I believe that teachers need to have a strong knowledge of the core concepts that students need to develop. By achieving this, I will be able to plan learning experiences that are both integrated across different KLA’s (Curriculum Integration: Guiding Statement, Board of Studies, 1996) and differentiated to meet the different needs of students within my class (Conway, 2008). Teachers also need to develop knowledge of the many effective modes of inquiry which can be used for each of the KLA’s as well as across KLA’s. For example, teachers may utilise still images and role walks in the study of Drama (Ewing & Simons, 2004), but they might use KWL charts as a graphic organiser in HSIE, Science or English. Knowledge in these fields should be continually updated and developed throughout a teacher’s career, through engagement with both formal professional development (Professional Learning Policy for Schools, NSW DET, 2004, p. 4) and independent research.
I believe that learning experiences need to be tailored towards the students for which they are designed. Each student is different; they have different preferences in learning style, different cultural and social backgrounds (Groundwater-Smith, Ewing & Le Cornu, 2003, p. 55). Teachers need to develop their professional knowledge about strategies which have been demonstrated to support different ‘groups’ of students, for example, using IGA activities to support students from non-English speaking backgrounds (Dufficy, 2005) or IEPs for students with identified special education needs (Foreman, 2008). However, teachers also need to be aware that these strategies do not suit all students, and they should be responsive to the needs of each individual learner.
I believe effective planning is one of the most important aspects of being a teacher. Identification of clear learning goals assists the teacher to frame learning experiences in terms of what they want the students to learn, as well as how they expect the students to demonstrate the achievement of this learning goal, achievable through alignment with the Quality Teaching Four Key Questions model (NSW DET Professional Learning and Leadership Development Directorate, 2008). I believe that providing feedback to students can be one of the most powerful ways to positively affect student outcomes, and assessment of students should therefore be continual and formative. Summative assessment should also be formative in that it provides an opportunity for teachers to evaluate their teaching practice and plan for future programs (Curriculum planning and programming, assessing and reporting to parents K-12 policy, NSW DET, 2006).
I believe that effective communication is crucial to the success of any relationship, including the relationship between students and their teacher, and between students (Groundwater-Smith et al., 2003, p. 237). Through effective communication, shared understandings can be achieved. Therefore it is crucial to model and teach a range of effective communication techniques, to enhance student collaboration and rich classroom discussion.
I believe that effective classroom management begins with thoughtful planning. This includes planning engaging lessons which are rich in intellectual quality as well as supportive of all students, in line with the Quality Teaching Framework (NSW DET, 2003). When learning goals and purpose are not clear to students, their motivation to engage in learning is not stimulated. Planning should also extend towards planning for explicit discussion of the behaviours you expect students to display (Conway, 2008), as it is unreasonable to assume that students will innately understand the behaviours you desire.
I believe that any classroom management plan should be framed through values, with mutual respect at the core (Bill Rogers, cited in Edwards & Watts, 2004, p. 219). This respect should be developed through understanding. I also believe that consequences for misbehaviour, when the student has understood expectations, should be logical rather than punitive (Dreikurs, cited in Edwards & Watts, 2004, p. 108).
I believe that teachers should never stop learning. Teachers should seek continual professional development throughout their careers (NSW DET Professional Learning and Leadership Development Directorate, 2008) through integration of feedback into teaching practice and through engagement in discussions about teaching and learning. I also believe that teachers should regularly engage in research, whether informal action-research (Groundwater-Smith & Ewing, (in print)) or formal literature reviews, to seek new and different ways to approach their teaching practice.
I believe that effective education draws strong links between the school, the home and the community, as demonstrated through the Health Promoting Schools model (AHPSA, 2000). Teachers need to work collaboratively with other teachers, as well as with parents and community members to enhance the quality and significance of students’ education (Quality Teaching Framework; NSW DET, 2003). Teachers should seek contributions from a wide range of participants to enrich the learning experiences that students are involved in.
Australian Health Promoting Schools Association (AHPSA). (2000). A national framework for health promoting schools (2000 – 2003). Retrieved 18 May, 2009, from http://www.ahpsa.org.au/files/framework.pdf
Board of Studies NSW. (1996). Curriculum integration: Guiding statement. Retrieved May 18, 2009 from http://k6.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/linkages/Guiding/guiding_intro.html
Dufficy, P. (2005). Designing learning for diverse classrooms. Sydney: PETA.
Ewing, R., & Simons, J. (2004). Beyond the script: Take two: Drama in the classroom. Sydney: Primary English Teaching Association.
Conway, R. (2008). Encouraging positive interactions. In P. Foreman (Ed.), Inclusion in action (pp. 198-244). South Melbourne: Thomson.
Foreman, P. (2008). Inclusion in action. South Melbourne: Nelson Australia Pty Ltd.
Groundwater-Smith, S., Ewing, R., & Le Cornu, R. (2003). Teaching challenges and dilemmas. Southbank: Nelson Australia Pty Ltd.
Groundwater-Smith, S., & Ewing, R. (inprint). Seeing practice through practice: Learning through action research and action learning. In J. Higgs, R. Ewing, and T. Lowry (Eds), Communicating in professional experiences. Oxford University Press.NSW DET. (2003). Quality teaching in NSW public schools: Discussion paper. Sydney: Author.
NSW DET. (2004). Professional learning policy for schools. Sydney: Author.
NSW DET. (2006). Curriculum planning and programming, assessing and reporting to parents K-12. Sydney: Author.
NSW DET Professional Learning and Leadership Development Directorate. (2008). Quality teaching to support the NSW professional teaching standards. Sydney: Author.