First Class after Half Term

Monday morning s are always hard, even harder after a week off so having a lesson to do while trying out new technologies was always going to be daunting. I was nervous about doing this class because of the new technologies as I was worried about showing the students things and then for them not to work correctly as I don’t have the most confidence with MAC’s or had ever tried this before but I thought the technology aspect went alright in the end.

In the class today I tried out a new remote for the smart board which worked really well and allowed me to move around the class more rather than be linked to the computer which was well worth the investment however my concerns were that it might not work with the MACs. It would have been an inconvenience if it hadn’t worked but it wouldn’t have been the end of the world as I would have had to make do without like I had already.

I also set up a Kahoot quiz for the students which also went down well, one issue was that the computers hindered the students view to the questions however I did wonder if this was going to be an issue so made sure the questions had enough time on them for me to read out the possible answers. The quiz featured two examples which all the students should have known and most did do really well so had remembered what was covered before half term, so the Kahoot was a good form of assessment. The discussions with the questions again did falter with the students not speaking out so I need to really tackle this aspect of students sharing their opinions, I really hope that once we have moved and the class is more together around a table then they speak out more as the group will be able to develop more group discussions that way easier.

The big issue for this class was introducing the class to One Note and getting the students using the Class note book that I set up for them. I did ask them to save work to the class notebook and although I did see at least one student using one note nothing was saved to the class notebook so it could be that she was using her personal notebook. This was something I had asked the students to be aware of due to their issues with saving (the student who was using it was one of those that had particular issues) however I would like to see them using it more so I’ll be sure to bring it up with them again. Some students said they had issues with their email so they have been advised to seek IT as this should not be a problem at this stage in the year. Obviously this form of saving will not suit everyone, especially as some students write straight into their books but for those that do type I want to get them to try it so I feel I should set them a task for them to have to upload something.

The rest of the class ran smoothly with the students working on their own projects and research, I am however beginning to find it difficult when it comes to discussing work with some students as there hasn’t been as much progress as there should so I feel I am repeating myself with telling them what they need to be doing. I am going through SMART target setting with another group so I think going through this with my morning group would also be beneficial to have better tracking of what the students are doing and to see who should be progressing faster than they should.

Motivation

Motivation is defined by the Oxford dictionary as ‘a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way’ and having a motivational force in your life is important as it gives you a purpose to do anything, even if you are unaware of it completely yourself. Motivation is influenced by intrinsic (internal) and extrinsic (external) factors and these can be very personal to the individual.

Motivation I feel tends to come more from extrinsic factors, especially the motivation towards education. I have always felt education is a method to progress through life and personally I have used education to better my future prospects. I was raised to believe a good education would lead to a better and more stable life so my motivations over my life have broken down to getting good GCSE’s, good A-Levels to go to University and then a good degree to get a good job so I wouldn’t have to worry about bills and all those adult things in life (well worry as much). This came from having a mother who never did education well and a father who could have done more with his and their message that this was the best way to get through in life however what I have chosen to do (art and design and teaching) is an intrinsic motivator. I want to be happy in my job and future and this is what I have come to do, my love for art was nurtured by family but I could have easily done something else in my life, to achieve the external motivator of a comfortable life.

For students today I fear that their motivations are not as straight forward, from the experience I have already had in the college I fear that their motivations for things like education are not as strong as the ones I had, they have to be in education until they are 18, they have to have Maths and English, and although these enforcements are there to help depending on the students background and natural ability they may not see it that way. For those students that try hard and achieve little (in terms of the correct grade like a C at Maths) their motivations dwindle, they wonder ‘what is the point?’ and if they don’t have a stable background (parents that work for example) they may switch off completely. If they are also not in a subject they enjoy (going back to that intrinsic motivation, wanting to learn for your own pleasure of understanding more) than again they have no real motivation to be there.

This is the struggle I feel teachers face today, giving students the reason to be there. With more pressure being put on educating to have a good paying job, to have any chance of paying off your student debt then those less academic students might not bother going that route at all. The benefits for them do not outweigh the motivation they can drum up.

