What my students say about me.

One of the most useful things I did on my first practicum is invite my students to complete a Survey Monkey about my teaching methods. I used the AITSL standards as a basis for my questions and tried to keep it nice and sweet. For each question it was a Yes or No with an option to leave a comment. The questions I asked my students were:

1) Did you feel like you knew the purpose of the Facebook get to know you activity?

2) Do you feel like I challenge you enough in class?

3) Do you feel like you can ask me questions in class?

4) Do you feel like I explain things well?

5) Do you feel like you learn in my classes?

6) Do you feel like the class environment is well managed?

7) Do you feel like I give you enough feedback on whether you are achieving the learning outcomes of my lessons?

8) What do I do in class that you like? Or what would you like to see What do I do in class that you don’t like?more of?

9) What do I do in class that you don’t like?

Obviously I kept it anonymous. However, I wanted to bribe my students to do it with candy so I added a second page that they could screen shot to show me that they did the survey. Side note – I would never give out candy as reward for doing class work. That should be a reward in itself. *off my soap box now*

You can view the results of the survey.

There are some things that arise from this survey

  • students felt that they knew the purpose of the get to know you activity however some questions were irrelevant
  • I don’t challenge my students enough. They feel like I’m just cruising them through on the bare minimum that they need to know. This has a lot to do with my inexperience at differentiating lessons. I don’t go into enough depth with the content sometimes.
  • I encourage students to ask questions in my class and I’m approachable
  • I explain concepts well but sometimes I go too fast. Using different methods to get my point across e.g. videos helps my students to understand better. The use of analogies was very helpful in explaining difficult concepts.
  • I try to explain things a number of times to ensure that my students understand.
  • Students need more guidance as to what to write down.
  • I don’t give my students nearly enough feedback on whether they are achieving learning outcomes.
  • Students overall liked: animated descriptions, humour in class, mini-whiteboards, videos, class discussions, guided note taking, practicals, fun facts, the questioning methods I use.
  • Students didn’t like: comprehension worksheets, that I didn’t challenge them enough, when I explained things too quickly, too much information, not revising previous lesson or outlining learning goals.
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What makes a good teacher?

  1. Patience: teachers need to give each student a fresh chance every single day. Teachers also have to be patient when explaining concepts to their students and try to explain it in different ways.
  2. Organisation: There is nothing worse than a teacher who is unorganised, because it gets transferred to your students. Similarly,
  3. Passionate: Teachers who are passionate transfer this passion to their students. They want to know why you think your subject is so amazing.
  4. Are firm but fair: They are compassionate and try to understand their students but lay down the law when needed.
  5. Have high expectations of their students: They will meet whatever expectations you set them.
  6. Model a love of learning: They seek new ideas and ways of doing things and don’t do the same thing year in year out.
  7.  Good communicators: They build networks with other teachers, they ask and seek advice.
  8. Ask the good questions: They help their students become critical, self sufficient thinkers.
  9. Plan activities that meet students needs with FUN at the core of them.
  10. Reflective: On their own teaching practices.
  11. Engage their students: by making it relevant to them.
  12. Have routines for what goes on in the classroom
  13. Timing of lesson is well thought out.
  14. Assess their students constantly and use this to inform (a) future teaching of this class (b) teaching the same topic to future classes. It’s not good enough to just teach the content. You need to know that your students know the content.
  15. Fantastic pitcher: So that the questions or activities that you ask of your students are just beyond what they are capable of doing comfortably now. You want them just outside their comfort zone.
  16. Approachable: You want your students to feel like they can ask you questions and not be ridiculed.
  17. Clearly outlines the aims of the lesson: The worst question your student can have at the end of the lesson is “So…what were we supposed to learn then?”. Make it super clear.

 

Teaching Philosophy

Extremely passionate about education, my main drive is ensuring the spark of natural curiosity that we all have as children isn’t lost throughout schooling but encouraged and ignited. I want to foster a lifelong love of learning in my students and show them how enchanting science truly is. I intend to instill a sense of pride in students’ learning to constantly push them towards their personal best. With my support and guidance they will become critical thinkers, who engage with their learning and one another. We will achieve this through problem solving, meaningful assessments and collaborative small group work. As a great deal of effective student learning comes from organisation and routine, my ideal school will allow me to have my own classroom and focus on engaging students through the curriculum.

My First Practicum

My prac experience was as others before me and after me will also say a real learning curve. My major lesson was how explicit I need to be when giving instructions and asking questions. I became very self-sufficient in my prac and one of the most useful things I did was ask students for feedback on my own teaching. They have a surprising level of metacognitive ability – they know what they like! And they are a resource just waiting to be tapped into. Things I’d do differently:

  • start with clear expectations of behaviour and outline these. No matter how silly you might think it is you need to be explicit!
  • don’t change too much: 2 or 3 things that you do should be different to their normal teacher. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel cause they’ll get confused and that’s not good for anyone.
  • Try to learn their names ASAP but change the format of the Facebook Get to Know you Profile
  • Hilight the standards for my Supervising Teacher every lesson so that I’d get more meaningful feedback and they wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed.

What feedback I gained from my students or observing other more experienced teachers, I’ve added to my growing list of What Makes a Good Teacher? 

Big History at Vivid Ideas

bhp_life_on_earth

This was a lecture and Q&A session at MCA Sydney on a wet Sunday morning. I was really keen to see what David Christian had to say because I too believe that education should be taught more holistically and not segmented into little chunks. How can students possibly become lateral thinkers if we teach them that this is chemistry and this is biology and that that over there is history and that they have nothing to do with one another. It’s simply not going to happen! And unfortunately that’s not good enough because our world requires lateral thinking. We need to amalgamate information into coherent sequences and we need to know that it’s okay to mixup different faculties.

David Christian with sponsorship by Bill Gates has developed an online curriculum called Big History. What this is is basically a history of time from the Big Bang up until now condensed into a 10 week course. Pretty neat huh? I love this idea. Why do we have to teach students about all the nitty gritty details. Let’s teach them the BIG PICTURE. It’s the most important thing. Those nitty gritty details, in our current age we don’t need to memorise them. That’s not 21st century thinking. We have all that knowledge indispensable to us at our fingertips. We are faced with far bigger challenges that simply memorisation. We need to be able to synthesise and create. Let’s give our students an opportunity to do THAT. It was a really inspiring talk.

David talked about how we give up on asking the big questions at school because getting through the curriculum simply doesn’t allow for it. How wrong this is! We are literally asking our students to stop asking important questions. Imagine if a student asked you what the purpose of life was in class. I can almost guarantee you that you would not indulge them.

His presentation made me think of a fantastic book that I own called “A short history of nearly everything” by Bill Bryson. It also aims to talk about everything in one novel and does justice to every crucial event throughout history.

To find out more: https://course.bighistoryproject.com/bhplive