Monday, April 30, 2007

Great Advice

One of my amazing teacher just give me some great advice and I thought I would share it with you.

1. Good behaviour management starts with good planning and pedagogy. If you get them in they are less likely to misbehave.

2. You need a relationship with the following qualities - respectful, fair and consistent. Do not be overly friendly. They have friends. You are their Teacher!

3. Work towards them trusting you.

4. Give them opportunities for success - in what ever way you can. Constant failure leads to misbehaviour.

5. If they think you are unfair, fake, boring, sarcastic, cruel, a bully, disorganised, ill-prepared or inflexible you are making life hard for yourself.

6. Do not humiliate kids in front of their peers. If a kid is doing the wrong thing, have a quiet word so others are not listening, take the kid aside or outside, talk to them at at lunch - if you make an enemy you create a problem.

7. Do not accept unacceptable behaviour. Draw a clear line in the sand. Demand kids are polite and repectful.

8. Do not be too familiar, particularly with kids who are new to you - in time they will want a closer relationship - do not hurry this.

9. Have honest conversations with your suppervisors - but do not open up too much with other members of the staff - show confidence - fake it until you make it!

10. Detentions are a poor tool in changing behaviour. If it is needed use the time to talk and build a relationship, not to punish.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Bag -- you take to every class

I promise that once I start prac (in 10 days!!!!!) I will post more about my own personal experiences and will stop posting as mant checklists : )

** Timetable

** roll

** lesson plans & resources/materials

** emergency activity to do (find-a-work or game)

** bottle of water

** snack

** throat lozenges

** painkillers (I sometimes get bad headaches)

Anything else I have forgotten?

Self-Evaluation Questionnaire

How Do You Teach?

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH YOUR HANDS? Gesture? Keep them in your pockets? Hold onto the podium? Play with the chalk? Hide them so students won't see them shake?

WHERE DO YOU STAND OR SIT? Behind the podium? On the table?

WHEN DO YOU MOVE TO A DIFFERENT LOCATION? Never? At regular ten-second intervals? When you change topics? When you need to write something on the board/overhead? When you answer a student's question? At what speed do you move? Do you talk and move at the same time?

WHERE DO YOU MOVE? Back behind the podium? Out to the students? To the blackboard?

WHERE DO YOUR EYES MOST OFTEN FOCUS? On your notes? On the board/overhead? Out the window? On a spot on the wall in the back of the classroom? On the students? Could you tell who was in class today without having taken role?

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU FINISH ONE CONTENT SEGMENT AND ARE READY TO MOVE ONTO THE NEXT? Say okay? Ask if there are any student questions? Erase the board? Move to a different location? Make a verbal transition?

WHEN DO YOU SPEAK LOUDER/SOFTER? When the point is very important? When nobody seems to understand? When nobody seems to be listening?

WHEN DO YOU SPEAK FASTER/SLOWER? When an idea is important and you want to emphasize it? When you are behind where you ought to be on the content? When students are asking questions you're having trouble answering?


HOW DO YOU USE EXAMPLES? How often do you include them? When do you include them?

HOW DO YOU EMPHASIZE MAIN POINTS? Write them on the board/overhead? Say them more than once? Ask the students if they understand them? Suggest ways they might be remembered?

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN STUDENTS ARE INATTENTIVE? Ignore them? Stop and ask questions? Interject an anecdote? Point out the consequences of not paying attention? Move out toward them?

DO YOU ENCOURAGE STUDENT PARTICIPATION? How? Do you call on students by name? Do you grade it? DO you wait for answers? Do you verbally recognize quality contributions? Do you correct student answers? On a typical day, how much time is devoted to student talk?

HOW DO YOU BEGIN/END CLASS? With a summary and conclusion? With a preview and a review? With a gasp and a groan? With a bang and a whimper?

The Practicum -- a checklist

Yet another checklist! This one is very important and I will be up-dating it when I think of my questions to add.

Questions to ask my supervising teacher:

1. Find out the subjects, classes and levels will I be teaching (ask for a timetable)

2. Ask for a copy of the unit plan.

3. Do they have a preferred lesson plan layout?

4. Do they have a list of the students grades/marks or do they have any examples of students work -- to establish their learning ability, what they need to improve etc. Are there any students with special needs or learning difficulties?