The Behaviourist Approach to motivation is the reward system, (which is the: educate to improve job prospects and pay outcome system) however where the issues above are in place this is not good enough. Many students (at least a good proportion I have seen) give up too easily; achievement for achievements sake, for a long term outcome is again not enough for them. Their long term outcome for them might not seem worth it, they might feel they will never be able to pay off a student debt and would prefer to go straight into work (which is becoming harder as it) and so the vicious circle never ends.

I feel a large part of teaching in 16+ if finding what makes these students tick, why have they chosen art and design rather than photography for example? Giving them good career advice and showing them what is possible. For those students that have no idea (for there will be many who know exactly what they want to do) It could mean breaking down the stages, having more opportunity to award the steps taken but that these rewards need to be managed and at a level that suits what has been achieved (for a student that had punctuality issues perhaps they can leave class early if they have arrived to every class on time through the week).

Motivation will always falter, they will wonder what the point is, everyone does ( I did many times during my masters) but being a good role model for these students can also help them see what motivation and drive can do and being able to help them through their days where they want to give up is probably the hardest .

 

I feel I have rambled a little in this post but it’s late and my brain hasn’t really worked all week…

Half Term Already!

Half term is already upon us and with it brings a close to seven weeks of my PGCE (six if you don’t include the introduction week, which we do since that week was pretty full on).

It has been a crazy seven weeks, and I have already learnt so much but know there is still so much more to learn so I know my half term is going to be full of reading and lesson planning. I have an observation the day we get back and an assessment the day after!!  So take it from me it is true, teachers really don’t have as much holiday as you think they do.

So far in this journey I feel that I am managing okay, I know my reading is behind (there is so much that I think it will never be over and it has just dawned that we have an essay to do as well! That I am the most worried about.

In the six weeks I have come to see that the main areas that I need to improve are, getting the learners more involved in group discussions/ general motivation as well as figuring out online opportunities with a side of classroom management.

 

My classes are two hours long and maintaining motivation is one of the larger issues I face, especially since my classes are typically workshop sessions where they are supposed to be left to their own devices however with the experience I have gained over the past six weeks I have come to see that the students become distracted after an hour or so of work. A problem I feel I faced was not wanting to disrupt the class to do something with the students but after the half term I am going to try and break up the class with an activity as after all; the learners are only disrupting themselves after an hour or so anyway, so I might as well use this natural lull in concentration to gather the learners up and do something with them (something that was suggested to me from an observation and a tactic for more stimulated learning I came across in ‘Pritchard, 2009’). I thought rather than going through all the information I want the learners to know at the start of the two hour session I could break the session almost in two, obviously this will not work all the time (or I feel that it wouldn’t work all the time) but I can only try and see how this works with these learners, if it doesn’t work I will try something else.

Technology is another element that has been suggested I explore and after having a PGCE session about such things I think the online quizzes such as ‘Plickers’ and ‘Kahoot’ are good programmes to use as starters but that using One Note would be the most beneficial for my students.

One class that I have use computers for the two hours, as they should be using the time to do their contextual research for projects but most have issues regarding printing and saving and I have also come to find it difficult to assess how productive the class has been. It was suggested that I add a submission box to Moodle but have found most of the students do not use Moodle as much as they should, however all students have access to email and office 365 at the college (some even email their work to themselves each lesson) so setting up a class One Notebook seemed like a good idea.

This notebook would allow the students to upload their work on a weekly basis, allowing me and other teachers to check what they have been writing without the worry that they need to print or have saving issues (as they can copy and paste their work into a note document). I feel that this could be a simple solution to a continuing issue but again I can only try it and see.

Classroom management is something that will forever be an ongoing area of learning (well I get the feeling teaching is forever an ongoing learning area) but that for me, right now, it is a case of learning what I could do if…

I have done some reading on the matter (Vizard, 2007. Petty, 2014) on top of the class we had but again I know that I have yet to come across any real serious issues in classroom management and that my issues tend to be related to motivation and simple control of the Primary Behaviour and low level disturbances.

