#8 Professional Practice: 8.1 Participating in a Professional Community. Relationships with colleagues are characterized by mutual support and cooperation. This means that being a successful teacher is about more than just teaching kids. You have to be able to communicate and work well with the other teachers on your staff, especially the teachers in your department. Teachers need to work as a team, cooperating and supporting each other with items like curriculum, planning, students and parent communication.
In a physical education setting, this is especially true. In secondary schools, physical education teachers share the gyms, fields, courts, offices and locker rooms. If the teachers don’t cooperate and communicate with each other than this will cause all sorts of issues with class logistics and management and the student’s learning will suffer. There needs to be a set plan in place for the location of each teacher’s class and a plan for what equipment is being used by each different teacher, so there is no wasted instruction time.
In my student teaching, it was imperative that I developed good relationships and communication with the other two physical education teachers. One of the teachers only worked for two periods at the end of the day and the other teacher was very disorganized and did very little lesson planning. I also shared a small office with these two teachers. I was able to overcome any potential issues by being courteous, supportive and friendly. I went out of my way each day to talk with both teachers and I was able to develop a good relationship with both of them, which helped pave the way to a successful work environment. I was also able to learn several new effective teacher practices from these two teachers. If a team is effective, then people learn from each other. They accomplish far more than would be possible alone. They inspire and challenge each other (Aguilar, 2012).
In my first teaching job, one of the first things I will do is to try and build good relationships with the teachers that I work with and not isolate myself. I will learn about their communication styles, find ways to effectively communicate and plan with them, and go out of my way to be friendly, courteous and respectful.
Aguilar, E. (2012). Effective Teams: The Key to Transforming Schools? Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/teacher-teams-transform-schools-elena-aguilar.
#4 Content Knowledge: 4.2 Setting Instructional Outcomes. All the instructional outcomes are clear, written in the form of student learning. Most suggest viable methods of assessment. This means that at the beginning of each class the students will all know what the key learning goals are for each lesson. This also means that there will be a viable way for the teacher to assess which students have completed the learning goals for each lesson. It’s also important that the students be able to self-assess if they have completed the learning goals for each lesson. This will help the students more clearly understand what they are learning and it will give them ownership of their own learning.
In my physical education class, I found that the best way to accomplish this was to write a daily learning target on the class white board that was concise, written in student friendly language and was measurable. For example, the following is a learning target from one of my student teaching lessons in the Ultimate Frisbee unit:
- I can demonstrate to my partner the correct grip and form for a backhand throw.
- I will throw a Frisbee 10+ times with a partner.
The students did not have any problems understanding this learning target and it was very measurable. At the end of the class, I asked all the student to self-assess if they completed the learning target with a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down.” At the close of the lesson, asking students to reflect on or share their learning is critical. This lets you know if the students are really ready to move on from this target, or if some need reteaching or other learning opportunities (Templeton, 2014).
One step that I will take to improve my student’s understanding of the daily learning target is to have them discuss the learning target with their neighbor or in small groups after I introduce the learning target at the beginning of each class. This will help improve their understanding of the daily learning target, which will give them a greater chance of successfully completing the learning target.
Templeton, K. (2014, May). The Dos and Don’ts of Learning Targets. Retrieved from http://www.iwalkthrough.org/learning-targets/.
#2 Instruction: 2.1 Using questioning and discussion techniques. Most of the teacher’s questions are of high quality and adequate time is provided for students to respond. This means that the teacher asks questions that are directly related to the learning segment. These questions should be planned and designed to actually help the students understand the topic and reinforce what the students will be learning in a particular lesson. The teacher also needs to allow enough time for the students to answer the questions in a meaningful manner and, more importantly, to make sure all the students understand the answer and can apply it to the learning segment. The teacher may have to call on multiple students to answer the questions and may also have to scaffold the student’s answers.
During my student teaching, I taught a unit on Ultimate Frisbee which included a lesson for a Frisbee game called Frisbee Four Score. After I introduced the game and reviewed the rules, I asked four different students four specific, focused questions about the game. These questions were designed to elicit student understanding of the game and also allowed me to determine if there was any confusion with the key rules to the game.
In previous lessons, I had asked the students more general, basic questions about the learning segment. These general questions were helpful, but I found the more specific, focused questions to be much more effective in helping the students with their learning and understanding of the lesson topic or skill. When used effectively, questioning techniques can be one of the most flexible and adaptive tools in a teacher’s arsenal (Marzano, 2007).
In my future lesson planning, I will continue to use questioning techniques in my learning segments. One change I will make, however, is to include more specific, focused questions about the learning topic or skill in my lessons.
Marzano, Robert J. (2007). The Art and Science of Teaching, Alexandria, Virginia: ACSD.