A blog about teaching and learning in a maths classroom.

Pre-service Reflection

Saturday, 18 June 2011 | 2 Comments

For 4 weeks this term, I handed over 3 of my classes (Year 7, 8 and 9 5.3) to a pre-service teacher from UWS. This is an important time for a pre-service teacher when in total they only spend 8 weeks in the classroom before ‘becoming a teacher’.

This 4 weeks was also interesting to me for a number of reasons:

It was a good reminder for what is essential in the classroom: [A running list of thoughts that may seem obvious…]

  • clear and concise instructions
  • meaningful learning activities
  • suitable timing and pacing
  • processes and practices that enable learning opportunities
  • being mindful of student feedback
  • content knowledge is good – but being able to take abstract concepts and use language and techniques to explain them that align with the students’ ability and prior knowledge is even better
  • teaching is about providing learning opportunities for students
  • we need to be continually affirming expectations, modelling them and applying them consistently
  • teachers should be continually reflecting on their practice
  • technology can enhance and engage students, but it an also distract from the task

I got to think of some different opportunities for my classes. This week, my Year 9 class will start a self-directed unit on Index Notation with regular online self-assessment.

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David Jones on  19 June 11  at  06:28 AM #
As someone about half-way through a year's formal education to become a high-school math teacher I find this list interesting, for a number of different reasons. First, is the question about 8 weeks in the classroom the student teacher has. Is that 8 weeks full-on teaching or 8 weeks overall? e.g. I'm about to finish 32 days in school observing with a bit of teaching. I will start 28 days of much the same in a different school next term. I will then have 6 weeks "full-on" teaching at that same school. Wondering how that compares? Much of the list resonates with what I believe and have observed. But I wonder about point 6. i.e. the ability to explain concepts in a way that meets students prior experience/ability. One of the big problems I had during my first bit of prac teaching is getting to know there prior experience/ability. Much of this knowledge seems to be tacit. Something all the teacher knew, but not something they could pass onto the student teacher. At least not in any significant detail beyond, "Oh you have Fred Nerf, ahh, that will be fun." On the question of reflection, do many teachers actively engage in this? One of the courses for next term starts with reflection, but it hasn't been greatly evident during my prac teaching. I can see how it might be one of those "good" things that goes by the wayside.


Simon Job on  24 June 11  at  05:23 AM #
At UWS(The University of Western Sydney) pre-service teachers complete 5 "focus days" (observing and preparing) and then 4 weeks teaching a half-load for their first "Professional Experience". [That is what my pre-service teacher just completed] For the second "Professional Experience" I think the number of focus days reduces, but still 4 weeks teaching. As to the list, it was a 'good reminder for what is essential in the classroom". That is, I'm writing this list as a teacher with a few years experience reflecting on my own teaching - recognising that understanding the students' prior knowledge helps me pitch a lesson. So, yes, it is a difficulty for a pre-service teacher seeing a class just a couple of times before teaching them. I'm sure there is a mixture of those who do and those who don't. Folks reading a blog are reflecting on their teaching. Teachers who I network with on "Twitter": are definitely reflective practitioners. On the flip side I'm sure there are teachers out there who have a bad lesson and blame it on the students. I don't think reflection needs to be a mammoth task, it could be as simple as a discussion in the staffroom after a shocker of a lesson.

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Simon Job — eleventh year of teaching maths in a public high school in Western Sydney, Australia.
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