Teaching this year…

Teaching this year…

For me, this year has been challenging being my first year teaching.

What I enjoyed

An aspect that I enjoyed was managing two tutor groups. I enjoyed making sure that they are working well and solving any problems that occurred along the way. This is something that I feel I have an advantage in due to my background in psychology and working with a diverse group of individuals.

I used Pro-monitor productively and effectively which helped me to manage my groups. I ensured that they had SMART targets so they always had a goal to achieve which helped them progress. This also helps as you can use it as a means of recording data and showing progress and achievements throughout the year. I have also found it useful to show it to parents. pro

I think this tool is very useful as it allows you to monitor students progression. It also allows student to see what they need to achieve. This is an excellent opportunity during tutorial when I had 1-to-ones with my learners. I could improve this by ensuring that students use this more regularly to ensure the effectiveness. This tool also needs to be managed more by myself and given any opportunity i should be using this tool. This is something that I need to use more efficiently next year.

What I did not enjoy

An A level group has always been expected to set high standards for themselves and that is something that I struggled with this year as I didn’t expect certain behaviours. This expectations is based on my understanding of A level students and based on my schemas.

Some students would attend class and then eat when I would look away. Although, I have contacted their personal tutors nothing was done about this. I found myself getting annoyed with them every lesson as I had to remind them to put the crisps away, which I thought, was something they should know. My tutor groups are well managed and behaved but with some of my A level students I found that they were not easily managed. I then realised (more so towards the end of the year!) that just because you are not their tutor does not mean you cannot manage their behaviour. It is your class and therefore it is up to you to manage them during that lesson! Therefore, if behaviour is a problem, rather than continuing the specification, set some time aside to talk about their behaviour and also re-instate the rules.

What I learnt

The biggest lesson I have learnt is to stay clam focused and in control, not just with students but also with staff! There are some people that do not have the same beliefs and work ethics, therefore you have to learn to continue working with them.

Also, its important to have a work-life balance (try)! The amount of work that is expected from an HE establishment is a lot! You can spend hours and hours working and will still find there is still a lot to do. Therefore, it’s important to look after yourself and come into work energetic and ready to continue with the work. This has an impact on the way you deliver your teaching as it has a direct effect on your well being and your mood.

What I will do next year 

I would introduce rules at the beginning of each class. As Petty (2009) states, first impressions count! Some rules are generic which are specified in the course handbook, however, some rules are your rules that you apply to your lessons. Therefore, rules will be set at the beginning of the year, with the agreement of the students so that they know they are now young capable adults that are expected to be responsible, and when students start to test their boundaries, the rules are reinstated alongside consequences.

These are the rules that we agreed to with one of my groups:

rules.PNG

This year I only introduced the rules at the beginning of the year. However, what I have learnt from talking to other colleagues is that it effective to re-introduce the rules throughout the year.

Another aspect I will change is the way I taught A levels. This year the “chalk” and “talk” was encouraged and there was less opportunity for active learning until they started to revise. Therefore, next year I will try, where appropriate, to implement more interactive and engage students in the process of active learning. More Flip Learning will be given to learners to encourage learners to focus on work outside of the classroom allowing students to rehearse the content. This will ensure that content moves from STM to LTM (Petty, 2009).

PS 1

Petty, G (2009). Teaching Today: A Practical Guide. 4th ed. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes.

Petty, G (2009). Evidence-Based Teaching, A practical approach, 2nd edition, Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes

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Learning taking place

Learning taking place

itOne of the main areas of focus within an observation is to see evidence of “learning being taken place”. It is one of the qualities that is essential to teaching. So, what does this actually mean and how do we achieve it?

The OFSTED framework (CIS) dictates that learning involves, quality of teaching, learning and assessment, personal development, behaviour and welfare and outcomes for children and other learners.

Although, the CIS has been used widely, when looking at the way teaching has begun to change, the OFSTED framework needs to be reconsidered. For example, the CIS states the importance of feedback from the teacher’s perspective. However, it does not take into consideration students feedback. Student’s feedback is as important as it helps teachers become critically effective teacher to enable personal development in terms of teaching. This has been widely documented through Brookfield’s “Becoming a critically reflective teacher” (2017), where he states “the most important pedagogic knowledge we teachers need to do good work is in awareness week in and week out of how our students experiencing learning”. How are we supposed to understand the perspective of the student if we do not ask and simply assume that they are progressing and learning?

