The second episode of my podcast is now available. Have a listen here:
The first episode of my new podcast is now available. Have a listen here:
“Despite the overwhelming lack of evidence that they [learning styles] have any effect on outcomes, apparently almost 90 per cent of teachers believe that different people have different learning styles, and that if we want them to learn a thing we have to present it in the way they learn best.” (Didau, 2015, p. 42)
The above comes from David Didau’s book What if everything you knew about education was wrong? (well worth a read, by the way). When push comes to shove, it is not the preferences of an individual learner or a group of learners that determines how content is taught, it is the content itself. The visual, auditory and kinaesthetic (VAK) individual learning styles approach is just not helpful at all. Continue reading
The idea behind Aistear, in a nutshell, is that children will learn through play. I have no problem with learning through play. I have no problem with play as a spontaneous, child-led activity – where children set their own rules and decide on what they want to do. I have no problem with developing skills through play – as children have always done this. I have no problem with facilitating an infant class at the beginning of the school day (reception time) with a selection of toys and activities, where they can choose what they want to do with them and pretend on their own terms – or not pretend at all.
The issue I have with Aistear (the thematic and play-based learning approach in Ireland) is that it is, at its core, an imposed form of play. Continue reading
It is around this time of year that students in their second year of the various Professional Master of Education courses launch properly into the writing and supervision processes of their 10,000-word dissertations. With many competing workload demands, it may seem difficult to dedicate the proper amount of time to this responsibility. I have given some thought to this element of the PME course and have compiled some tips in order to assist students. Continue reading
Every qualified teacher was once a student teacher on placement. A huge part of the experience involves the host teacher – whomever that is, it is generally out of the control of the student. It is important for the host teacher to have the correct frame of mind if she decides to offer her class to a student on placement.
Here are a number of suggestions for teachers who will host a student or who will at some point consider it:
- You were once where the student is now. Try to remember the huge effort that the student will most likely put in every day in order to prepare for placement. It can be a stressful experience, so make sure to offer some advice or guidance whenever you deem it appropriate. It might seem like a small gesture but it can make a massive difference for a student.
- Offer your classroom resources for use by the student. These are for the children anyway – tell your student not to buy anything that you already have access to in your school. Remember how expensive it can be for a student who most likely won’t be earning any money during the weeks of school placement.
- You should want to have a student in your classroom. If this is the case, that’s great. If this is not the case and you have been told by your principal that you’ll be getting a student regardless of your view on the matter, please make the most of the situation. The student will pick up very quickly the feeling of not being welcome if you don’t engage in any real or meaningful way with them, and this will add difficulty to her time in your classroom, as well as being a stressful experience.
- You, as the host teacher, are ultimately responsible for the teaching and learning in the classroom. If you observe something that you consider worthy of note (good or bad practice), discuss this with the student. You are the qualified, experienced professional and you should share your wisdom with the student if you observe bad practice, but remember to deal with this tactfully. Equally, affirm the student on her good practice. Your feedback is more important to the student than you might think.
- When their supervisor/tutor comes to assess them, please be honest with them when they ask how the student is doing. Praise their strengths and suggest areas for improvement. Although School Placement is an examination, it is also a learning experience for the student.
- You should always feel free to have a look at the student’s planning folder, but mention it to the student first as a matter of courtesy if you intend on doing this. You may have suggestions for improvement and these may make a difference to the student’s planning grade.
This is not an exhaustive list and they are my own views on how to help students on placement. If you can add to the above suggestions or would like to suggest amendments, please feel free to leave a comment below.
Every serving qualified teacher in Ireland will have undertaken School Placement (previously called Teaching Practice) as a partial requirement for their teaching qualification. Experiences during this placement will vary. If there is one prominent trait that I have noticed from my own previous experience as well as from having spoken to others in the same boat, it is inconsistency.
A School Placement Tutor assesses the student teacher, after all, the placement is technically an examination. When correcting or assessing an examination, a marking rubric or an assessment checklist should be used to ensure fairness and consistency. I have no doubt that such a checklist or rubric is supposed to be used when assessing a student teacher on placement, however what strikes me is how the tutor’s own subjectivity and personal preferences can play a part in the overall feedback or grade. Continue reading