John Loughran observes that teachers are always under pressure due to the range of decisions they have to make on a daily basis (2010). These decisions are not often evident to parents and students. In the book, “What Expert Teachers Do: Enhancing Professional Knowledge for Classroom Practice,” Loughran argues that these decisions include student behaviour, the balance between student initiated tasks and teacher direct tasks, the content of courses, individualized philosophy in teaching, homework, coping with different learning styles, teaching procedures as well as the assessments (2010). With so many decisions to make, teachers are unsettled because they not only have to plan and prepare for teaching but also have to be ready for unanticipated incidences that could cause anxiety and unease within their practice.
In respect to technical proficiency perspective, teaching is an orderly process; however, from the experience point of view, aspects such as constant occurring choices, competing concerns, decisions, tensions and dilemmas, shape the manner in which teaching is done (Loughran 2010). The problematic nature in teaching should not be viewed through negative connotations but rather as decisions that empower teachers to emerge as experts. Notably, inexperienced teachers always seek advice on how to teach their students by acknowledging teaching as uncertain and problematic instead of rule driven. As a result, they adjust and build their teaching experience. On the other hand, expert teachers adjust themselves by monitoring their teaching behaviours in order to deliver to their best when teaching via engaging in simple actions they have learnt through experience that a ‘common’ observer will not notice (Loughran 2010). The teachers should also rely on questions while teaching. That is, when a teacher asks the class a question and then responds positively to the correct answers only, the students who are indifferent or unsure about their answers or those with intention of asking questions will eventually not speak up. Thus, an expert teacher must know how to make students speak up their thoughts thus open learning to every student (Loughran 2010). Therefore, the wait time (through observation and adjustment), the decisions, and the questioning style a teacher uses in a class determine his or her teaching expertise.
- Preparation or introduction to cell theory – in this step, the teacher should draw the attention and motivation, interest, curiosity of students via discussing and demonstrating cell theory concepts. Here, the teacher will seek to know the students prior knowledge on the topic and their experiences and ability to absorb the current content on cell theory. For instance, a teacher can ask students if they know what cells are and functions.
- Presentation – In this step, the teacher should present the new concepts and ideas about cell theory to the students, and explain them well so that students can learn much easier. Here, the teacher and students need to participate actively. The teacher should rely on teaching aids such as charts, models, films and activities while explaining and discussing concepts to let students understand the topic well.
- Comparison or association – in this step the teacher will give students the examples that they will have to observe and compare them with others. For instance, students can compare the properties of mitochondria, nucleus, nucleolus, lysosome and cell membrane together with their functions in cells. From what they have learned, teachers should let students relate these aspects with daily life events. For instance, how mitochondria helps people on a daily basis.
- Generalization – in this section, the student will generalize the whole concept of the lesson. The teacher needs to put alternative and new questions as well as examples so that students can answer, generalize and make their own conclusions. In other words, the teacher should make students embrace reflective thinking while finding solutions to their problems. For instance, a teacher may pose a question asking the part of the cell that empowers athletes to compete in marathon.
- Application – in this step, the teacher shows the students how the acquired knowledge and concepts are applied in daily life. For instance, how cells enable the understanding of organs and diseases. The teacher should also test the validity of generalization made by the student.
- Recapitulation – in this step, the teacher summarises the lesson, completes and tests the students’ understanding and comprehension by asking both indirect and direct questions. In this case, the teacher can have an oral test or written test and/ or, objective test or subjective test.
The following questions are based on cell theory
- What is a cell? – The answer to this question relates to the definitions and cells concepts. That is, it helps students to be able to define and explain what a cell entails.
- What are the functions of a cell? – The answer to this question relate to the general functions of a cell. That is, the students should be able to define a cell, its functions in the body, and its importance.
- What are cell divisions? – The answer to this question relates to the components that make up the cell. That is, students should be in a position to identify cell parts such as liposome, mitochondria, nucleus and so forth, as well as their features and locations in a cell.
- What are the functions of each cell division? – The answer to this question relates to the specific functions of cell parts. For instance, a student should be in position to identify the function of nucleus and mitochondria.
- In real life events, how does each cell division help living things? – The answer to this question relates the function of each cell part in normal life. For instance, students should understand how mitochondria influence human lives.
- What are the applications of cell theory in real life situation? – The answer to this question relates to both general and specific applications of cell theory. For instance, the students should know how this chapter forms the foundation of knowledge on organs, diseases and medicine.
