Although things did not turn out as anticipated (Journal Part 1), workshop number 2 at ‘Lake G’ did prove to be valuable for exploring issues surrounding teacher’s responsibilities and qualities. We explored key principles affecting classroom practice, informed by documentation including: Teacher Professional Standards, ACT Teachers’ Code of Professional Conduct, Duty of Care, OH & S, Mandatory Reporting and Excursion considerations. The material was relevant for equipping all pre-service teachers to “know how to support students’ wellbeing and safety working within school and system curriculum and legislative requirements”, as outlined on the AITSL Teacher Standards website (http://www.teacherstandards.aitsl.edu.au/).
The focus of discussions were not discipline-specific, however, the delivery was enhanced by having a discipline-specific teacher imparting experiences of how it worked out in our particular subject area. A strength of the way the material was delivered was the responsiveness of the teacher to questions we had. These were used to shape what was said and was also a good model of directives in the first workshop for us to encourage students to be comfortable asking questions. This strategy affords students the opportunity to engage in the material and to have input into what is being taught. Könings, Brand-Gruwel & van Merriënboer (2010), is an example of researchers advocating for greater understanding and involvement of students in the learning process. However, a limitation of this approach is that students could use questions to manipulate the direction of the class in an unhelpful way.
Aside from taking questions, the workshop did not model a range of other teaching strategies. The content was largely presented in a lecture-style format. In this case the class remained engaged because of its relevance, yet more could have been done to make use of other strategies as well. This is the same across all disciplines, but is definitely a challenge with the specific discipline of mathematics. Our workshop teacher had previously identified mathematics as largely instructional, but advocated for incorporating other styles into our teaching practice. This has been a recurring message in much of the material presented in my degree and in literature on teaching and will be an ongoing challenge to implement in my mathematics classes.
- Könings, K. D., Brand-Gruwel, S., & van Merriënboer, J. G. (2010). An approach to participatory instructional design in secondary education: an exploratory study. Educational Research, 52(1), 45-59. doi:10.1080/00131881003588204