I recently, planned a group activity in a revision lesson, which involved incorporating peer group discussion. They were put into groups and given an almost “Rag-rated” sheet where they had to rate their level of confidence for each topic that was taught. 

Capture

Each group was then given a particular question from a topic. They each discussed the theories and then the evaluation points before sharing it with the rest of the group.  At the end of the lesson, I asked the students if they found the activity useful. This is the feedback that i gained:

students

I therefore used this idea again, simply because I could tell that learning was taking place and it was helping student realise what they need to focus on in terms of their revision. If I had simply repeated the lesson because I liked it, I wouldn’t be considering learning from the people who are actually supposed to learn!

This activity also showed that learning has taken place. Not just in terms of student feedback but other factors which Biggs (2011) has highlighted. He has rated, in terms of percentages, to how people generally learn. At the low-end of the scale he commented that only 10% of people will learn through the process of just reading whereas, 70% of learning will take place when they talk it over with others such as the group activity above. He also stated that people learn the most by teaching others (90%).

Although, I planned a group discussion I did not however look at ways they could teach others. On reflection, I could have given them a question where they could peer assess, and then give feedback to each other. I could then ask why they were given that feedback. This would have added the important aspect of “teaching others”.

P1, P2, P6, PS9, PS8

OFSTED “Further Education And Skills Inspection Handbook” available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/608481/Further_education_and_skills_inspection_handbook_for_use_from_April_2017.pdf

Biggs, J. and Tang, C. (2011). Teaching For Quality Learning At University. 4th ed. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education.

Teaching Philosophy

Teaching Philosophy

The concept of rewards and punishment has been around for many years, which gained popularity through Skinner’s work. Although, this is now considered a “dated” approach, the basic principle of rewarding good behaviour and punishing bad behaviour remains today. Based on this ideology, teachers should reward students who gain top scores and punish student who do not do well. Simple isn’t it? However, what about students that learn but academically can not achieve high marks. For example, students with learning difficulties? Students who do not speak English as their first language? Therefore, the behaviourist is an “outdated” approach.

Differentiation is a key term in teaching and comes down to the importance of individuality. Every student is different, they learn in different ways i.e different learning styles.

Over the years many theories has proposed different teaching philosophies. Having educational psychology allows us to use pedagogical  understanding to improve our teaching practices. Looking at my experiences, I would always say that I am more prone to teaching through a humanistic approach, in terms of seeing a student as a whole and not part of a group. However, Humanistic approach also states that in order for learning to take place, the basic needs of a person should be met i.e hunger. I would not however, allow a student to leave the classroom to eat, or to let them eat in class due to classroom rules. Here, the behaviourist approach is more useful as students are taught what is expected and what is not.

This illustrates the dynamic and complexity of adopting one specific teaching philosophy. Each group will be different to another group. For example, although each student should be aware of their responsibilities  towards their education, I tend to place this responsibility on my A level students more. This is because they are progressing to University and therefore are responsible and aware of their education i.e they have free will (Humanistic) and understand that certain behaviour is not accepted. In contrast, my level 1 students are not aware of certain rules and lack social maturity. Therefore, with this group, I adopt more behaviourist approach. For example, giving them praise when they follow certain rules to teach them what is expected and what is not. 

In terms of, cognitivism and constructivism, I adopted these strategies when questioning students. For example, if a student gets an answer wrong I would ask how they reached to that conclusion to understand why they have gone wrong. By finding the source of the problem, we can change their thought processes. Whereas, If i used a behaviourist approached and shouted at them, they wouldn’t want to get involved in activities in fear of being shouted at again.

Jordon et al (2008) also highlights that society is no longer homogeneous and therefore we need adopt a different focus to education where we recognise individualism. He suggested that we should, allow students to self-express as Brookfield (2007) emphases the importance of seeing things from the students lens.  This is fundamental in understanding students and how their thought processes work to arrive to certain conclusions. Also, this has been picked up in terms of British Values which I adopt in my classrooms via allowing students to express themselves.

Another point was to emphasis on individuals strengths and styles. This is useful during group activities. I have formed groups that has students with different, styles, strengths and weaknesses. Through this interactions, students were able to benefit learning from each other through discussions.  

Therefore, there are a lot of factors that needs to be taken into consideration. As illustrated above, i adopted certain strategies based on my group and also what I am doing myself i.e questioning. This allows students to be engaged.