 

I hope to use this time over half term to catch up where I feel that I have fallen behind but to also catch up socially, I have found that doing this course has taken its toll on my social calendar (not that it was the best anyway) but that I have been super busy, and super tired. Working weekends does only give me the two days in the week I have out of college to do everything I need to do but this week I should at least be able to catch up with sleep and recharge the batteries… well fingers crossed.

 

References

  • Petty, Geoff (2014) Teaching Today: A practical guide fifth edition. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
  • Pritchard, Alan (2009) Ways of Learning: Learning Theories and Learning Styles in the Classroom. Second Edition. New York, USA: Routledge Publishing
  • Vizard, Dave (2007) How to Manage Behaviour in Further Education. London, UK: Paul Chapman Publishing.

Questioning class training

Like the lesson on assessments I never realised questioning could be so extensive and complicated.

I know that when questioning students I have been striving for open questions but that I need to work on probing as when left with the ‘wall of silence’ I do sometimes feel at a loss on what to do but that with these handy starters I should be able to get the conversation moving but redirecting the question, rephrasing it perhaps rather than just answering it myself to get the class moving.

The PPPB method does look like it will need a lot of practice, especially to get used to but seeing it in action it does look like an very effective questioning tool to get students to pay attention and engage – a issue I have had with some students.

Assessment class training

Covering assessment was much more extensive than I thought it would be; I never really thought that ‘assessment’ covered so much and only really thought of assessment as summative.

What was interesting was the amount of assessment that takes place, especially the formative and the informal assessment. I’ve realised through this lesson that assessment should be constant and now having the structure of giving feedback I feel I’ll have a better understanding of assessing and giving more rounded feedback to students.

I’ve always tried to follow the stages of feedback which have been detailed about above for my students as that is how I was always given feedback and researching more on Assessment for Learning will help further.

Another lesson and more things learnt

So today was another lesson that I took by myself with just another teacher in the room who is simply there to support if I need it.

I have started to get to know the class much more now so find it easier to talk to them and understand how the class works however the quietness of the class is still an issue I need to deal with when it comes to questioning. So far open and closed questions have worked well with this class however getting them to speak out on their own feelings is where I am struggling.

This lesson was a struggle to have open discussions though as the topic was personal with ‘memories’ being the focus so getting the students to discuss in a group was a little awkward and due to the questions being open and personal I felt that I could not question a particular student like I would if I was asking a more factual question. I hope that through continuing a method of asking personal opinions, especially through group critical analysis of their own work and other artists/designers work the students will open up and feel that they can answer and not feel that there is a ‘wrong’ answer as I feel that this is a big issue with students. Also reading up more on methods of directing a discussion would help, I have done a little reading, just from Geoff Petty’s book (I own it and so far have found it easier to read however I am aware that I need to read more around the subject) but know it is something that takes practice to develop.  Discussing on a smaller group basis (myself and three students maximum) and one-to-ones however is another matter, the students are happier to open up and talk about almost anything so it could be a larger group dynamic issue.

I do feel that the classroom layout was also not the best to encourage group discussion, this class is in a MAC room and typically for the use of contextual research so students are in rows, sat behind computers facing forward. This however was the student’s first lesson on their new subject so they needed to work on mind-maps first. Ideally I would have had the students in a different room but I wasn’t aware this was an option until I felt it was too late to inform the students of the change.

With this class I wanted to make sure I started the class with a reminder on phone policy, I made sure to have the class focus on me before I started and I feel that the reminder went well and that they all listened but only time will tell.

One thing that cropped up was the lateness of two students in particular, this was the second week running they were late, with no real excuse (it is a 9am lesson so it is understandable for the odd lateness) so after discussing with the regular tutor it would not be unreasonable to talk to the pair and set punctuality targets with them.