5. Organise a time to meet once a week to go over lesson plans etc. Do they have a preferred format for a daily/weekly log or journal?

6. The extent that I am allowed to photocopy. What are the procedures?

7. To what extent do I have access to OHP, computers, the internet, TV (DVD and VCR players), access to the library and access to stationary?

8. Do I have access to the online learning?

9. Ask what expectations they have of me.

Outline what the Supervising Teaher can expect from myself:

1. hardworking, organised and professional

2. I will endeavour to have an outline of my Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday lesson plans on the Fridays and the lesson plans for the Thursday and Friday on Mondays (I hope that makes sense). Is email ok?

3. I am here to learn in any and everyway. If they need help for anything at all. I would love to be involved in any extra curricula activities etc.

4. Give the teacher a note with my name, address, email address and phone number

5. Outline my main goal -- to improve and develop my teaching style. To improve my weaknesses and strengthen my strengths.

Important information to get from the school:

1. General school policies and procedures

2. Fire drill and lock down procedures

3. Behaviour management policy

4. School Map and out of bounds areas

During Observation WeeK:

1. Learn students names as soon as possible

2. Learn classroom routines

3. Follow the routines the teacher has already established

Icebreaker Activity Idea

I think this is the activity that I will use to introduce myself and get to know the students during my first lesson.


Students will learn things about each other (and the teacher) they might not normally learn and have fun.


Index cards, creativity, and a sense of humor

Activities and Strategies:

1. Pass out index cards.
2. Instruct students to write three statements about themselves. One must be a true statement. The other two must be untrue. (The more outrageous all three statements are, the better. Encourage students to think of odd information about themselves that no one would be able to know if it were true or false.)
3. Have either the student or a group leader read off the card. After all three statements have been read, have the students vote on which statement they believe to be true. Then have the student in question reveal the truthful statement.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I found out where in going for my first practicum! It is a state high school with around 1300 students and 90+ teachers. From what I can tell it is a largely multicultural school with a number of first generation Australians.

I'm really excited! and a little anxious, worried, scared etc.

My first day is on the 30th of April! Only 12 days away! I have so many things to do and so little time.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Currently reading

To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher -- William Ayers

"Teaching is an interactive practice that begins and ends with seeing the student. This is more complicated than it seems, for it is something that is ongoing and never completely finished. The student grows and changes, the teacher learns, the situation shifts, and seeing becomes an evolving challenge. As layers of mystification and obfuscation are peeled away, as th student becomes more fully present to the teacher, experiences and ways of thinking and knowing that were initially obscure become the ground on which an authentic and vital teaching practice can be constructed."

2007 Teacher Preparation Calendar

My life for the next 8 months!

Blue Sections = Teaching

Purple Sections = Lectures and Tutorials

Building Rapport with Students

** Get to know your students as soon as possible. This includes learning something about each student and learning to deal with various personalities.

** Enter the classroom with confidence. If you seem insecure, the students will realize it and you'll never have control over the class.

** Plan well. The student teaching experience is limited, so create realistic goals for what you want to achieve with your class.

** Use a variety of teaching strategies in the classroom. Plan to use worksheets, games, role playing, group work, and other approaches in order to motivate students as well as help them learn.

** Have a specific discipline plan for the classroom that is coordinated with your cooperating teacher. Start by knowing the school's rules about discipline.

** Smile a lot and have a good sense of humor. It can be contagious.

** Be flexible. A lot of teaching is trial and error. What works for one class may not work for another.


Common Concerns of Student Teachers

Concern: Time/energy involved in preparing classes
Action: Set aside time each day to plan for classes

Concern: Classroom management
Action: Have a plan ready for your first day

Concern: Students' lack of communication skills
Action: Assess where students skills are: give them practice

Concern: Students' lack of interest
Action: Use a variety of teaching approaches: learn students' names

Concern: Emotional and physical demands of teaching full-time
Action: Eat well, get enough rest, and maintain your support network


Friday, April 13, 2007

I just found another great resource for beginning teachers --

This website has a number of videos, which discuss everything from ways to inspire students to behaviour management. What I have found most helpful are the Teaching with John Bayley programs. He works with other teachers to help them improve their classroom technique.