PS4, PS5, PS8, PS9, PS14

Jordan, A. ,Carlile, O. & Stack, A. (2008) Approaches to Learning: A Guide for Teachers, Berkshire: McGraw-Hill http://lib.myilibrary.com/Browse/open.asp?ID=195294

Brookfield S.D. (2007). Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. (2nd edition) San Fransisco: Jossey- Bass

 

Resiliency and Teaching

Resiliency and Teaching

Over the recent years there has been an increase in the number of teachers being absent from work due to work related stress and this has become a growing concern. 

I wanted to see why some member take days off so i conducted a small survey in my office and these are the results. As the pie chart shows, a lot of absences are due to direct stress from work and health problems that may be due to the long hours that staff are expected to work in.

capture

Based on a recent survey conducted by the department of education (DfE, 2017), they found that teachers are now engaging in extensive working hours due to marking, preparations and admin work which most likely will be completed outside of their contracts. This therefore has an impact on their work-life balance.

Similarly, TES (2017) published an article which explains the stress that teachers are subjected to on a daily basis. Most reports based around teaching emphases that teaching involves more than teaching. Not taking into consideration the ongoing changes that are implemented from the government on the education system, as teachers we need to be able to deal with safeguarding issues such as sexting, sexual abuse, female genital mutilation and mental health issues, such as bipolar, depression, self-harm as well as, ensuring that workload is managed accordingly and teaching is delivered at a high standard. It is only inevitable that teachers struggle to cope with the pressures of their jobs.

Coping strategies therefore need to be implemented in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance. I myself, have a heavy background within psychology. I have worked as a support worker, healthcare assistant, research assistant, in Samaritans, mental health mentor and counsellor and have adopted coping strategies over the years. However, although this helps me with the emotional aspect of teaching, it does not take into consideration other factors.

From the DfE report, one of common mechanism were working collaboratively with other staff to plan and work. From the beginning of the academic year I feel team working is a skill that I have developed because prior to teaching, I have never worked in a job that heavily relies on teamwork. Sharing resources, and helping each other reduces the pressure of your workload. For example, at the beginning of the academic year, one of the tutors that I work with, gave me all the presentations that were prepared from last year. I used these slides as a basis and adapted them to fit my teaching styles which saved a lot of time. During our staff meetings, we have a time where we can introduce different practices. Sometimes ideas are rejected and sometimes they are liked but we try to fit them if we can around our teaching philosophies.

Another factor, which takes into consideration individual differences,  was mentioned by Mulholland et al (2017) who states that teachers should be able to have time to reflect on their practice.

I do this in two ways, one during the teacher training course, as the emphasis is developing critically reflective skills as a teacher. There is a lot of opportunities available where we can discuss certain issues. For example, how to consider  differentiation within your planning. The other way is, during my “catch up” meetings with my manager. Here, we discuss any issues that may have arose during the week. For example, a student of mine was refusing to attend lesson due to anxiety issues so therefore, we came to an agreement that is best if we give him time to think about whether he wants to continue the course. A plan was put into place.

I found that having these meetings have helped me immensely. It’s almost a form of catharsis which is used when debriefing a person after a traumatic or stressful event. As these meetings are regular, I have the opportunities to release the stress . It very similar to a concept that was taught during Samaritans, where they used the idea of wearing a hat: When you get into work you wear your “work hat” and when you leave you take this hat off and everything that is associated with work is also left at work.

PS 9, PS12, 

Department of Education (2016). Teacher Workload Survey 2017. Social Science in government.

Tes. (2017). Teaching is bad for your health…but it doesn’t have to be that way. [online] Available at: https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/teaching-bad-your-healthbut-it-doesnt-have-be-way [Accessed 19 Apr. 2017].

Mulholland, A. McKinlay, J. Sproule (2017). Teachers in need of space: the content and changing context of work. Educational Review 69 (2), 181-200

The importance of motivation

The importance of motivation

Individuality is important especially in the education system due to the U.K having a heavy heterogeneous population. Therefore, it is necessary to adapt our teaching styles to reflect this.

I have come to realise that there is a fine line between your teaching philosophy, which is the approach adopted to teach students, and then behavioural strategies, which is used to manage classroom behaviour. Both these factors will combine to ensure that students are in fact learning.

