- Briefly describe the context in which you are undertaking professional experience (organisation, year group, number of students, socio-economic make up, learner characteristics etc.).
The school I am undertaking professional experience at is Loyola Senior High School, in Mount Druitt. The school is divided up into two different sections, a normal senior high school as well as a trade school, which allows students to get credit towards their chosen trade (mechanics, carpentry, hairdressing etc.) The school is consisted of only year 11 and year 12 students. There are a small number of students that we work with on a regular basis. We work in a learning support area, where the students we work with come in during their study breaks as well as have maths classes in. Other students are welcome also to come in to study or get help with their assessments or class work. Throughout each day, we are at the school, we go to different classes (both mainstream high school and trade school) and assist not only the students we work with, but other students if they need help (much like a teacher’s aid). The catholic school is amongst the few around the area, having another senior high school right next to them, along with another high school just down the road from them as well. The students we work with have a vast array of different learning characteristics. Some suffer from major anxiety, in which they come in to the learning support for a bit of a support before they go to their classes. Other students have learning difficulty, where they can only perform at a primary school level. The school also has a few refugee students, with limited English speaking and writing.
- Which learning and motivational theories were used in the classroom? How effective were these approaches in supporting student engagement and academic achievement? Reflect on your own observations as well as research to support your claims.
There has only been a limited number of theories I have been able to pick up on while on Community Engagement placement. The first one is Social Cognitive. Social cognitive theory, focuses on how the student will be able to learn, through the interaction with others (Woolfolk & Margetts, 2016). This can also reflect on the Bobo Doll Experiment, where children observe the behaviour of others, and will react, if they get a positive outcome out of a particular behaviour (Woolfolk & Margetts, 2016). The teachers approached this in a positive way, and this is done by praising a particular student for their work, setting the example for the rest of the class. The teacher would at first ask the student if they can show their work to the rest of the class, because it matched the teacher’s expectations. The class would be stopped for a moment and be shown the ‘perfect’ work to the rest of the class. This could’ve went in two different ways. One way would’ve allowed the children to observe the ideal work that the teacher has presented and try and imitate it to get the best marks they can. The other effect could’ve left that particular student to be bullied and be excluded, socially, by the rest of the class.
Another theory is Maslow’s hierarchy. In this theory, an individual’s behaviour is motivated by seeking to fulfil a hierarchy of things (Woolfolk & Margetts, 2016). When it comes to seeking fulfilment in these needs, things like self-respect and creativity, cannot be achieved without the fulfilment of survival needs, such as food & shelter (Woolfolk & Margetts, 2016). However, this theory is used in negatively, rather than in a positive attitude. Example of this is where the teacher abusing the children in a way that, it is affecting the relationship between one student and another. The class was working on their e-portfolio for their retail subject, taking photographs of them demonstrating safe manual handling. The teacher would send the students back to re-take the photos, without telling them what they were doing wrong. It got to the stage where the teacher would be putting the students down, using terms like “your torturing your friend” & “you’re getting your friend to do this again, you’re not a good friend are you?”. Looking at Maslow’s theory, this is affecting the students’ confidence and self-esteem.
In a way, different teachers have used these theories in a classroom. However, one has used a theory, in which it supports student’s engagement, attempting to improve their academic achievement. The other theory on the other hand, does quite the opposite, which can result in a student being disengaged in class, affecting their grades. It all comes down to how the teacher uses these theories, in a way to motivate students to achieving excellence academically.
- How did the teacher cater for the needs of diverse learners? How effective was this approach in supporting student engagement and academic achievement? Reflect on your own observations, the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST), as well as research to support your claims.
The teacher catered to the needs of those who have learning difficulties by doing several different things. First option was allowing someone from learning support to be working with the student one on one within the classroom environment, rather than isolating them from the school community. Another thing that the teachers do to cater to these students with learning difficulties is helping those in the learning support faculty with altering their assessments and class work to suit their needs. In terms of this, they will still be learning the outcomes for that particular course, in a way that they will understand. An example of this is for a student’s computer application class, the teacher has gone through with the learning support staff, to alter one of their students’ classwork, so they can be able to understand the work at their level of intelligence. By doing this, the teacher is somewhat making the child’s learning engaging and valuable for their needs, implementing fair and equal classwork for all students. On top of all this, the classroom teachers are also still having one on one talks with the students, just like they would with any other student. These conversations between the student and their classroom teacher are beneficial, as treating the students with learning difficulties the same as any other student, not isolating them from the rest of the class.
In terms of following Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, this classroom teacher that I have mentioned above follows the guidelines of professional practice and engagement. For professional practice, teachers are supposed to know the students and how they learn (BOSTES, 2015). By knowing how their students learn, they can implement the course content in ways that will engage the students in their learning. Another aspect which the teachers show is creating and maintain supportive and safe learning environments (BOSTES, 2015). This can be through the way the classroom tables are set out, the way the teacher teaches the course content or the way they encourage students to achieve academic excellence. While these are some of the ways the teachers cater for the needs of those with learning difficulties, it is shown that they are following guidelines, made by the Board Of Studies Teaching & Educational Standards of New South Wales.
- Choose a challenging situation that occurred within the classroom setting. Using the principles of action research, explain how you might approach this situation differently in the future.
There really haven’t been any challenging situations in the classroom setting at my professional experience this semester. However, I am able to choose a situation to talk about. I was put into a retail class, to help the students work on their portfolios, as well as the classwork given for that lesson. Once the class started, the students were quite disruptive and loud. For the teacher, it was frustrating, because she was unable to get their students, attention. Throughout the lesson, I was able to see why the students were disruptive and not listening to the teacher. This was because of the way the teacher was treating the students. The teacher would be putting the students down, especially when it comes to setting up their portfolio (same class I spoke about in question 2). The way the teacher was speaking to her students was what I thought to be unacceptable. Being a volunteer in the school I was unable to say something to the teacher directly, as I was a guest to her class. However, I was able to talk to the learning support teacher that was with me, after the class, along with the other members of the learning support faculty about it. To me, this can be avoided by the way you treat your students. If you intended to treat your students with respect, you should get the same in return, where they will listen in class, and not be as disruptive. However, just like this situation, this is caused by giving disrespect to the students, which would impact their motivation to learn in that class.