Reflection 7

The use of constructivist theories has been very prominent in schools and is often attributed to Piaget and Vygotsky. Both theories are focused around learners constructing their own knowledge based on the knowledge they already have. On my schooling, I was generally an independent earner which therefore made Piaget’s approach highly appropriate for me. I also enjoy the interaction with peers that the school environment allows for as described by Vygotsky who states that social interaction is key for reaching learning goals. I think that the zone of proximal development which I introduced by Vygotsky is also crucial to education as it encourages students to challenge themselves with the support of the teacher or mentor. 

In my placement, both constructivist theories are useful in some aspects of learning. Through using concrete materials, students are able to discover for themselves what a pattern is during their maths class. After a brief explanation from the teacher, students explore the topic creating their own patterns and linking their new knowledge to previous knowledge which allows them to better retain information. Social constructivism is less effective in this class room as the varied cognitive and learning disabilities mean that while the student effectively communicate with the teacher, they sometimes struggle to work together as a group to reach new knowledge. Therefore, it is clear that a constructivist approach works well in individual learning however any group learning needs to be highly structured to ensure that students are gaming the most knowledge they can and achieve ther goals. 

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Reflection 6

This week on prac I was involved with one on one work with a student with a cognitive disability in a hospitality class. While the majority of the class was working on an activity with the class teacher, I was asked to sit with the student and work through seperate worksheets. At first, this seemed like it would be beneficial for this student as she has trouble understanding content and, with personalised worksheets, would better be able to reach goals. When I was given th worksheets however, I was shocked to discover that she was to work through find a words related to the subject. I failed to understand how this helped her at all as all she was doing was looking for letters to make up a word she does not understand in relation to content she has not even learned. In my opinion, it seemed as though the class teacher had given up on the student and assumed that she would never understand content and therefore was given recreation mal activities rather than educational material. 

I felt that the work was almost insulting to the intelligence of the student; just because she was at a lower level than the other students it did not in any way mean she was incapable of understanding information. She just needed a simpler explanation of the same content rather than pointless activities. While working with the student, I could tell that she did not find much benefit from the activity either as she could not concentrate on it as it was not stimulating. Even I struggled to concentrate on the find a word as I felt like my time and knowledge was being wasted when I could be teaching the student something useful rather than helping her look for words. Due to this experience, the importance of catering for students with different needs has become very clear to me. I will ensure I set doable yet challenging tasks for students so that they reach learning goals and learn new skills. 

Reflection 5

ICT use in the classroom has become increasingly prominent in recent years. The change in use of ICT over my schooling was possibly the biggest transformation in regards to technology and education. When I was in kindergarten, the school had about 20 desk top comuputors which students got to use abut once a week in their library lesson. By the time I reached year 12, every student had their own device and used it for most of their class work. This is such a large transformation in a relatively short amount of time. For the most part, this has had a largely positive effect on my education as I had an increasing access to information and was able to effectively take part in problem based and individual learning. Sometime however, it was easy for me to be distracted as it is easy to disguise the fact that you are doing nothing behind the computer screen and students are very quick to learn this. 

In my placement technology can be helpful but can also be a large problem for some students. The positive aspect of ICT is that it can be used so that students can conduct their own research and find resources that are easy to understand at their own and at their own pace. It can be a problem however when, instead of reading and understanding information, students copy the websites information without understanding it. ICT use in the classroom is also an issue for a student who recently moved to Australia from Iraq. He has no computer skills and finds even a simple google search challenging. The fact that he struggles with the primary tool used in the classroom means that he spends more time trying to learn this than the actual lesson content. Clearly, use of technology logo needs to be examined and not used when appropriate for the intent of the activity and if it is appropriate for the student. 