Harper (2013) suggest that if teacher expect high expectations from students, students are more likely to learn, as they will be highly motivated, not only to please the teacher but also to show the teacher what they can do. Learning does not simply mean engaging in certain activities, or attending, learning is an active process where students show progression. I believe showing progression is the key to acknowledging that learning has taken place and as Fairclough (2008) states, they need a positive atmosphere.

Harper (2013) points out that student need to be motivated and the level of classroom management needs to be high. In order to achieve this he explains it through theories.

The ripple effect is based on the concept of students wanted to learn and needing to learn. It is not simply the case of learning the content because you have to.

The image below show the attendance for each group. The first two images are for my personal group, the last table shows the overall group attendance for A2 Psychology students. You can see the big difference between the two I.T group in comparison to the A2 group.

level 1level 2A2 psy

Therefore, I started to explaining to students the importance of their education and how what we are learning is relevant. My BTEC Level 2 students sometimes complain that they do not like database because they find it hard and it is not something that will use in the future. Therefore, I have found it useful to get students to research the importance of the unit. Why use databases? What are the advantages? This allows students to understand the application of the unit and engagement to class activities increases. Similarly, the A2 students have started to research into the importance of such studies and its application to our understanding of the world today.

Expectancy model is another feature that I have found useful. This is based on what we as teacher expect our students to behave as. Students are more likely to adopt a certain behaviour over others because of the outcome. Therefore, consistency is key. However, it is difficult to establish as each tutor have their own set of expectations.

Theory x and theory y is based on the concept of understanding what motivates students. This is crucial and gives them the sense of responsibility. This year i have found that the A level students (2nd year’s) attitude suddenly changed, which surprised me, especially as their exams are getting close by! I found out however, that students who were attending have gained a conditional offer from their university and those whose attendance had decreased gained unconditional offer. This shows that motivation is a crucial factor in affecting student’s attitudes towards their course. Unfortunately, we cannot control when students receive their offers from university. However, we can try to re-engage students. I think this is a difficult challenge. Disciplinary in colleges, do not have the same effect as they do in secondary schools however, it is a start. Some students, who were not attending, have started to attend because they are now on stage 3.

I think one of the ways that I have motivated A level students to attend is by talking about their reference. Although they have obtained a reference for their universities, employers will still seeks out references from colleges. Their stats will therefore make a difference to their changes of being employed. Another strategy that I have tried out is through establishing a strong teacher-student relationship, where students can tell you why there are not attending. This is essential as if you know the reason why, then you can solve the issue.

I think motivation has a huge effect on a student. There is many different ways to tackle this issue and keep reminding students why education is important. It is easier to motivate Level 1 and Level 2 students simply because they still have that fear factor and they understand that they will not progress through the college if they do not pass. However, I think (if A levels continues) motivation needs to still be addressed but maybe tacked in a different way. This is yet something I need to invest in.

PS 1, PS2

Harper, Harriet. (2013). Outstanding Teaching In Lifelong Learning. Open University Press

Fairclough, M. (2008). Supporting Learners in thelifelong learning sector. Bershire: Open University Press http://lib.mylibrary.com/Browse/open.asp?ID=195294

Role of a tutor – responsibility, approachability and awareness

Role of a tutor – responsibility, approachability and awareness

There is a growing concern of the dangers of the online world. This year, with the level 1’s group, I had many issues that I had to deal with adequately. As a tutor it is important to be aware of the issues that students are faced with today.

The level 1 I.T students spend a lot of time on the internet, playing games, interacting with online friends and using social media. As a group and individuals, they lack social skills. Therefore as a personal tutor, I have a duty of pastoral care and  need to ensure that they have an opportunities to develop their social skills that will help them, for example, securing a job in the future.

I therefore, placed them on work experience to gain employability skills and develop a sense of responsibility. I wanted students to understand the important of employablity so prior to their work experience we started to look at a range of employablity skills.  I conducted these activities to ensure that they were fun and active simply because most students do not like work experience ! This was then recorded on ProMonitor as shown below:

Capture1

This helps to keep a record of what they have done in regards to the topics. Pro-Monitor allows students to also view their achievements as well as their teachers.