The three lead-in activities include question lead-in activity, storytelling activity, and dialogue lead-in activity (Jingxia &Jing 2005). Question lead-in activity is whereby a teacher asks questions based on the subject matter and the objective of the lesson. Storytelling activity is whereby a teacher introduces an interesting story on the topic under discussion. Dialogue lead-in activity is whereby a teacher gives students an opportunity to have a chart or discussion regarding the lesson to be taught.
In a cell theory topic, these lead-in activities can be used as below. In question lead-in activity, the teacher should start by asking students simple questions (Jingxia &Jing 2005). For instance, what are cells? What is their function in the body and so forth? In this case, question lead-in will prompt the students to take the next mental steps thus drawing their attention to the lesson under study from the beginning. In storytelling lead-in activity, the teacher should introduce the lesson by telling students about an interesting story on cell theory. For instance, how medical professionals without the knowledge of cells and their parts could not make effective medicine. Storytelling lead-in activity provides natural and meaningful context to the students at the beginning of the lesson (Jingxia &Jing 2005). In dialogue lead-in activity, the teacher should encourage discussion between and among students on the topic under student. For instance, the teacher should let students narrate or explain anything they know about cells. This lead-in activity encourages students to be directed into the lesson in a natural way (Jingxia &Jing 2005).
Both standard-referenced assessment and norm-referenced assessment are used to determine the performance of students in a class or in a country. (James, McInnis & Devlin, 2002) Standard-referenced assessment uses broad descriptors of the expected achievement as the main reference points in regard to the professional judgements on achievement and progress. Usually, these descriptions get support from annotated examples to serve as a guide to the professional judgement. In standard-referenced assessment, the evidence used to make professional judgement is based on a variety of formal and informal sources. In broad descriptors of expectations, in most cases, variations exist regarding the level of achievement in knowledge, skills and understanding anticipated by any provided standard. The professional judgement made by teachers regarding the achievement and progress relative to the standard are thus general judgements on whether the student is able to achieve the standard, achieve above the standard, or achieve below the standard.
The norm-referenced assessment is designed to measure the position of a student in relation to the rest in the population with regard to knowledge, skills and understanding (James, McInnis & Devlin, 2002). This kind of assessment is based on the average student’s capabilities. Teachers rely on norm-referenced assessment in comparing a student with the entire class or with the rest of students in the entire country. This assessment measure is used to make judgements by expressing the student’s score in the rank order; for instance, in awarding the 10 percent of the top students in the class a high distinction or awarding 5 percent of the last students in the class a failure.
Behaviour management skills are important but are not a sufficient condition to create effective learning environment. In fact, these skills only form part of the preferable learning environment (Wilkinson, Meiers & Knight 2008). Notably, teachers have deeper representation on learning and teaching which are more responsive to the students. Usually, there is a difference between expert teachers, novice teachers, and experienced teachers. That is, experienced teachers in most cases mind about what they do and what they say to the class, novice teachers concentrate on the behaviour of students, whereas expert teachers scan classroom behaviour effectively by making reference to the mode of learning and instructions to the students (Wilkinson, Meiers & Knight 2008). In a different context, the type and quality of relationship between the teacher and the students forms the foundation of other class management aspects. In short, the teacher has to show some dominance, know the needs of the students, and exhibit the desirable levels of cooperation. The dominance constitutes the teacher’s capability to offer clear purpose as well as strong guidance on both the behaviour and academics of the student. In a situation where the teacher-student relation has deteriorated, the teacher needs to focus on restoring it by focusing on how students are affected, seeing mistakes as learning opportunities and focusing on the future by finding ways to do things right (Wilkinson, Meiers & Knight 2008). Finally, behaviour management affects teachers in that some prefer to leave their careers at early stages due to frustrations associated with teaching.
Establishing a positive classroom climate
Creating a classroom code of conduct – a productive and positive classroom needs standardized understanding of negative and positive behaviours. In this strategy, teachers should let students identify the manner in which they want to be treated. This move will elicit a list of behaviours that are fair, kind, respectful and empathetic. Treating teachers and students in a manner that they prefer constitutes the appropriate code of conduct of instilling positive classroom climate.
Reinforcing positive behaviour – teachers need to strengthen the intrinsic motivation by recognising and positively reinforcing any positive behaviour from the students. Recognising such through rewards such as stickers, certificates and tokens can serve as a reminder of a good feeling to the awardee.
Establishing rules and procedures – teachers needs to establish the timetables to guide students’ daily studies. The students need to be reminded continuously until they grasp the schedule of events.
Communicating to students learning goals and feedback – the teacher needs to provide clear learning rubrics and goals which are based on specific schedules. To ensure that these schedules are followed, the teacher needs to track the progress of students.
