Essential Teaching Skills – Chapter 5

Classroom Climate

Positive Classroom Climate

Key items for establishing a good classroom climate are;

To be Purposed and Task Orientated

 

A business like classroom maintains the glow and focus of the lesson, whilst ensuring that all parties know what actions are needed via the clear and concise initial exposition. Opportunities for learning should be presented well, as these provide a high emotional risk. Positive encouragement should be forthcoming within the environment to help compensate for this.

To be Relaxed, Warm and Supportive

The relaxed nature within the classroom comes from the existing positive relationship that exists between teacher and students.  Warmth, in tern,  is shown by the care you give to the class, through actions and nonverbal communication. To support students you should encourage students to do everything in their power to meet the demands. Ensuring that students are only helped after a suitable amount of independent time has passed.

To have Order

Order is gained by establishing a rules orientated lesson, including meeting the students at the classroom door to ensure orderly entry. Order can be maintained by ensuring appropriate thought has been given to the lesson planning and that the presentation is relevant enough to keep the student’s interest.

Motivating Pupils

Intrinsic Motivation – From the pupils curiosity and questioning nature to learn. T his type of motivation is best when using a choice of task, as this will ensure active involvement and participation. Cooperation is developed by seeking and utilising feedback on the learning activity or task.

Extrinsic Motivation – From the reward of completing task, due to either short or long-term rewards. This motivation in built from linking the effort that student puts in to the resulting success. Balance should be given to the rewards, for risk of alienating unsuccessful students.

Expectations of Success – Based on how likely the student feels that they are to succeed. If the task is too difficult they wont attempt it, through risk of failing. Challenging tasks should be used, but with a realistic chance of success or completion. The explanation of the task should be complete, so that students have all the tools that they need to carry out the task, giving ownership of the task to the student. A teachers expectation can be used show their confidence in the student, giving encouragement should there be any miss-steps in the path.

Mutual Respect and Rapport

Respect is shown when teachers action demonstrate competence, care and effectiveness during the lessons. Rapport come from genuine interest in individual students and empathy with their perspectives. Both are linked to the students pastoral care.

Respect can also be show by setting a good example, such as ensuring neat work on the board when demanding neat work from the students.

Using Humour

Sometimes humour can be used within the classroom, however it is important to ensure that no students are going to become upset at this. Humour is best used sparingly  an at ones own expense, it can be a great aid in developing rapport. It can be also good at defusing situations and reassuring students.

Improving Student Self-esteem

Along with subject content, teachers also need to be aware of students pastoral needs. This is often referred to the ‘hidden’ curriculum and includes experiences  and feelings. To develop self-esteem teachers should try to shift the emphasis of success, in a similar manner of providing support when students are struggling. Another key aspect is to ensure that students aren’t compared to one another.

This awareness of ‘person’ is often referred to as a humanistic approach to teaching, considering the personal growth of the whole student, rather than just their subject related items. Student teachers often enter with this approach and find it very difficult to sustain the ideal further into teaching.

Positive Messages

This includes feedback on student work encouraging involvement and increasing self-esteem. Body language also is a key aspect of communication, ensuring that the content of the vocal message and tone or body language match is key to encouraging students. Rephrasing or refocusing feedback from a negative aspect to a piece of advice helps with supportive responses.

General Appearance

Classroom appearance can give a great deal of support to students, a generally neat and tidy environment is one way of showing that the teacher cares about the student and creates positive expectations. Displays of student work can convey to students that their teacher has pride in their work, thus encourages the students.

The layout of the classroom can help with deciding on the general learning activities, as more open classroom can encourage whole class discussion whilst a grouped table layout can be more conducive to group work. Establishing a standard or average teaching style can save time, as rearranging the room is not required.

Teacher self presentation can also have a large impact on pupils, showing that care and attention is given to presentation can encourage student presentation. Appropriate dress in relation to the establishment demonstrates the respect for the school, from the teacher. This can be helpful when dealing with behaviour issues related to dress. Ensuring that you, as a teacher, are prepared for the lesson is also a means of setting a good example to the students.

Composition of the Class

The classroom climate can also be effected by the students within it, for example classes can be set, mixed ability or streamed. Setting and streaming are different options to separate students by ability. Setting is dependant on the subject, for example having science sets and mixed other lessons. Streaming is where the students are taught all lessons within the same ability range.

Both of these can have a negative impact on students in the lower groupings, as they have negative expectations of their own ability. Mixed ability shows that all students are cared for equally, and also helps with administration within the timetable. Learning activities can and should depend highly on how the class is set up.

Procrastination

Photo by tu tu on Unsplash

Well, I think I have literally done everything else I can before starting the essays for part of my SCITT course. I have:

  • Painted the kitchen,
  • Cleaned and reorganised the lounge,
  • Sorted out the bedroom,
  • Sorted out the main room,

Now its time to knuckle down and start the proper work…

See what follows.

