It’s begun…

So I finally got started in my course and it’s all been a bit of a flurry. I’m studying two units this semester:
  • EDLT485 – Promoting Student Learning
  • EDIT914 – Teaching Secondary Computing Studies, Foundation
The first one, EDLT485, is the major foundation for the whole course, and is aimed at helping you learn about learning and teaching, looking at different ways to analyse intelligene, how important it is to vary your approaches for students who learn differently to others, and how to manage such a diverse classroom. Gone are the days of old that I remember when the teacher simply stood at the front of the room in front of a blackboard, with a couple of pieces of chalk ad talked at you for the whole lesson, with you randomly scribbling notes alternately to your friends for gossip and to yourself to remember important points – now all types of learning are explored and encouraged to be handled in your classroom when you become a teacher.
The second unit is where I start to learn specifically about teaching IT to high school students. However, the first couple of weeks have been another revelation in general self-analysis and exploration of teaching techniques.
Besides having a couple of days of overwhelming "OMG" over just how much information was being thrown at me all at once, I am feeling the most energised I have in a long time and am enjoying the reflective nature of the first week’s activities in both subjects.
One in particular struck me as slightly humourous… the question was "What did you learn about effective teaching when you completed the reflection exercise on p.8 in Chapter 1 of your text?" Basically, the reflection exercise involved thinking about significant teachers and moments during my learning and I thought it would be worth re-posting my thoughts:
As I thought back to the teachers I’ve had, I was struck by the fact that most of my memories of good "teaching" actually came once I was out on the workforce and were usually a case of learning on the job, backed by a limited amount of knowledge but an effective mentor/tutor.
The two guys in particular I am thinking of both had a great knack of answering a question with a question that required me to think through the issue further but they didn’t just leave me standing out in the cold. They would spend the time to work through the problem at hand with me so that we both came to the conclusion at the same time. By far, I learnt the most, with the least amount of effort through these times. This is a combination of the hands on practical with the relational behaviour of both teachers.
At school itself, I could only think of two teachers (and none at university) that had an impact on me. The most profound learning moment I had was with the head teacher for our year and also was Head of English. I had answered an essay question in an exam and got a perfect 10/10. My mother questioned this as she (at that time) believed that no one should be able to get a perfect score in English. When she read my essay and compared it to what was asked in the exam, she questioned it even further because she felt that it hadn’t answered the question properly. The teacher’s response was that he agreed that I hadn’t answered the question as intended but that he could see how I might have interpreted the question as I did, and therefore decided to mark my essay accordingly. On finding that my arguments were eloquent and did a good job (I think he word was fantastic :)) of answering the question with little flaws evident, he felt compelled to give me a top score.
This had a huge impact on me personally and encouraged me to apply myself to learning more than any other single event in my educational time. I think him defending me added weight to me believing in him as a teacher, and I have respected him ever since. Add to that he was very relational in his approach to all of the students and fostered a great deal of trust amongst us. I knew that I could trust him with any kind of problem I was facing, not just schoolwork.
The other teacher was my Physics guy – we mucked up no end in class and yet, always somehow came away learning something. He let us run riot a fair bit, but it enabled me to get the jiggles out of the system and let the lesson sink into my subconscious while I was mucking up.
So, for me, effective teaching included two major components – relational aspects and a hands on/practical nature.
I must admit to writing an extra paragraph which I ended up omitting as I didn’t want to offend the lecturer in my first week, but I’ll be a little bit brave and post it here:
However, my big thought this week hasn’t been to do with my previous teachers at all, but with the very nature of the material for this course.  As I have struggled to read (well, re-read multiple times as brain-fuzz kicked in) through the prescribed chapters, I have been wondering how someone so V-S and relational is going to cope in a course that is both online and quite sequential in nature. In chapter one there is a section that is 10 or so pages long without even subheadings to break it up! It is essential that we be able to learn through variety of techniques so that we are able to teach through a variety of techniques.
I’m still nutting through this and don’t have an answer… wonder if I’ll have one by the end of the unit? 🙂
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