Reflection 4

The use of modelling as described by Bandura can be examined in my placement and is used to varying degrees of success. Modelling is the use of a person as an example in order to encourage others to do the same as the model. In my own education, modelling could be seen in the way that a teacher would praise a particular student for a certain behaviour. For example, “look how quietly Tom is sitting, I wonder if we can all be as still as him.” This was effective in many cases as students want praise from the teacher. In the cases that this did not work, it may have been due to the fact that the other students then see Tom as a ‘teachers pet’ and would therefore avoid copying him. This was particularly true in older grades. 
In my placement, modelling is particularly useful as many of the students have difficulties interpreting social cues. We are strongly encouraged to make a point of making eye contact and speaking clearly so that the students begin to do the same. When we enter the room, it is also important to act as a mode, on how to greet a person. Another way modelling is used in the classroom is through the use of the kitchen provided. The teachers always clean up after themselves and wash up which encourages the students to do the same also. This is highly effective with the majority of the students as they have respect for the teachers. For some students however, this is ineffective as modelling is only effective if the students can relate to the model. 

Reflection 3

The family of a student has a large impact on the way in which they learn and their approach to schooling. In my household, from the beginning of my schooling my parents were very encouraging; they sat and helped me with my homework and encouraged me to read to them and on my own. They put an emphasis on school but also encouraged me to make friends and to take part in activities after school such as dancing, cricket and little athletics as long as they did not interfere with my school work. While this was my individual experience growing up, it is important to remember that each student comes from a very different background. 
I was informed by a teacher on my community engagement this week that one of the students would be away for two weeks as their parents owned a company that provided amusement rides to various fairs and he would be travelling with them to help out. This was shocking to me as for my parents school was the first priority and we never holidayed during the school term while for this student, regular breaks from school to go and work occurred. Another way family influence could be seen on my placement can be seen through another student who sees women as inferior due to his family background. In his household, his father is authority and sometimes is violent towards his mother and sister. This has been reported by the school and is going through processes of investigation. As a result of this, the student is rude to his female classmates as well as disrespectful to female teachers. As the majority of learning support teachers are female, this not only has a negative impact on them, but also the learning of the student. 

Reflection 2

Investigation into motivation will be incredibly helpful for me as a teacher as many students lack motivation to learn and it is part of my job to encourage them. Reflecting upon what motivates me was a good place to start when thinking about this as I may be able to apply my own knowledge and experiences to the classroom in some circumstances. In my learning, I am motivated by intrinsic motivation in the way of reaching a target in regards to my final result. This, along with interesting content, drive me to stay focused. I find it easy to focus on topic that I enjoy such as ancient history but struggle to stay motivated with others if they are not particularly interesting to me. Through this, it is clear that students need a range of motivational strategies to be able to remain engaged and complete tasks. 
While intrinsic motivation works well for me, it may not work for all students. Interesting content is, however, relevant in all situations as if a student does not like the content they are likely to be much less motivated. In the learning support room on my prac, intrinsic motivation works well for some students while others need extrinsic motivation such as rewards or praise. This is clear in the life skills maths class in which one student works ahead at home for the purpose of self improvement while another is keen to do all their work in front of the teacher and show them in order to gain praise and a high five. This demonstrates at each student is motivated differently and that teachers should support them in the way most appropriate for the individual. 

Reflection 1

On my first day of community engagement I was introduced to the main students that I will be working with in the following weeks in the learning support team at the senior high school I would be working in. There are five students who have severe learning or cognitive disorders which mean they have high levels of need for support. I quickly realised that even though all these students have learning difficulties, they cannot be grouped together as the same as they have very diverse needs as their cognitive abilities and attributes are all unique. 
While the students are senior students aged between 16 and 19, they were operating at a stage 2 level rather than the same level as their peers. This was incredibly eye-opening for me as when I was in highschool I was placed in advanced classes and it amazed me to see the vast differences between stages in learning. The learning support room was incredibly busy but also had a sense of order; something that I will definitely have to work on as a teacher. Because they are so busy, it is sometimes difficult to provide the necessary one on one support for students so the support team were grateful to have a few extra hands on board. Just in the first week, I already feel as though I have made a difference in the education of the students even in small ways. I am looking forward to returning next week!