Critical reflection of experiences in the classroom
My first experience in a school setting was back at the start of 2017 where I did my first placement for community engagement. I was placed at a special needs school in Lindfield with another of my cohort to gain experience from prac placement before my first teaching experience in a school. I acted as a support teacher in a small class of nine students who had a range of disabilities and from a range of ages. Being smaller classes I was able to spend more one on one time with the students while they were completing their assigned class work. I found that these students worked better on their own as they would disturb or distress their peers if they worked in groups, I found that behaviourism was an effective learning theory to help the students learn in the activities set out for them. One such activity which I was part of was the class trip up to the local Coles to purchase supplies for the school canteen. This activity developed the student’s life skills and allowed them to interact with people of the public to develop their social skills. I was sent to assist Peter a year 9 student, in particular, complete the tasks he had to complete while at the supermarket, this student, in particular, struggled with differentiating coins and prices of the items he had selected when it came to paying at the checkout. With some guidance, he managed to give the correct amount of money and collected his change. Once back in class I was asked to set a task that would improve the student’s ability to count the right amount of money that is required to purchase certain items from a shop. In this reflection I can draw a link to the Australian Professional Standards for teachers, the standard one: Know students and how they learn in particular with focus areas 1.5 Differentiate teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities and 1.6 Strategies to support full participation of students with disability (AITSL, 2011).
Following my community engagement placement in 2017 I then went on my first professional experience placement at Northern Beaches Secondary College: Cromer Campus where I was to teach junior high school English to a year seven and a year eight class under the supervision of the teacher who’d normally take the class. I had some issues while completing this prac and teaching the class. For this reflection, I’ll be focusing on my issue with my first teaching experience. Being the first time in a mainstream school I was nervous on how my first day would go teaching the year seven class I was assigned the Roald Dahl focus area in which I had only three classes to teach it in. My issue was that prior to this placement I had little to no knowledge or skills on actually teaching a class in high school as all the units I had done or currently completing did not give any assistance on lesson planning, classroom management or setting assessments to name a few and no study of English pedagogy and syllabus. This affected how I was to teach my class as I hadn’t ever seen a proper lesson plan format before so planning what to teach for the three classes I had to use powerpoint presentation style lessons to make the most of my teaching. It was my supervising teacher who assisted me in proper preparation as he showed me how to navigate the current English syllabus in use at the time. I had the same issues when it came to teaching the year eight class although my main issue for this class was managing the students who were easily distracted. Looking back on this reflection now I can draw links to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, standard three – Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning to apply to my issues with this reflection focus area 3.2 Plan, structure and sequence learning programs (AITSL, 2011) in particular as I found it difficult to plan proper lessons without the relevant skills I have now gained after completing and currently completing my CPA pedagogy units for stages 4-6.
The third reflection I am doing is also based on my most recent practical experience at Cromer Campus in 2017. The focus will be from my year eight English class that I was tasked with teaching the topic of quest fantasy and the hero’s journey. I was excited to be teaching this topic as the fantasy genre is something I am passionate about so I hadn’t many issues when it came to teaching this topic to my year eights. The primary goal for my year eights was to get them to design their own fantasy world or the basis for one by the end of my sequence of four classes. I will be providing an activity which I tasked the students to do during the class. I used a mixture of cognitivism and constructivism in my classes to best suit my students learning needs. This activity I implemented in my third class as I believed that was when my class had properly grasped the idea of fantasy and the hero’s journey and how a fantasy story should be structured. I will attach the worksheet below. Once the students had completed the worksheet I found that they had higher levels of motivation to create their own unique stories, I noticed that several students had woven their own experiences and identities into their work when reading over their completed scaffolds for the creative assessment I would have handed out. In this task, I have drawn links to several aspects of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. These include Standard 2 – Know the content and how to teach it, focus areas 2.1 Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area and 2.2 Content selection and organisation (AITSL, 2011) and Standard 3 – Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning, focus area 3.2 Plan, structure and sequence learning programs (AITSL, 2011)
Worksheet used in class:
I used this video as a hook for my class before diving into the story creation
My last reflection is once again drawn from my recent prac at Cromer campus. It has been difficult to reflect on experiences, issues or aspects of teaching as I had little time at the school to really gather a substantial amount to reflect on. However, the last class I had with the year eights involved some issues and experiences that I can reflect on as it involved the use of ICT and time in the school’s computer rooms. The final task for my class was to write a draft of the fantasy story they had been developing in previous lessons on the computers as part of their lesson outcomes. The issues that had become evident in the computer room as the majority of the class were troubled students who struggled with attention and self-directed learning which made classroom management difficult. I found that splitting up the friend groups throughout the class helped keep the students focused on their stories which allowed me to rotate around the class assisting students who needed guidance on developing a well-structured creative story. I can draw links between this reflection and the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers which include Standard 2 – Know the content and how to teach it (AITSL, 2011), focus area 2.6 Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Standard 4 – Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments, focus areas 4.2 Manage classroom activities and 4.3 Manage challenging behaviour (AITSL, 2011). These Standards I found were the most relevant to my experience of that class in particular.
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership. (2011). Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. https://www.aitsl.edu.au/teach/standards