Essential Teaching Skills – Chapter 4

Lesson Management

Kyriacou (2007) likens managing a lesson to plate spinning, keeping all the students involved in the learning activities, making decisions about timings, initiating the movement of the lesson and running the administration of the lesson. This relies on a positive mental state, the confidence mentioned in Chapter 2.

Start at the Very Beginning

It all starts with the composition of the start of the lesson. Establishing routines, such as classroom entry, will allow smooth transitions later on. Getting the attention ready for an exposition will ensure that all the students are suitable interested. Setting up the learning objectives, or establishing the learning activities, at the start of the lesson can help student understand what is expected of them and settle into the flow of the lesson.

Smooth Transitions

Not everything needs to run to the train schedule, so a lesson shouldn’t either. Should a learning activity be going well, but be taking longer than expected, more time should be allocated. Similarly should the entire class be interrupted to add to the exposition which may only affect a couple of students. Keeping the flow of a lesson and maintaining momentum helps with behaviour management, as the students can see that they are being lead by a competent teacher.

Endings

Planning for the end of a lesson is also important to remember, items such as setting home work, collecting books and saving work can cause issues and distractions to the focus of the class if not considered prior.

Other things to consider

Monitoring Progress

Monitoring process will allow for an idea of the pace with which the lesson should progress.

Overlapping Skills

Remaining aware of the whole class, whilst dealing with individuals or smaller issues, can be key when managing behaviour. The ability to be fully invested in some individual tutoring whilst also telling another child that you are aware of their misbehaviour is know as ‘overlapping’.

‘Withitness’

This is the ability to pick up on small signs as to student’s moods and so advanced signs of misbehaviour. This ability to read the room could feedback into setting the pace for aspects of the lesson. Individual and group issues could be flagged using this method, including:

  • Friendship group issues
  • Family/Home problems
  • Illness
  • Environmental factors
    • Previous lessons
    • Weather conditions

Supporting Feedback

Feedback should always focus on the problems or issues that the student is experience, rather than the poor work ethic of the students. This counselling will show that you are invested in the progress of the student and that their effort is worthwhile. This subconscious feedback increases motivation and such, the effort the student puts into their work.

Ensure that verbal feedback is given privately and in a sympathetic tone. Rephrase to put emphasis on task to shift blame.

Other forms of feedback, rather than traditional student-teacher communication, can be used. Self and peer assessments can be used, as well as automated systems.

Managing Students

Student Pacing

Lessons can shift in timescales through many issues methods, such as reflection-in-action, can be used to adjust the plan within the time. Student progress through the tasks can be estimated by teacher’s knowledge of the pace of students within the class. Should the faster students rush through the work, it is likely that most of the students will complete it, however if they are taking longer than expected the level of work (or expectation of work) may be over pitched and so the lesson plan will need to be adjusted.

Group work

Planning should be given if group work is to be used. Setting expectations at the introduction, such as friends working together (or not), establishing the numbers within the groups and if ‘roles’ will be utilised can often work best. Due to the possibly unusual learning activity students often miss what the task is in an effort to get into a group with their friends. Establishing information needed before students are allowed to get into their groups will ensure that problems are minimised.

Movement and Noise

As with group work, student movement is sometimes an unusual activity within some classrooms and so needs some planning. Rules need to be established for general lessons, such as only a certain number of students to be out of their seats, at the printer or waiting to see the teacher. Unusual learning activities that require more space could be organised early on in the lesson, and planned accordingly.

Engaged students are often excited about the subject and so create some noise. This can be increased by student movement, getting into groups or when in excited discussion. Controlling this level should be phrased as advice, rather than statement, to give students a frame of reference for the noise they should be making.

Essential Teaching Skills – Chapter 3

Photo by Jonathan Simcoe on Unsplash

Lesson Presentation

Confidence

A teachers manner needs to exude confidence, even if they don’t have too much at the beginning of their career. This ‘fake it till you make it’ approach will allow for confidence to be developed. This can help when demanding attention in the teacher talk activities to ensure that students give their full attention.

Being able and willing to control the room is important when organising learning activities. It is useful to use techniques such as scaffolding, where an overview of the lesson is given, to ensure students know the process of the lesson. Having the confidence to stand in front of 30-40 people and give clear, concise examples and instructions is the bread and butter of a teachers day.

Questioning Techniques

·         Use open complex questions.

o   Not allowing for a simple yes or no answer.

o   Probing into deeper understanding.

·         Pose, pause, pounce.

·         Negative responses can be utilised to show reasoning.

·         Using suitable wording.

Academic Tasks

Such as worksheets, practices, problem solving tasks, group/pair work.

