The student teacher exhibits confident control over a variety of approaches to classroom pedagogy. In direct presentations, s/he demonstrates sensitivity to pacing, timing, amount and sequencing of material, and form of presentations, as well as inviting student contributions and interactions. Questioning strategies are thoughtful, considering a range and arc of questions that develop logically from simple to complex. Group work is used effectively and students are carefully coached on the purpose and strategies of collaboration. Work required of students clearly reinforces basic skills (reading, writing, note-taking, oral presentations, listening) and builds toward more complex mastery (critical thinking, problem-solving, analysis, and synthesis). Technology skills are incorporated into lessons as frequently as possible, with the student teacher modeling the use of technology whenever possible.
Teacher Education Handbook, Secondary Education 2011-2012
After completing my work at Brown Summer High School, I believe I have begun Brown University Practice-Based Standard Four: Classroom Practice.
Whereas I am sensitive “to pacing, timing, amount and sequencing of material,” and I certainly invite student responses, I can improve the speed of my presentations, my wait time, and focus. M.C. Gore in his Inclusion Strategies for Secondary Classrooms gives great advice to fast-pacing teachers when he asks us to “simply slow down” (Gore 70). He explains: “A morpheme is a unit of meaning…Nine morphemes per statement is the maximum that people can understand without loss of meaning.” (Gore 70) If I slow down my presentations, prioritize the content I attempt to teach, make clearer statements divided by enough time to process information, and provide students with sufficient wait time to respond to my questions or reflect on what has been taught, I will be able to approach or meet this standard.
Another area where my performance is lacking is in preparing students for group work. Although I used group work throughout the course at Brown Summer High School, I do not believe I provided careful enough coaching or set explicit purposes to explain most of such work. The most successful group work assignment of the summer was the final monitored discussion. The students received clearly defined roles, they knew what our expectations were, and they successfully followed directions while working independently. I realized during that activity that the more explicit detail I put into my directions for group work, the easier this work becomes in practice.
Finally, I do not believe I incorporated many technology skills into my lessons this summer. Cope and Kalantzis make a prophecy in their essay New Media, New Learning when they write: “The new digital media will change the face of education” (Cope 87), and I believe the academic impact of this statement shall not be ignored. Good teachers of the 21st century need to take pedagogical advantage of fast-developing technology for two reasons: to prepare students to succeed in life defined by rapid technological progress, and to keep content real and applicable for students’ lives which are heavily rooted in technology. Whereas I fully understand the value of incorporating technology into classroom practice, I have not been able to do it as effectively as I wish. In the course of the summer, I made three Power Point presentations, we showed several video clips through a projector, and we listened to some music from the Civil Rights Movement. That was the extent of my teaching with technology. I think that a semester-long class will provide me with more opportunities to use technology, and I hope to incorporate it into my lessons on a regular basis.
Thus, to meet Standard Four: Classroom Practice, these are the things I need to improve:
1. I need to pay special attention to the pacing of my oral presentations, wait time as students process information, and prioritizing content as I present information in direct teacher presentation or discussions.
2. I need to continue working on setting explicit and clear directions, particularly for student group work. Because of some success I achieved in this area, I now know what these directions should look like, and I certainly know first-hand how helpful they are to effective student participation.
3. I need to continue finding ways of incorporating technology into my lessons.