Australian Curriculum

So today on prac I had an interesting discussion with my mentor teacher about the Australian Curriculum. This discussion all began because he was showing me the different elements involved in One School. For those that aren’t familiar with One School it is a website that all staff working in state schools across Queensland record information about students, locate different C2C lesson plans or unit plans, so on and so forth. Now while discussing this I asked why the C2C documents were created, and why these weren’t used in other states beside Queensland. He explained that the C2C documents were our interpretation of the national curriculum and that every state had their own view on what should be taught from it. Now to me this seems slightly bizarre as wasn’t the point of the national curriculum so students across Australia were taught the same content? Maybe that was just me. If you are wanting a closer look at the curriculum head to http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/

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Assignments will be the death of me

So now that I have finished prac I am able to refocus on completing the rest of my assessment pieces and I am not going to lie this does not please me one bit. The assignments that I have left are tedious at best, they have little relevance to the subject content and have absolutely worth to me as a pre-service teacher. There have been many times this semester when I have thought that it would be easier to just give up rather than carrying on and finishing my degree. Then I stop and think about all the hard work that I have already put in, all the tears that I have cried, all the lessons that I have created, lectures that I have attended and I think stuff it I am so close to the end that it is more effort to stop than it is to finish. Fingers crossed that I can actually finish all the assignments that I have left. I know that Anna has some interesting ideas about other factors to do with studying education.

Trying to make it perfect

On this prac my mentor teacher had me to a T: “When things go wrong, take a deep breath count to three Abi and start again.” I am not one that enjoys failing, quite frankly it is one of my biggest fears. Failure to me is not an option, but as I have learnt this prac it is inevitable at times. It is what you do after things go wrong however that demonstrates your ability to be an effective teacher.
I have had to accept that my lessons are not always going to go plan, they experimental; that the first round is a trial run, rather than the real thing. To deal with this idea the perfection is an unattainable goal, I have developed a few strategies post-lesson-snafu to keep my mind on improvement, rather than the imperfections.
1. Take a poll from the students. Before the students leave, either ask for a raise-the-hand poll or an exit pass where students vote on the part of the lesson that made the best sense, and the part they were most stumped by. You might find out your initial negative thoughts weren’t true; that there’s more to the story than just your own feelings. If you ask for evidence from the students to back up their opinions, areas in need of improvement may be better pin-pointed.
2. Check for consistency. Typically my issues with lessons are lack of consistency from previous lessons.  For example, as an English teacher, there are several words or phrases that can be used to identify the topic sentence of a paragraph.  In some cases, the topic sentence does more focusing on an argument or claim.  If I felt my students were confused by that portion of the lesson where I addressed the topic sentence, it is likely because I used different word choice than I have in the past.  It is important that there is consistency in the way things are described from lesson to lesson.  My example is a very small scale representation, but the idea is still there.  Maintain clarity by avoiding potentially confusing or non-specific word choice.  Be sure you know why you want to use particular word choice, and follow through with that word choice throughout your curriculum.
 
3. Determine if an applicable metaphor can be used.  It is possible someone else taught a similar lesson, or had a similar idea in which they used a metaphor to aide in the delivery of the lesson’s message.  The tricks to a metaphor is that they must be simple, directly related, and speak to the age group you teach.  This is a good place to look for visuals and share images, especially since today’s student lives in an image-driven world.  This may very well be the place to start for tomorrow’s lesson.
 
4.  Flip it and reverse it.  Many times my dislike for a lesson, or even for my students, comes from a boring factor. As I firmly believe in a student-centered learning style, where the teacher helps students develop an idea and let’s students take the ownership of their learning, typically the issue is in the presentation. An easy fix is to take the “final answer” or particular content being covered by the end of the lesson, and move it the front. Then develop a method for students to go about discovering, researching, developing, and communicating how you got to that “answer” or idea. Make the students the teacher, with your support from the side.
 
5. Make the changes immediately to improve pending lessons. There are various ways people reflect and record changes for the future.  I have been known to write myself notes, even leaving documents in folders on my computer labeled, “READ THIS BEFORE YOU START TEACHING!”  Of all of my methods, I find that taking the time to change my materials or lesson plan immediately makes the next day’s recovery lesson better before I even teach it. And there’s the obvious benefit for next year’s attempt at the same lesson.

The hardest part in a failed lesson is accepting you may have made a mistake in the planning.  Likely that is not the case.  Something slipped by you, and you discovered mid-lesson that you didn’t give it the weight it deserved.  That is why this perfectionist looks at new lessons as experimental, rather than the version that must be successful from the go.

Where to start

So for the last three weeks I have been developing lesson plans that are supposed incorporate ICT. The idea is that as teachers we have to understand how different resources are able to transform a student’s learning experience. However, what happens when 80% of the students being taught don’t speak English, 50% of those have never really had the opportunity to engage with ICTs of any form and the school itself has limited resources available. What then? Well, I will tell you what then… You wing it. You start at the end and work your way forwards. You look at who you are teaching and how you can create a lesson that is more engaging and interactive, one in which they take control of their own knowledge and understanding of the concept being taught. In my case it was about demonstrating how a skill should be performed and providing them with the opportunity and tools to analyse areas that they can improve their technique so that the next time they perform the skill, it is bigger and better than before.

If you are wanting more insight into other students prac experiences why not read Maggie’s blog.