One of the Bayley videos shows a teacher who typically said things like, “Could you maybe start to settle down please.” Bayley asked her if she was asking or telling? If you want them to be quiet, tell them to be quiet and expect them to obey.

I also like this advice: when dealing with a disruptive student move into their personal zone and say quitely: "When you do (x behaviour), it throws me off my mark and I am worried that other students can not learn."

A lot of Bayleys advice is very simple yet effective. Bayley is like the supernanny of the teaching world!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Follow on from the Icebreaker Activity

After reading "The First Year" by Kristi Johnson Smith -- I was thinking maybe I would implement her "Getting to know you" activity. Do you think this is better than the True/False icebreaker activity?

Title: Getting to Know You


You are all amazing people, and I am eager to learn more about each of you. Please help me do so by completing the following handout.

Section I

Please answer questions 1-6.

1. Do you have brothers or sisters? If so, how many?

2. What is your favorite activity?

3. What is your least favorite activity?

4. What is your favorite school subject?

5. Have you been involved (or are you hoping to become involved) in any school activities (clubs, sports, etc.)? If so, which ones?

6. What is your favorite type of music?

Section II

Please complete the sentences below.

7. On the weekends I like to…

8. Someone I admire is because…

9. If I could go anywhere for a day, I would go…

10. I learn the most when the teacher…

11. I learn the most when I…

12. I don’t like it when teachers…

13. I don’t like it when I’m asked to…

14. After high school, I will probably…

15. My ideal job would be…


A must read!

I found this great new blog/essay written by Kristi Johnson Smith. It covers her experiences as a first year teacher. There seems to be a lot of great tips and advice. Check it out:


I like these three rules she has regarding classroom discussions:

1. No one was allowed to interrupt a classmate.
2. All comments had to be loud enough for the entire group to hear (no side conversations).
3. Every comment had to be in some way related to the topic we were discussing.

They seem simple but effective.

Effective Classroom Management

1. Develop a set of written expectations you can live with and enforce.
2. Be consistent. Be consistent. Be consistent.
3. Be patient with yourself and with your students.
4. Make parents your allies. Call early and often. Use the word "concerned." When communicating a concern, be specific and descriptive.
5. Don't talk too much. Use the first 15 minutes of class for lectures or presentations, then get the kids working.
6. Break the class period into two or three different activities. Be sure each activity segues smoothly into the next.
7. Begin at the very beginning of each class period and end at the very end.
8. Don't roll call. Take the roll with your seating chart while students are working.
9. Keep all students actively involved. For example, while a student does a presentation, involve the other students in evaluating it.
10. Discipline individual students quietly and privately. Never engage in a disciplinary conversation across the room.
11. Keep your sense of perspective and your sense of humor.
12. Know when to ask for help

Minute-by-minute monitoring:

* Establish eye contact.
* Move around the room and increase proximity to restless students.
* Send a silent signal.
* Give a quiet reminder.
* Re-direct a student's attention.
* Begin a new activity.
* Offer a choice.
* Use humor.
* Provide positive reinforcement.
* Wait quietly until everyone is on task.
* Ask a directed question.


Classroom Management

Another list for me to go through before I start prac! Can anyone add anything to this list? Do you have any techniques you could share with me?

Beginning of the day (after each recess/transition):

1.___ What signal is in place to get your students' attention?

2.___ What procedure is in place to determine how the students enter the class?

3.___ Do students know what to do for each entry time? (Entering in the morning...write in their journal, after 1st recess...DEAR - drop everything and read etc.)

4.___ What is in place for the disobedient student?

5.___ What do students do with returned homework or notes from home?

During work times - whole or small group:

1.___ What is the signal or routine for leaving your classroom (washroom etc.)?

2.___ What is the procedure for the students finishing early? Be ready for this.

3.___ How do you establish what the acceptable noise level is?

4.___ How do students get help and when do they leave their seats?

5.___ When can students sharpen their pencils or put something in the trash or re-cycle bin?

Student Work:

1.___ What is the routine for incomplete or missed work?

2.___ What is the consequence for late work?