Establishing effective communication channels
Encouraging students to form supportive and knowledge sharing class culture – Students should be in a position to share their academic thoughts with their fellow students and teachers as well. Here, the students are correctively and consistently informed and thus they are in a position to make desirable decisions.
Material communication strategy – teachers should deliver communications to students in a timely, effective, efficient and accurate manner. This strategy aims at improving the performance of students in terms of their behaviour, class performance and motivation to learn. At the end, students are able to make more informed and better daily decisions that are aligned with the class objectives.
The classroom rules for grade three are as follow
- Always listen to the teacher and fellow students.
- Always follow teacher’s directions.
- When the subject discussed is not clear, ask for clarification.
- Always, raise your hand if you want to ask a question, to speak, to contribute to the discussion or even to leave.
- Maintain silence in the class.
- Show respect to your teacher and fellow students.
- Do not multitask during the lessons.
- Help in activities like cleaning lunches, toys and so forth.
At the beginning of the year, I will focus on students to put more effort on following rules 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6. These five rules form the basis of students’ behaviour and academic performance in the class. On the course of the year, I will then focus on the other rules; that is, rules 3, 7 and 8.
3.5.1 Preventing uncontrolled talking and visiting in class
The teacher needs to identify the main cause of the problem leading to uncontrolled talking and visiting. Figure out if the problem is associated with the entire class or few individuals. After identifying those behind the problem, the teacher should reiterate the expectations of each student and the consequences in case they persist on uncontrolled talking and visiting. Raise the concerns of uncontrolled talking and visiting such as disruption to fellow students and failure to learn. Then, give these students a chance to improve before taking other measures like punishment.
3.5.2 Enabling students to follow directions more readily
Embracing effective modifications and accommodations – While making instructions, the teacher needs to put into considerations the needs of students in terms of academic programs (Beech 2011). For instance, if students are likely to be attentive in the morning, the teacher should accommodate the lessons that require attention in the morning. Further, the teacher can offer specialist support to students with disabilities as a way of ensuring that they are relatively in the same level as their fellow classmates.
3.5.3 Helping students to complete homework
Give praise and motivation to students who complete their assignment correctly and on time. Students always like praises like ‘you have done a good job.’ Such praise serves as a motivation for students to complete their homework. Stamps and stickers placed on successfully completed homework appeal to many students. Thus, with desire to have these stickers, students will always be motivated to complete their assignments.
Even when they are learning in the same class, listening to the same tutor and reading the same book, girls and boy receive distinct educations; boys present several problems in the classroom (Springer 2009). For instance, boys are always considered as superior to girls and thus may be distracted by their perceived superiority and hence end up performing poorly. Again, basing their judgements on superiority complex in boys, teachers tend to assist girls with their problems and leave boys to attend to their problems (Springer 2009). Consequently, girls tend to perform better in their academics than boys. To eliminate these problems, first, the teachers need to embrace equality in classes; that is, they should utilize the resources at their disposal equitably among the boys and girls. For instance, the assistance accorded to girls like in the case of solving academic problems should also be accorded to the boys in a similar manner. Secondly, the school can introduce mentoring programs in classes on gender equality. These mentoring programs should emphasise the benefits the boys are likely to gain in terms of academic performance.
Australian schooling promotes equity and excellence
Equity implies that every human being is entitled to the right of benefiting from the societal (including educational) outcomes on foundations of fairness and needs. Excellence implies the achievement of equity based on established measures, perspectives and terms (Butler 2008). Therefore, the goal of Australian schooling to promote equity and excellence implies that, in Australian schooling, all students irrespective of their gender, religion, race, colour, and sexual orientation are entitled to relevant, rigorous and engaging learning programs drawn from a challenging curriculum that addresses their diverse needs (Butler 2008). The Australian curriculum promotes students’ strengths, interests, learning needs, and goals, and at the same time addresses the physical, social, cognitive, aesthetic and affective needs of all students. Conversely, this goal does not address the quality of education offered to all students.
All young Australians become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens
This goal implies inculcating the necessary skills to the learners so that they can be in a position to confront any situation. The identified skills include numeracy, literacy, creativity, thinking, information and communication technology, communication and teamwork (Butler 2008). It shows the kind of individuals, who have ability to manage their wellbeing in relation to other individuals and people who can make desirable and informed decisions for their lives. Again, this goal aims to create citizens who act and behave responsibly, who can communicate within and across cultures, who can embrace ethics and integrity, and who can fit within local, regional and global levels (Butler 2008).
