. AND share it. Yummo.
With school starting up again soon, I have started to think about what exactly I want for my students in the new school year. What do I want them to get from their schooling experience? And what do I want my classroom to look like – me talking and doing all the work, or them actually engaged and making an effort in the learning process?
The issue of needing students to become independent learners was particularly prevalent in my second placement, where I was teaching a class of Year 7 students. Some of the girls were having trouble understanding the concept, and hence, working out the answer to the problem. So their solution was to bug the teacher for the answer. I tried explaining it to them as best I could, but as I was feeling under pressure to attend to 25 students at once as well as to cover the unit, I *may have* cut corners in my explanation. Their response? ‘Miss, you’re not supposed to tell us the answer!’
What did I learn from that experience? Firstly, students want to learn. Providing their basic needs have been met, they actually come to school engaged and motivated, expecting to learn. We cannot crush that. And secondly, in order not to crush their natural enthusiasm for learning, we have to engage them from the beginning. This means that from Day 1 of Year 7, students must be encouraged to find answers for themselves, and perhaps more importantly, think of new questions.
Imagine if your students still couldn’t think for themselves by the time they reach Year 12? How would they survive in the real world?
It might take a little extra effort and planning at the beginning, but planning lessons that encourage students to be independent learners and thinkers is easier and better for both you and your students in the long run.
In traditional education settings, we focus on answers. But what we probably should focus on is how a student behaves when they don’t know the answer.
I was listening to ABC Classic FM in the car yesterday, and there was a piece that was really bugging me, because I couldn’t for the life of me find the beat! Every time I thought I had it, I knew immediately I was wrong. By the time the piece was over I had worked it out though (with much concentration and effort!) – it was in 15/8! Fifteen quavers to a bar!
That made me realise that now I know how my students who struggle with rhythm and aural skills feel! So I then spent some time reflecting on how I would help explain to these students how to identify a time signature in an unknown piece of music, as well as what strategies I would provide to them.
Most teachers think they know their subject. I know I did. But what I have discovered during my prac placements is that I have great potential to be able to explain my subject effectively, but just because I know something to be true doesn’t mean I can explain it to each of my students (who might all need different information in order to glean their own understanding) or provide pertinent examples to them at the drop of a hat.
So, this summer will be spent revising and collecting a wide variety of examples, with the aim of being well prepared for the new year.
One final thought – I have also realised that many students know, accept and expect that their teachers know how to teach – it is the subject matter knowledge that they sometimes doubt that their teacher(s) have. There are various reasons for this, including outside tuition in specialist areas like music, however we are doing our students are disservice if our ability to convey our knowledge effectively is not up to scratch.
Don’t try to manage 100 things at once as they are happening. Stop and start again if necessary.
Have a backup plan.
Plan for the worst case scenario.
Build classroom management into the lesson content and structure.
Teach behaviour explicitly if necessary. Who am I kidding – teach it anyway.
Always reflect – its the only way to improve your teaching.
From my experience on prac, I cannot emphasise the importance of routines and consistency enough. Having a routine for entering and exiting the classroom is particularly important, because students will know what to expect, and hence know when they have done the wrong thing. It also helps prevent potential behaviour management issues for the same reason. If you explicitly teach the rules and routines to the students, you are teaching them how to behave appropriately. It helps enormously if the entire school has the same routines for students in every class and with every teacher, but where this isn’t possible, you can at least implement one in your own classroom for the benefit of yourself and your students.
A possible routine for entry could be students are to get their book (for the lesson), pens and school diary out before they come into the classroom. This essentially means that they are to enter the room prepared to learn – if they have the correct equipment, they should be more likely to enter the room in the right frame of mind. Hopefully.
A possible routine for exit could be chairs behind desks, and stand behind chairs. This should include a general tidy up of the classroom as a courtesy to the next class, and to emphasise the importance of taking pride in their school.
Why is this so important? As teachers, it is crucial that you are seen by your students as being impartial and fair. If you change the routine or change the rules every time you see your class, they will not know what to expect, and they will not have appropriate rules and behaviour routines reinforced. And even more importantly, you need to be consistent and fair with each and every student. Treating a student in a manner that can be correctly perceived as unfair by another student will simply teach that student that there is no point behaving appropriately, or there is no point putting in the effort to learn or complete their classwork.
Remember – students always notice what you don’t want them to notice, remember what you don’t want them to remember, and don’t remember the stuff you do want them to remember! So behave transparently at all times!