·         Setup for task is suitable.

o   Previous learning completed?

·         Accessible for the students.

o   Is it pitched correctly?

·         Not assuming knowledge or experience.

·         Students aware of the ‘rules’ for that activity.

Active Learning

Ownership of learning is given to the students so that they become more stimulated and engaged with the work. These tasks are best when goal orientated and can allow for more skills and knowledge to be obtained.

Students can often enjoy this style of learning activity, which can be extended for more than one lesson and often aligns itself to project work.

Teaching and Learning Styles

Teaching styles are the types of learning activities generally employed, often teachers can fall into a preferred patter. Learning styles relate to the preference of the students, in both activities and style.

Matching the learning activity to the learning style is good, but extending the students experiences is positive too. This will develop the student’s skills. The ability of the students should be considered before this extension, challenge is good but it can go too far.

Personalised Learning

Matching the work means that the students feel more involved in their learning activities, this can be allowing their own topics to be chosen when creating a newsletter (when the skill of Publishing is the learning objective).

Mechanism from the school can help with some personalisation of learning, ‘setting’ classes by ability for different subject or ‘streaming’ where this is done by ability in general, are options to be used. Mixed ability classes tend to be taught in the middle of their ability scale, leading to the bright students becoming bored and the lower ability ones being left behind.

Differentiation

There are some different styles of differentiation, depending on the learning activity. These can be:

·         Task Based – Same content covered at different levels.

·         Outcome Based – Same content and task, but is open so different students can access this.

·         Learning Activity – Same tasks at the same level, but delivered in a different way.

·         Pace – Same content at the same level but at a different pace.

·         Dialogue – teacher becomes involved to tailor the work.

·         Support – Less support means that the students has more challenge, so can show their initiative.

·         Resource Based – Types of items used altered to match ability/skill level.

Differentiation means that all students within the lesson can get the most out of it. SEND students often need to be consciously considered in the planning stage.

Skilful Matching

Throughout the lesson teachers use monitoring to adjust the techniques used. Some students are less likely to confess any difficulties that they have so questioning techniques need to be considered as a good means of checking reasoning too.

Keeping high expectations of work to be completed means that the student always strive to complete this work, going beyond their comfort zone. The expectation shouldn’t be too far beyond them, so that they are not discouraged or disheartened if they don’t make it to that ‘rung’.

‘One rung more’ to be encouraged.

Tutoring

One-to-one time helps students with their assessment and the personalisation of the learning. This can be done alongside an independent task. Scaffolding is a means of directing students to a helpful element that will enable them to complete the task, or to continue with another part of their work. As well as the student-teacher dynamic, peer-assessment is an effective means of encouragement.

Brain, Book, Buddy, Boss

Resources

High quality resources inspire confidence, however they need to be related to the learning activity. Low quality resource can be used but these MUST be completely linked to learning. The relevance of the resource far outweighs the quality. These must be completely check through, especially if they were created some time before or by another, so that the teacher is fully prepared for the lesson.

Board and Projector

Arguable the icon for the teacher, these resources are incredibly useful as they are so adaptive to the situation that you’re in. However things to remember when using these include:

·         Talking away from the board, especially when giving instructions.

·         Blocking the view of this when talking (especially in longer exposition or when a task had been started by some).

·         Being aware of behaviour when facing away from the board.

Essential Teaching Skills – Chapter 2

As I eluded to in my earlier post, Essential Teaching Skills Review, I continued through the book making notes as I went. These are the notes, split by chapter.


Planning and Preparation

The Essential Aspects

  • Objectives
    • Can be broad or small-scale.
    • Showing progression.
    • Including Literacy, Numeracy and ICT.
  • Scripting
    • Thinking about the sequence of learning activities.
  • Props
    • Include a range of methods.
  • Monitoring
  • Recapping and checking prior knowledge/learning.

Importance of Planning

  1. Think about the type of learning.
  2. Consider the structure.
  3. Reduces thinking in the lesson.
  4. Proper preparation prevents poor performance.
  5. Future planning is easier.

Structured Learning Techniques

Selection is based upon the teachers previous experience of techniques. These activities should:

  • Meet the needs of the learners.
    • Abilities.
    • Interests.
    • Motivation.
  • Consider the timing of the lesson/activity.
  • Have your time/focus to complete.

Variety of learning activities should be considered, both to aid the learners (as some may respond differently) and to improve the completion of these, from the teachers experience. ICT should be used with confidence as it can offer a higher quality of learning. Thorough consideration should be given to continual assessment of student progress.

The 7 P’s

Ensuring that the lessons are properly prepared not only makes a teachers life easier, it shows the students that the teacher cares about their learning. Using methods such as rehearsal, checking materials and record keeping means that this care and attention to the lesson is presented to students.