We all worked together to find relevant work experiences. We all went away with 2-3 contact details and as homework we made sure that we contacted potential employers and then we gave feedback to the group. We then narrowed this down to the jobs that has a risk assessment put in place. Students really enjoyed this process and I wanted to know why. Therefore, in tutorial, I asked for the feedback and they identified the following:

  1. Working together – “we all worked together and the tutor also engaged in the activities”
  2. Control – “had control over where we went so it was more enjoyable” – It wasn’t boring and we had the same responsibility and was treated like adults
  3. Environment was relaxed and comfortable and we shared ideas

Based on this, I started to adopt my teaching activities which, were I could, focused on these three aspects. This worked very well with my Level 1’s. The feedback was an important aspect as this allowed me to understand what students found useful in terms of learning. It was also important because it helps me to develop my own professional understanding within teaching by analysing my strengths and weaknesses.

Brookfield (2017) identified that viewing the class from a student perspective helps you become more aware and mindful of different situations that is difficult to acknowledge if you only look at it from one perspective (e.g. teacher’s lens).  For example, if i did not gain such feedback, I probably would have misinterpreted the success of the lesson to another factor and may have ignored the above factors.

Another crucial factor that Brookfield (1995) identified is that by using the student lens we also become more aware of some of the issues that they have to deal with. For example, social media was not something I personally used when I was a teenager. I used MSN, a form of instant messaging to talk to my friends and that was the extent to the use of the internet as a social means. However, today students are on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc. and they are more exposed to the world. This is where its important to be aware of the issues that students face today. The best way to do this? Simple; talk to them and we can only get them to talk to us, if we are understanding and approachable which is a crucial aspect in establishing a strong teacher-student relationship.

PS3, PS4, PS12

Brookfield, S.D.(1995) Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass

Brookfield S.D. (2007). Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. (2nd edition) San Fransisco: Jossey- Bass

The use of I.T in classrooms

The use of I.T in classrooms

Effective teaching has now changed from the drill-and-practice or chalk-and-talk concept to teachers now being facilitators and getting students to engage in higher order thinking by working collaboratively. Therefore, it is important for our teaching to change with the times.

As we now live in a highly I.T digital saturated world, I.T is now being incorporated into the way we teach as it complements today’s teaching. Feltag (2014) highlighted the importance of embedding I.T when teaching. It suggests that tutors need to be more aware of the positive impact that it could have.

Currently, as I am teaching I.T, I personally find myself comfortable using I.T itself however; embedding it in your teaching practice is different. I currently use Kahoot, which I find, works really well with my level 1, 2 and AS students. A level student however, do not enjoy the competitive nature, they do not find it useful, and therefore I opted for Mentimeter as we can discuss questions and evaluate studies.

Therefore, it is a question of understanding how we can corporate I.T effectively so that it benefits the students.

There are many ways in which I.T can be used (Ingle et al 2013) )and as there is almost a sense of ‘pressure’ and tutors may not feel confident, I.T is altogether avoided (Feltag, 2014).  However, it is a case of researching and being confident in using different ideas within your class. In addition, knowing your students will influence what kind of I.T based activities you will use (Summey, 2012) They key for successful usage of I.T is evaluating your own use of IT. I therefore, conducted a small survey to see what students liked during class time and these are the results.

As the results show, students really enjoyed I.T based interaction in the classroom.

survey

Also I asked them why, and they said its “fun and new”. Therefore, it shows the importance of ensuring that your lessons will benefit when you integrate new ideas (Not every lesson but where necessary) which means that CPD is essential to ensure student engagement.

I have attended CPD on the use of Smart Board. The activities that are embedded on there are easy to use and does not take up to time to create one. Students are more involved with these activities and as students have now started to revise and we are coming close to the academic year, I think activities like this will prove to be useful.

I.T based activities has the ability to provide differentiated learning and activities. Cohen (2004), identified that I.T based activities has great claims for differentiation as it takes into account learning styles, pacing, timing and personal involvement of the learner.

Personally, I can see the positive impact that I.T can have in the classroom. I do however, think that it’s a case of “the more you use it, the more confidence you will gain”. Hence, I will engaging in the use of digital literates and adopt it for my students.

PS4, PS5, PS9, PS12, PS14, PS15

Cohen L, Mannion, L and Morrison (2004). A Guide To Teaching Practice. 5th ed. London: Routledge

Further Education Learning Technology Action Group (FELTAG, 2017). Available at: http://feltag.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/FELTAG-REPORT-FINAL.pdf

Ingle, S & Duckworth, V. (2013). Enchancing learning through technology in Lifelong Learning. Edgar Hill: Routledge

Summey, D (2013). Developing digital literacies: A framework for professional learning. Califronia: Corwin