The idea was that even though I am doing my degree in primary school teaching by having those in the degree go to both types of schools it would achieve the following: making sure that we were certain that teaching in primary was what we wanted to do and that we didn't want to change to secondary-even more generally having the placement do early on in the course was to make sure that we still wanted to be teachers after seeing what it was like; No problem for me when I had already been helping out at a local primary school for a while by that point. In fact before the uni semester had started I had spent three weeks assisting in a Prep room.
It was also helpful to view other teachers and their methods. However for me the secondary school placement was boring and pointless as I had just the year previous been a highschool student myself. Also the classes that I was observing for the majority of my placement were VCE classes that I had never even taken in my own VCE years and so had no interest in and were extremely boring to me-expecially the double lessons. I much prefer the 4 periods a day at 75 minutes long that my own high school had. Long enough to be able to teach, short enough to retain students attention.
Anyway the main point of this blog post was to be that I would post what I originally wrote and handed in about my observations to my lecturer. It has evolved greatly from that it seems. Below I will post what I wrote, please keep in mind though that when I wrote this I was in my third week of my degree and really had no idea what I was supposed to be looking out for.
Here it is:
On my observation placements I learned allot about myself, about teaching and students and about schools and educational settings. I saw lots of different teachers in both a primary and a high school setting.
I saw teachers who put into place the ideas that we had been looking at in lectures about how learning is best when the students take a more active role rather than just listening and trying to absorb what their teacher is saying. For example in a VCE business management class that I was observing the teacher did not just give the students the information but encouraged them to think about what they already knew and linked the new information (about policies) to things that they already knew about and that affected them so the lesson seemed more interesting and relevant.
In a grade 3 and 4 class the teacher encouraged his students to come up with ‘fat’ and ‘skinny questions’ when looking at a newspaper article, so questions that only skimmed the surface of the issue that they were looking at and then deeper questions so that the students could actually understand what it is that they were learning.
I think that the most important thing I saw on placements was different ways to get the students engaged and the knowledge that you cannot always teach the same it depends on the students and how they learn best as well as the fact that the most important thing is that the students need to understand what it is that they are learning otherwise the activity that they are doing becomes pointless.
Another thing is always to be encouraging which I saw an example of in a 5/6 spelling lesson where the teacher got lots of different students answers and then gave the real answer, showing the students if their answers were not correct how to spell it and showing them that in most cases that they may have been spelling it phonetically and that they might be really close to being correct. I also liked his policy of not encouraging giving a mark out of ten and getting them to learn words relevant to the topic they were studying.
One thing that I did notice about the classes that I was in was that students in high school sat in rows rather than having groups of tables like in the primary school which could mean that the environment in the high school is less collaborative and that they do less group work and the teachers take a more direct instructional approach when teaching something that I think you can see in allot of maths lessons.
From my placements I have learned and observed different ways of teaching and I learned a bit more about the kind of teacher that I want to be. When I am a teacher I want to use allot of different modes of teaching so that all the students can have a chance to learn and be engaged in their learning. I also want to be more of a hands on teacher and really make what the students are learning fun and interesting instead of making them do sheets or copy notes off of a board.
Theres is more detailed information about my experience in another post to follow.