3.___ Where do your students put completed work?

4.___ How do you track student work?


1.___ What routines are in place for dismissal?

2.___ What routines are in place during announcements?

3.___ What are your expectations during group work to ensure students are on task?


Good Advice #2

I know what you are thinking ... yet another list! I actually find this advice really helpful - if you are a pre-service teacher maybe you will too.

1. Let your cooperating teacher know YOUR expectations upfront. Most student teachers feel that they don't have a say in what goes on, but you do.

2. Remind him/her (nicely) that you are there to learn a variety of teaching methods and that you are trying to develop your own teaching style not necessarily just take on his/hers.

3. Jump in right away! Even if you aren't supposed to begin teaching for a while get up and join in. You will gain respect from the teacher and the students. Offer right away to do small tasks such as grading papers or organizing morning work.

4. Treat the students as if you are the actual teacher. Many student teachers try to become friends with them first and when it comes time to teach they have no control.

5. Go with your cooperating teacher everywhere! Sit in on parent/teacher conferences and see if it's okay to observe a child study team in action. This is all part of teaching and you should have experience with this also!

6. Stay in contact with your professor or advisor on a regular basis. If you only see him/her on days they are there to observe, you will be more nervous.

7. Always try your best! I know it's scary to have people constantly observing you but if you are doing your best whether or not they are there it won't be as scary!

8. Don't be afraid to integrate some of your own teaching techniques or classroom management skills. Your cooperating teacher might just learn a new technique from you!

9. Try to get student input about your lessons. If you aren't sure how your lesson went, ask one or two students what they thought. Sometimes they have wonderful suggestions!

10. Always plan too much. Since we don't have much experience organzing lessons according to class time, it's better to have too much planned then to have the students sitting there with nothing to do.


Advice for Prac Teaching

After reading a number of different discussion boards searching for advice and any kind of tips - I thought I would compile a list of them. This advice comes from other teachers who had just finished their prac year.

1. Class management is number 1. Set your standards for behavioural expectations and be consistent with it. If you want absolute quiet, then demand it, and explain exactly what it is that you want. I learned to say things like "Class, when I say 'Can I have your attention', i expect you all to put your pens down, stop what you are doing and look towards me'. If you reiterate this as needed, you are explaining exactly what behaviour you expect when certain 'code words' are used. If you demand this, then I found that I was creating consistent expectations, and thus got more consistent results.

2. Take pride and time in boardwork. This was an unexpected one for me, but it made me realize the power of modelling. If I executed tidy and neat boardwork, then that's what ended up in students books. If I was messy, so were they. Be very explicit in what you want them to take down, underline etc etc. It took me a while to realize just how literal you have to be.

3. I think that there's a kind of 'magic moment' when you stop 'teaching' the class, and start 'relating' to them. I noticed that students would ask more personal questions, would relate to me more 'humanely' after this transition. It seemed to take different times with different classes. I'd love to know a magic formula to make this happen.

4. here's a tip that I developed after about 6 months of going nuts with the question 'do we have to write this down?' : I established a convention with my classes that if you have to write it down in your notes (in the 'rulebook') then I write it with my purple pen. This is the ONLY time I use purple. And if it's not in purple it doesn't have to go in the notes. If I want to do an 'aside' while we're doing notes, I pick up a different colour pen, walk to the end of the board so there's a gap and demonstrate over there.

It's a really simple technique but it makes a huge difference. Now I just have to hold up the purple pen, without saying anything, and they all start rustling around getting their rulebooks out, and there are no questions at all about what has to be written or not.

5. write down on the side of the board at the beginning of the lesson what you wanted the students to achieve in the lesson, then use these statements to recap and wind up the lesson - & if you didn't get that far you can use them to lead into the next lesson... Basically just to make it clear what the lesson was about and what is expected from them

6. Make sure your students know that you care about them as a person. As you develop a relationship with your students they will not only work for themselves and a better grade, but they will be working for you and will not want to let you down. One suggestion is to greet everyone as they come into the classroom. It's easy to do and makes a big difference to the students. Typically, I try to stand at the door and say hello. It's also helpful if you take an active interest in their life outside the classroom. If you know that they are involved with sports, drama, or any other area of special interest, keep up to date on their progress by asking them about their recent accomplishments.

