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Reflections on Teaching.

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PGCE Mathematics Curriculum Studies Assignment 1 Reflections on Teaching By Graham Slarke Deadline Date 20.01.2003 Tutor: Sonia Jones Contents Introduction Page 3 Features of the Class Page 3 Differentiation of Ability Page 4 Teaching and Class Management and Control Page 5 Misconceptions and Learning Difficulties Page 10 Assessment and Feedback Page 11 Contribution to Lessons Page 12 Review of Pupils' Progress Page 13 Evaluations and Modifications Page 14 Bibliography Page 16 Appendices Index Page 17 Introduction During the term of school placement, I was placed at School X where I taught a variety of topics to two year 7 classes, a year 8 class and a year 10 class. I taught these classes continuously from half-term until my placement at School X ended. School X adopts a policy of grouping mathematics pupils according to their ability. For the purpose of this assignment, I will focus on my experiences with the "bottom set" of Year 7. Features of the Class The class consisted of 26 pupils aged 11 and 12. These pupils are from differing backgrounds and have vastly differing personalities, as highlighted by Denvir: "Low attainers......... will not form a homogenous group. Their only common characteristic may be low attainment in mathematics." (Denvir et al, 1982, page 17). While the class was deemed to have low mathematical ability, I was surprised to find such a wide range of ability within the set. This is confirmed by the findings of Kyriacou: "Even in classes composed of pupils selected as being of relatively similar ability, there exists a marked range of ability." (Kyriacou, 1986, page 82) To familiarize myself with the pupils of the class, and their individual characteristics, I compiled a "characteristic cloud" (see appendix 1) for each of the pupils. These provided valuable information that I used to plan lessons and arrange classroom activities. Whilst composing this information, I was very mindful of ensuring that I didn't fall into the trap of "teacher labeling" identified by Kyriacou (1986).1 There was a general lack of confidence and many of the pupils labeled themselves as poor mathematicians. ...read more.


Teacher - "Good, Pupil C. Can you now tell us what you think the answer is." Pupil C - "21.30, sir." Teacher - "Good. And how did you work that out?" I felt that ensuring pupil C apologized would encourage mutual respect in the classroom and would also ensure that pupils would not feel discouraged from answering questions in the future. I also involved Pupil C in the lesson immediately to demonstrate that the behaviour had been dealt with and would not be dwelt upon. I also felt that this was a better approach than berating or lecturing Pupil C: "The language used should be adult and should be firm when learners react with childish behaviour. Shouting is resented by young people and should be avoided." (Backhouse et al, 1992, page 8) In a subsequent lesson, I discovered that the pupils are very enthusiastic about quizzes. For subsequent lessons, I offered the incentive of having a quiz at the end of every lesson, if the class had tried hard during the lesson. "The opportunity to engage in a preferred activity seems a sensible incentive to offer pupils, provided it is dependant upon their working satisfactorily for the rest of the time." (Robertson, 1981, page 124) I evolved the plenary of lessons to take the form of a quiz. To involve ALL pupils, I issued each pupil with an individual whiteboard and pen. The questions would always focus upon the main body of the lesson. Typical questions would be(units of measure lesson):- * In what units would we measure a road? (metres would be written on the whiteboards) * How many centimeters are there in 1metre? (100) * Can anybody think of another word that starts with "CENT" to remind us of 100? This question would have several answers e.g. century, centipede, centurion, cents.7 (This also served as a useful means of assessment - see later). ...read more.


(Kyriacou, 1986, page 114). Whilst I planned lessons in advance, I remained flexible and responsive to the needs of pupils, satisfying Andrews' requirements: "Weaker teachers are more didactic, have difficulty managing pupils' responses and adhere too rigidly to their lesson plans." (Andrews, 1997, quoted in Tanner & Jones, 2002). During my time teaching, I was continually identifying areas in which I could improve. One of these areas is to explore alternative ways of explaining a concept. During some lessons, I would explain a concept and some pupils would still not fully grasp it. Sometimes I would be "thinking on my feet" about how to explain this concept from a different approach. During later lessons, I always rehearsed at least two methods of explaining each concept. Kyriacou notes: "It is interesting to note that a teacher's ability to explain things clearly is widely perceived to be one of the most important teaching skills." (Kyriacou, 1986, page 61) Although I perceived no problems with CMC, after establishing parameters of behaviour during my early lessons, I was expecting a "backlash" that never came. But I am mindful of Robertson's statement and would like to be fully prepared for the most difficult classes. "the pupils first find it necessary to explore whether or not the teacher has the tactical and managerial skills to defend the parameters he or she is seeking to establish." (Robertson, 1981, page 50) Additional areas, which I have targeted for improvement, are: - * Variety of tasks used to induce learning; * Strive to make resources as interesting as possible; * Improved use of anecdotes and voice to encourage enthusiasm. * Time management Further areas for improvement may be identified during my next placement. This assignment represents a candid reflection upon my teaching experience with one Year 7 class. I have, wherever appropriate, referenced relevant educational literature in a concerted attempt to explain why I acted, and pupils reacted, in the ways identified. ...read more.

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