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Inside Teaching : June 2010
Inside Teaching | June 2010 10 THINGS I'VE LEARNED... 22 is of the quality of the whole school. Like all assessment, it can indicate where improvement in teaching practice and school policy is needed, but use a variety of assessment tools to get a broader picture -- your teaching practice should be based on the evidence that variety of assessment provides. Help students understand that feedback and assessment is useful for guiding their learning. It's not a competition. 7Continuous professional development is essential. Some of the best professional development comes from colleagues, especially if there's a climate of professional trust developed through collaborative planning, knowing what is happening in other classrooms, sharing, not only war stories, but also frank professional discussions about what works and what doesn't. I found that by devoting staff meeting time to professional learning, all teachers, including specialists and the teacher- librarian, could be involved in developing a transdisiplinary Kinder to Year 6 program of structured enquiry, based on the International Baccalaureate model. The program was designed to complement the learning areas of the core curriculum, by exploring their interrelatedness so that students could deepen their understanding of how the world works. It was a great way to promote professional discourse and debate, and to recognise and value the talents and strengths on the staff. Keeping up with current research is essential and a good way to do that is to have a staff 'professional reading' book club. 8If possible, make parents your partners. You have the same job description: to make a successful adult. According to research, 50 per cent of student achievement can be attributed to the characteristics of the incoming student and 30 per cent to the teacher. I have learned from my current work in programs involving parents and children that it's invaluable to have the parent as a learner and teacher with the child and for parents to be able to understand the how and why of what we teachers do, and to be inspired and have the confidence to continue at home. 9Be positive and authoritative with compassion, not in an authoritarian way. Building self value in your students through the use of positive feedback and praise is very important, but students need to feel that their achievement is authentic, that they've earned it. It's a fine line. Too much praise and too little challenge builds dependence on external affirmation and constant attention. Too little praise and too much challenge builds defeat and disengagement. This applies to everyone! 10Lastly, I have learned that a good teacher is an inspirational teacher. Teaching is an art. A good teacher will engender in students a love behaviour management usually falls into place. Having a well- resourced library, including technology resources, staffed by a teacher-librarian is one of the greatest assets a class teacher can have. A teacher-librarian can play a pivotal role in equipping children with the information and technological literacy skills they need to navigate knowledge with a critical eye. 5Be a performer. Use humour and keep your teaching lively and interesting. Use a range of teaching approaches -- drama, role-play, enquiry, cooperative learning groups and such like. Children need to experience things to understand. A great deal of the most successful and deepest learning in life is done at a rapid rate before the age of five. Most of that learning is done through play. Love is learned from playing with parents and family. Speaking a language, literacy and making music are learned by playing with and mimicking sounds. Social skills are learned from playing with others. Knowledge of the world is learned through play that involves experimentation, improvisation and making mistakes. Play involves thinking and making adjustments based on prior experience. Play builds independence. It's a wonderful model for learning through experience. Use it! 6Use a range of assessment tools. Performance testing is only one assessment tool and no more the sole indicator of the quality of your whole program than it