Placement Reflection creating a learning environment
Personal confidence is contagious and I am starting to think that a passion for learning is too. I discovered that I love to learn and know that it will be a life long passion and endeavour for myself. My reasons for pursuit teaching were a little muddled before I started the course but at this point in the year I feel a sense of passion direction and confidence heading into this profession.
Continuing from my last placement I found myself maintaining my friendliness yet firm qualities which enabled me to guide students learning with the classroom and during field trips. The middle years of high school seem to be such a twisty turning dynamic time and place for young people. I conscientiously remember that I was once a adolescent and do not focus on the persevered negative elements but rather the positive. It is wonderful that they have such energy, capability of learning so much and have time. Who really wants a class of 24 students who all behave like Sarah J Alexander. Although I think I am wonderful (: I am limited and having the ability help guide 24 individuals towards learning and as a group is wonderfully dynamic and exciting.
AAAAAAAAH but how do I do this? Creating a learning environment starts with understanding, appreciating and anticipating students behaviours and interests. Combining with be myself, having direction and have reasons for undertaking this learning. During my placement I struggled with understanding why it was worth student to understand the difference between physical change and chemical change in year 8 science. My classes reflected this, I sounded like a text book and they undertook task with no particular enthusiasm. After a couple of lessons I found myself better understanding why we teach this and the subsequent classes reflected this. Having an understanding of a topic and an understanding of it educational relevance enabled me to be dynamic and passionate. I linked their lives with science. “Hey why do we bother to put milk in the fridge?” I could draw the science into their lives.
The environment I managed to facilitate in the yr8 Science and yr11 Chemistry classrooms was one where I respected the students and in tern they tended to respect me and others in the class. SOme students expressed their appreciation for my overall manner;
“always will offer help when needed, and makes any question not seem stupid. Is always smiling which makes more approachable when help is needed” anon yr 11 chemistry student
I still remember the feeling of asking a teacher a question only to be shot down with “It is easy remember it was ….” This makes students feel like they are dumb not understanding a concept and withdraw.
When helping students to manage their behaviour, for example talking when someones else did, I reminded them that in a group setting that they need to respect that everyone was here to learn. I believe it is a difficult balance when we as educators and trying to develop “self” development, awareness and strength qualities in our students yet require them to think about others and their learning. I would also remind the class that they had the joint role in asking student to stop talking so that this discipline element was not always control by me, the teacher. Fellow students have in some ways a better outcome of asking someone to stop talking compared with the teacher. I think that this also reminds everyone that it is not my classroom but ours.
During most classes I developed a lesson plan which allowed student to engage in conversation rather than listening to the teacher and taking notes. It was wonderful to see how quickly they worked through the activities and yet an outsider may have been shocked with the amount of talk going on. When ever I taught I keep firmly in my mind the notion that “teen learn through verbal communication” (see http://www.edutopia.org/inside-teenage-brain).
Placement is somewhat limiting in the ultimate development of a classroom feel, you are effectively “babysitting” another teachers class. I was aware that my alternative tolerance level to particular student behaviours did effect the students and they almost found it unnerving particular the year 8’s. But generally a positive learning environment was achieved and with time could be enhanced.