At the beginning of my first year two week placement I arrived feeling very anxious and wasn’t sure what to expect. Although I have had previous volunteering experience within a primary school environment I felt this time was different as I would now be observing the classes for evaluation while also being observed and reviewed myself. Despite feeling reserved and nervous I found that as time progressed in the day I began to feel more confident in my abilities to assist the teacher and children with their work. I was very fortunate that the school had given me the opportunity to observe every classroom in the school over the course of two weeks. This gave me the chance to observe children of all ages in their working environment as well as getting the chance to witness each teachers teaching styles, giving me ideas into what styles I might adopt as a teacher myself.
One lesson I found particularly beneficial was a P6 math lesson I observed which focused on the introduction and reinforcement of time. I found the way the teacher introduced the concepts of 12hr and 24hr clocks extremely effective as the children responded very well and appeared to be confident in their understanding. This lesson was also helpful and educational for me as a student teacher as time is a concept I previously felt nervous and unsure of how to introduce to a class as I myself struggled to understand this at school. However after getting the chance to obverse this lesson and the teaching styles used throughout i now feel that I have a better understanding of what style of teaching and resources to use.
Throughout the course of my placement I feel I behaved in a professional and helpful manner. Where there were opportunities I made effort to show initiative and always display enthusiasm. Through the use of my self evaluation, peer observation and mentor observations I can now identify areas of development to work on so that I can progress in my practice and education. An example of suggested areas to improve were speaking at an appropriate and slower pace and my hesitation before answering questions. Overall I feel these areas can be improved through working on my confidence as if I feel confident in what I am saying to the class I wont feel the need to rush my sentences or be hesitant due to nerves.
Firstly, while comparing my observation checklist with my partners I noticed we had similar views on the areas of strength shown by the teacher and the areas that could be improved. Although, something that surprised me while watching the videos is how often we may not recognise how our pupils are responding to our lessons until we receive feedback. I found it interesting that one teacher regularly recorder her lessons so she could easily identify the methods of teaching her students responded to and the methods they didn’t.
After watching the videos, I feel I gained vital knowledge into the importance of feedback and self-evaluation during my teaching career. It is clear the only way we can truly improve our practice is if we reflect on our areas of strengths and work to improve our areas of weakness. If all we are told for feedback is that our work is satisfactory we can never develop and improve as we feel what we are doing is adequate. Bill Gates Ted Talk spoke on how studies have shown that countries who result in the best academic performance provide their teachers with feedback. Thus, this allows teachers to constantly improve throughout their career, resulting in their learners being provided with the best education.
While the videos spoke on the importance of self-evaluation, they also stressed the importance of feedback from our peers / mentors through peer observation. Peer observation provides teachers with an insight into how our teaching methods are being received from a learner point of view and allows us to see which teaching methods are is effective for learners and which methods they interact with best. However, while peer observation and feedback is important, how we receive feedback from others is vital if we are to develop our practice. It is vital to remember to always receive feedback constructively and look at it as a positive way to improve so we can go on to provide our learners with better education. Therefore, when we provide feedback for our peers, which we will experience during placement, it is important to remember to always give constructive feedback and while we should give our peers areas of improvement we should never judge.
Upon reading chapter five it is clear that the main aim of the chapter is to illustrate the many ways in which questions are a vital part of learning. Throughout the chapter there are many themes that are illustrated such as; the effects that questions have on children, the effects of questions in the classroom, how questions can improve relationships and the importance of questions. Within the theme ‘the effects our questions have on children’ it highlights throughout the necessary use of caution when asking children leading questions such as ‘did someone tell you to say that? Did someone tell you to lie’ as using these questions children are more likely to become aggressive and reluctant to answer the questions as they are aware that you do not believe them and in turn they are less likely to tell the truth or confide in you. These claims are backed up in an investigation by the times 2004 surrounding child abuse.
Although I agree with the majority of the authors comments throughout the chapter I do disagree with particular quote within the ‘questions and control’ section. During the section the author quotes Bold (2009) “questions allow the questioner to control the conversation by requesting to engage the addressee to engage with a specific topic” while questions allow the questioner to decide the conversations direction they do not know the addressee’s knowledge on the certain subject and therefore the addressee could quickly gain control of the conversation.
Overall, I found the chapter a very beneficial read. It provided a deeper insight into the many different types of questions and the way they can shape conversations and/or relationships. Most importantly I feel the chapter highlighted the importance of being mindful in the way we ask questions to young children as it can greatly improve or affect their learning.
‘Finding out about others: the skill of questioning’ Hargie, O. (2011).Skilled Interpersonal Communiction: Research, Theory and Practice. 5th ed. London: Routledge.
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