I also feel that sometimes when I address the group, for example in this class when explaining the next steps in what they were doing, many do continue to work so it is hard to judge who is paying attention however with these classes being practical I also don’t want to disturb the students as these next steps are for the students have finished the first step but that this could just be my own inexperience, so far I have not needed to repeat myself after these addresses but I might find that this is the case and that it might be a case of judging when it is appropriate to stop the class to have 100% attention.

 

So far this is only my third full lesson so there will always be things to learn, but the important thing will be to take heed of what I am learning and apply it figuring what works and what does not.

One day, Three Lessons, Two Observations

Mondays are my busy day and this Monday was no different.  I have three, two hour lessons with Level 3 year 1 students, 2 of which I am slowly taking over for them to become my classes and this week those two classes were observed!

Observations we are told do not need to be scary, we are only weeks into our training so there are bound to be elements that we are lacking and or don’t even know yet so these early observations are critical in helping push us along the right path. For me I was a little nervous to begin with just because it was the first time I had been ‘watched’ and I felt that these classes were the first where I would be really alone in teaching however, the classes went alright without any major disruptions so I had nothing to worry about really.

The observations helped me notice where I was lacking and also brought to light ways to take advantage of opportunities in teaching. I realised that most of the time it was simply that, I lacked the information to know what I was doing or I lacked the knowledge that what I was doing was right… if any of that made sense to you?

Basically where I had failed to fill in a lesson plan I never realised that when discussing with students what they had achieved today or the symmetry in a face for example actually does cover ‘assessment’ and ‘numeracy’ two key areas observers look out for. Areas I was lacking such as embedding equality and diversity I’ve never even heard of before so I was naturally clueless on the whole process and although worried about not including this had to accept that it wasn’t something we had yet covered so there was no need to be too hung up on trying to do something that you don’t know how do to.

 

 

One part of the observation process is reflecting on the lesson and what your observer has discussed with you and I generally find reflecting easy however we have to think about reflecting with links to theory for these reflections and that is where I have struggled so far. It is still early in the course after all  but I already feel I am mountains behind in my reading and doing these reflections made me realise this a little more (and made me panic, brought on a massive feeling of being overwhelmed which brought on a crippling migraine). I realised in the reflections that yes I have these areas I need to improve, yes I know I need to do research to improve but I haven’t yet done the research so how could I mention this?

I hope the next reflection is where you can show all this progress better as by then I should be able to mention what I have changed from the last lesson and how I have changed it by (typically) reading such and such book or I so guess.

We have a minimum of nine observations to undergo before we complete the course so I’m sure I’ll get the hang of things…hopefully.

Behaviour Management class training

This session on classroom behaviour/Management was very informative. I thankfully have not had many issues with bad behaviour so far other than abuse of the mobile phone policy so it was good to at least learn the correct methods and some of the theory involved for if things do escalate with a student/class.

In the session we only touched on the issue of motivation and I would have liked to have covered more as I believe this is the largest challenge I face with my students however we have been given references for suitable reading on the subject.

I understand that motivations for students can be very intrinsic and that a large part of motivating a student will be to find what motivates them so I feel I should attempt to find out if my students have intrinsic/extrinsic motivations and play with those.

 

From this session I have also come to understand how important it is to know your students even more than before. We know it is important but even having a simple class profile detailing which students may have extra behavioural issues and how to deal with those issues I have realised could help avoid many of the escalated issues (Secondary Behaviour). 

I was also interested to see how learning styles and lesson planning can affect classroom behaviour. I have already witnessed how students can become distracted when a lesson is long and the activities are either nonexistent or repetitive so I feel Dales Cone of Learning is something to be aware of to avoid bad behaviour due to boredom.

 

I feel that as a new teacher, with a new class that behaviour is something that would need to be targeted right away due to everything being new(and my feeling that teacher/student relationships can help behaviour issues) and can understand now how you get the ‘substitute teacher’ effect where students play up to a substitute due to not having these relationships in place. However I have also come to notice that it can be the teacher too that ‘firm but fair’ attitude and teacher confidence can also ripple the through to the class. I have been told Bill Rodgers is an author to read into further on this issue and idea.