7. Maintain high standards. Students may not initially understand or appreciate a teacher who challenges them in the classroom with difficult material, but, in time, they will.

8. Be firm but flexible, consistent yet be willing to make an exception. Being firm does not include being mean; being flexible does not include allowing a student or a class to take advantage of you. Being consistent will enable you to get your students to do more for you. For example, if you check homework every day, students will be more likely to do it. However, if you have a student that typically does their work and performs well on assessments, then it would be reasonable to be more lenient if they do not do their work one day.

9. Smile :D Let your students know that you are happy to be with them and that you enjoy their presence.

Quick Lesson Plan Checklist

I realise that prevous list is really long - so here is the short version:

1. Objectives
What do I want them to learn?
2. Student Activities
What do I want them to do?
3. Teacher Activities
What will I do?
4. Resources
What resources do I need?
5. Timing
How long is this lesson?
6. Prior learning
What do they know?
7. Monitoring
Was there learning?
8. Linking
What next?

Lesson Plan Checklist

I'm sure that this blog will be filled with checklists! The main purpose of this blog is to help me to get organised and prepared for my up coming prac. Once I start prac in 2 weeks I will start to post about my own personal experiences.

Let me know if there is anything else you would add to this list?

Lesson Plan Checklist:

*Are the objectives specific and written in terms of what children can do?

Warm-up Activity / Motivation:
*Will the motivation intrigue, excite, and engage children?

* Keep the activity within the 10-15 minute period.
* Are my activities directly related to the objectives?
* Are all objectives addressed?
* Have I established clear measurable criteria for student performance?

Prior Knowledge:
* Do the children posses the background knowledge necessary to complete this activity successfully?
* Have I described how I will provide the children with that knowledge if they lack this knowledge,?
* Will I connect this activity a prior activity or help children to share background knowledge meaningfully?

* Have I fully explained how the lesson is to be taught in a sequential manner?
* Are my instructions detailed enough that someone could pick up my plans and implement the activity?

* Have I described a means of moving to the next activity that is a learning tool?

* Have I included a clear description of how I will review the main points of the lesson?

Materials/ Resources:
* Have I considered ALL of the materials I need to implement this plan?
* Will I need special visual aids or special equipment?

Modifications for Diverse Learners:
* Have I suggested suitable modifications for diverse learners with or without an identified special need?

Supplementary Activities:
* Have I described appropriate activities related to this one that the children could do if they finish early?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Good Advice

I really liked this piece of advice from hipteacher:

"Do not let your students be your "friend" on myspace or facebook. Bad idea (students DO want to know about your nasty social life, and their memories last far longer than the brainiest elephant). Do like your "friend" hipteacher and create a facebook for you as a teacher. Kids will think you are rad and will like having you wish them "Happy Birthday, Dude!" on their wall. They will even write on your wall to ask you homework questions and stuff. This might make you feel cool. Also, this is a nice way to keep up with all your former students who have moved on to be real adults and who are doing neat stuff you wanna know about."

I like this idea as it enables you to form a personal bond with your students -- that they can ask you questions -- yet at the same time there is still a level of professionalism and you are viewed more as teacher then their "mate."

I also had to add the other great piece of advice:

"The magic three: eat, pee, sleep." : )

Icebreaker Activity: Teacher True/False Quiz

I have been trying to find an icebreaker activity to implement once I start prac that is: age appropriate (HS), not too time consuming, fun for students, helps me get to know them better and gives the students a chance to get to know me.

What do you think of this one?

Teacher True/False Quiz:

About a week after school starts I pass out a true/false quiz about myself. I have 10 statements about myself, which deal with things I'd like the students to know about me, and some random true facts that they always think are false. Once the students have silently taken the quiz, we go through the statements together. I ask them to raise their hand if they think a statement is true, then if they think it is false. This part is fun for me to see what impressions they already have of me. I then tell them the correct answer. They love it! Their homework assignment that night is to write a true/false quiz about themselves, which I will then take. They can then grade how well I did on their quiz. I learn quite a bit about them by taking their quiz.