If knowledge does not exist along a gradient line, Christian educators may seek to be educationally responsible by establishing the foundation of the education or curriculum. That is, the Christian educators need to participate in establishing the content taught to the students. In other words, the curriculum should establish a balance between the teacher, the students and what should be taught. In a religious context, the curriculum should establish a balance between God, the teacher, the students and what should be taught. For instance, the religious based curriculum should strive to impart morals that are congruent with religious beliefs (McLennan 1989). To inculcate such morals to the learners, Christian educators should prioritize their teaching on young and upcoming generations. In short, Christian educators should encourage students to reflect not only on the logic of their learning, but also on their relationship with others, the universe, and their spiritual beliefs.
Faith is the belief people hold over something or certain being. On the other hand, learning is the exploration of new things, ideas, concepts and so forth. Faith and learning inhabit similar foundations in that faith always has a component of learning, and that learning makes assumptions based on faith. As such, learning and faith are not different concepts from the same thing, but are consistent concepts. One cannot have a meaningful learning without making some faithful assumptions; on the other hand, one cannot have testable faith with the absence of learning. Usually, life and academic problems emerge when people try to separate learning and faith. Cosgrove (2006) argues that “thinking Christianity” means understanding this relationship between the faith and the learning” (p. 41). Therefore, it is prudent to remember that knowledge of arts and academic sciences is essential element of a Christian’s mind as well as faith in the current world. Therefore, to the minds of Christians, the world is sacred and a part of what God wishes people to enjoy and explore.
The religious question approach
Strengths: Helps students understand the relevance of their religion in contemporary life. Again, it empowers students to understand other religions apart from the one they practice. That is, each educated person needs to have knowledge on what constitutes meaningful life.
Weaknesses: the religious question approach leaves learning to secular approaches whereby students are taught to explain the world in reference to molecular terms, and material terms with the absence of non-material or God.
The cultural heritage approach
Strengths: in this model, the Bible forms the foundation of world civilization; that is, it is hard to understand numerous cultural allusions and literacy without knowledge of the Bible.
Weaknesses: this model excludes other religions as part of models in schools.
The existential questions approach
Strengths: this model forms strong religious foundations to students by teaching religious and moral issues during the regular classes.
Weaknesses: this model may encourage students to lose the course of their learning objectives such as creativity, literacy and teamwork.
The spiritual pedagogy approach
Strengths: this model embraces creativity and reflective learning; for instance, it compels teachers to teach with questions such as what if.
Weaknesses: because of its analytical approach, this model is not suitable for young students due to their undeveloped thinking.
The value and attitude approach
Strengths: this approach calls for teachers to have committed impartiality in the classroom. Teachers are encouraged to declare their faith-based values; however, they are not supposed to impose them on students.
Weaknesses: while declaring their religious stands, teachers are likely to influence students in several aspects like changing their denomination.
The presuppositional worldwide approach
Strengths: this model enhances knowledge by reviewing the knowledge from its beliefs and assumptions and encouraging the development of a Christian-based framework of learning to students.
Weaknesses: this model is only based on one religious worldview, the Bible, despite the presence of other religious books.
Beech, M 2011, Accommodations and modifications for students with disabilities in career education and adult general education, Florida Department of Education, Florida State University.
Butler, H 2008, Equity and excellence: feasible and fantasy in school programming, Catholic Education Office, Australian Catholic University.
Cosgrove, MP 2006, Foundations of Christian thought: faith, learning, and the Christian worldview, Kregel Academic, Grand Rapids.
James, R, McInnis, C & Devlin, M 2002, ‘Comparison of norm-referencing and criterion-referencing methods for determining student grades in higher education’, Assessing Learning in Australian Universities, pp. 1-2.
Jingxia, L & Jing, H 2005, how to have a good lead-in in English classrooms, China Three Gorges University, Hubei, China.
Loughran, J 2010, What expert teachers do: enhancing professional knowledge for classroom practice, Allen & Unwin, Alexander St, Crows Nest NSW 2065, Australia.
McLennan, G(ed)1989, Australia’s first hundred years, in Understanding our Christian heritage, Vol 2, Christian Research Institute, Sydney, pp.25-33.
Springer 2009, ‘what about the boys? boys face serious issues which are being ignored, experts argue’, ScienceDaily, viewed 15 March 2014, <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090608125114.htm>.
Wilkinson, J, Meiers, M & Knight, P 2008, ‘Managing classroom behaviour’, NSW Institute of Teachers: Research Digest, pp. 1-14.
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