As I am yet to secure a placement, I have observed a video of Chris Betcher teaching Year 6 at PLC Sydney. The video was ten minutes, with time lapses of unknown lengths occurring at intervals.
The lesson focused on teaching students how to set up a blog. Betcher was realising the BOSTES National Professional Standard for Teachers 2.6.1, of ‘implement[ing] teaching strategies for using ICT to expand curriculum learning opportunities for students’. He did this by utilising a Smartboard at the front of the classroom to demonstrate each step of the task, giving clear instructions, while the students followed the steps on a laptop. In this way, Betcher effectively integrated ICT into his classroom, “teaching with technology not teaching about technology”. (ref Lecture Week 3, slide 22)
It is unclear whether Betcher takes this class on a regular basis, or if he is a guest teacher taking the class simply to assist the set up of these blogs. In any case, I was struck how efficiently Betcher reinforced an established practice of controlling the focus of his students, by instructing them to lower their screens halfway down. I observed that this action limited the students visual distraction of their own laptops and was successful in minimising the chatter that otherwise occurred.
One of the reasons I assumed that Betcher might not be the regular teacher of this class, was that he appeared not to know the students names, calling them ‘Sweetie’ instead. I feel this limited his ability to moderate questions and receive answers. As he was not able to call on students individually, he therefore relied heavily on a chorus response, which the ‘Beginning Teaching and Beyond’ reading defines as “not a call out, rather it is a means of involving all students in a union response to a knowledge type question.” (pg 147)
Betcher used the chorus response in a variety of ways, including to check the class had understood part of the instruction, or were up to date with the task, using phrases such as,
"We haven’t seen each other since then, have we?"
"Does that make sense?"
"So you type in here, blogs.lotus.dot.me. What is it?”
The reading ‘Beginning Teaching and Beyond’ advises a teacher should “decide on the procedure for responding… you will want to be sure of your expectations” (pg 146) and that “it is important that you make your expectations clear to the students. Otherwise, control problems will develop.” (pg 147) I felt at times the students understanding of Betchers expectations were unclear, evident through Betchers use of the chorus response, in which he welcomed calling out type behaviour, and the sudden switch to a direct question where he was suddenly unwelcome to the classes spontaneous input. The callout behaviour which had been tolerated all lesson then resulted in a firm stare in one direction of the classroom which I feel was inconsistent with the rest of his classroom expectations up until this point.
I observed that his reliance on the chorus response, as well as the nature of the task, generated a noisy, chatter-filled lesson, in which I wasn’t sure the students were on task or following at the same pace as Betcher. At one point he says to a student, “You’re ten steps ahead…”. As a result, I felt control problems did develop as the reading suggested they would, at one time an adult voice (the regular teacher perhaps?) insisted the students put their laptops at, “half screens, you know the way” when the chatter did not die down in an appropriate amount of time.
I am keen to get into a real classroom to see other teachers approaches to controlling their students behaviour!
Today I am finalising my resume to send to prospective prac schools, in hopes of securing a placement. I am so keen to get in to the classroom! So many of my assessments, including this one, depend on having that experience!
I have contacted my old high school and I know they are very supportive of ex-students, so fingers crossed!
I’m looking forward to posting and reflecting regularly once I am able to observe a real live classroom!