Prac Teaching Survival Tips

Prac Teaching Survival Tips

The teaching relationship is based on trust and respect. This atmosphere is not easy to create in the short time available to you especially when pupils know you are a 'student'. The fear most commonly expressed by student teachers is that they will not be able to control their class.

"Class control" is not an end in itself. It is the creation of a learning environment that is important. In different circumstances the learning environment may be a totally silent classroom or the busy, bustling group activity session. So if you are worried, you are not alone. In reality, classroom control is just another one of the skills that you will gain with training and experience.

These tips will help you to stay on top.

* Use your pre-visit to discover which children have behavioural/and or learning difficulties- talking with the class teacher about individual children.

* Ensure quiet, orderly entry to classroom, not only to set the tone for the lesson, but for reasons of safety;

* Have realistic expectations of your pupils, and be organised and methodical.

* Use a seating plan to keep conflicting children apart;

* Start with tight control. Relaxation can follow when you get to know your class(es). It is much more difficult to regain control after a 'laid-back' start;

* Use a clear speaking voice with sufficient volume to be heard at the back of the class, but do not speak more loudly than is necessary and control your pace of speaking;

* Always face the students whilst you speak. If you are writing on the blackboard, cease and turn to address the students when making explanations;

* Ensure that your explanations are clear, and seek feedback from students to ensure that you have been understood;

* Do not talk for an excessive period of time without some form of student activity;

* Avoid the development of unconscious mannerisms and oft-repeated phrases;

* The most effective form of discipline is self-discipline motivated by interest and a sense of purpose. However, this is not always possible to create in every pupil and it therefore becomes necessary to protect the education of the majority of students from that small minority whose disruption affects their own and their classmates' education;

* Be sure that you know the disciplinary code of the school and how you are to use the sanctions available;

* Try, as far as possible, to contain any problem situation within the sanctions available to you and avoid at all costs a confrontational situation which can undermine your credibility by forcing you to back down;

* Any matter which you cannot resolve, within the sanctions available to you, refer to the appropriate member of the teaching staff;

* At all times be fair and, most important of all, be consistent with sanctions;

* Do not concentrate on the negative side of conduct and performance. Where possible highlight good work and good conduct;

* If you need to criticise bad behaviour, make sure that it is the child's actions that you comment upon, not the child him/herself.

* Remember that we all respond better to praise, encouragement and fairness than to criticism and doubt.

* Performance must always be related to ability. Therefore, praise not only good work but also substantial effort;

* Do not criticise a student for making an honest mistake;

* Make sure you follow up any work you have set. the best motivation for students to produce correct, neat and punctual work is for that work to be promptly and neatly marked and for praise to be given whenever possible.

* Try to understand why an incident of poor behaviour has occurred; and how you can prevent it in the future.

* Avoid labelling or targeting any one child for repeated sanctions, unless absolutely unavoidable.

* Make sanctions reasonable and avoid setting extra work as punishment/detention, as this can convey the wrong messages.

* If you want to impose a detention, always consult with the class teacher and make sure you follow school policy.

* Try not to physically restraint any student - it could be construed by the student as an assault. If you have to restrain a student, you should do so only to prevent harm to others or to the student him/herself, to prevent damage to property. Make a note of the incident and how you dealt with it. Tell the teacher responsible for the class as soon as practicably possible of any incident.

* If all else fails and you start to feel desperate - ask for help, either from your teacher-tutor, the Teachers Federation school representative or a trusted colleague.

* Personal presentation: although personal appearance has little to do with intellectual or moral qualities, to school students (and some teachers) an eccentric mode of dress or an excessively casual appearance can imply acceptance of lower standards. A 'smart' appearance will therefore enhance your chances of obtaining good standards of both work and behaviour from your students. A good guideline is to study the dress habits of the staff of the school and to dress to just above what appears to be the accepted norm.



I thought I would start my blog with how I feel about my up coming practicum and this year in general:

What I am looking forward to...

** Working -- "working 9 to 5" -- having a real job with a sense of purpose and importance
** Teaching -- putting theory into practice
** Getting a job -- making money : )
** Graduation!!!

What I am most worried about...

** Behaviour Management
** Not getting along with my prac teacher
** Not knowing the answers
** Not getting a job : (