Wednesday 31st January 2007 I approached the first session with a degree of trepidation; a considerable time has elapsed since achieving Stage 1, during the autumn term of 2003. So when the first part which drew out peoples experiences from the most recent stage 1 I felt initially would not include mine.
However, upon listening to the negative and positive experiences and feeling of others, I did recall some commonality with my experiences several years ago.It was good opportunity for people to air what seemed to me valid complaints, which must also, to be fair, be set against the constraints applied to the provider from above. Throughout this session, though obviously many people knew each other from the previous term, I did sense that the group would rapidly develop a positive class dynamic. The prospect of Icebreakers is one, which always initially fills me with dread, but invariably fills me with delight during and after the activity which is what icebreakers are about I guess.I have always liked the imposition of a timeframe, set to timetable submissions, we do it as lecturers /teachers for assignment based courses, so it is right that when we are on the receiving end, we should accept a similar regime.
This brings me onto one of my major worries, how on earth do I fit it all in? Already I feel that my teaching quality is suffering under the load of all the additional administration work that we are told is now part of the job, so with my own coursework added onto that, what is the effect going to be?The solution must have something to do with time management, but right now I don’t seem to have much time to manage anyway! We began an introduction to Unit 117, to write an essay on an issue which impacts on FE and to analyse how this affects our role. I was forewarned this might occur, so I have done some sketchy preparatory research already, but having now read the criteria for myself, I may have to rethink as to whether my original idea is suitable. Friday2nd February 2007 (0730- 3rd Feb)National Diploma Year 1, unit 34, Electronics, venue C014 WGC Campus, 1045-1215 This group displays a wide spectrum of abilities and behavioural issues, some have very poor attendance and punctuality issues, some are plainly not interested in any subject and have yet to complete any assigned work (But it beats working for a living). From conversations with other staff, for many this cuts across all subjects. C014 is a multipurpose room equipped with networked computers and workbenches for practical work on electronics, pneumatics, plcs (Programmable Logic Controllers) and hydraulics.Despite all this, it is not a good room for pure teaching, the layout is fixed and the seating is arranged such that it encourages the learners to look away from the tutor and some are hidden behind computer monitors.
The plan for this session was to briefly recap/assess learning from the previous session, introduce a new theoretical topic, carry out a paper-based activity and then to prove it by using simulation software. The lesson did not proceed entirely as planned, mainly because at the start, only eight out of eighteen learners was present, after five minutes there were twelve and I decided to start.Despite the constant interruptions caused by the arrivals of the latecomers, the recap session went quite well with most learners displaying adequate recall of the previous session in response to direct questioning, though this took rather longer than I had planned. I developed the recap into the new, main topic for the day, which included the appreciation of what is sometimes a troublesome concept. I was working with both open and direct questioning and boardwork, by the time I had been lecturing for twenty-five minutes and I noticed that some learners were losing focus, being seduced by the easy option of the computer.However, because I was very nearly at the end of delivering the topic, I persisted but I feel ineffectually because most of the time was spent in dissuading learners from the delights of the internet, consequently the presentation became disjointed. The paper-based activity (at last something for them to do! ) was started and I quickly noticed that many learners were having severe difficulties, they should not have perhaps, but maybe my assessment of their understanding was over optimistic.I circulated amongst the class offering support and guidance and a few were making good progress so continuing the support, I let that part of the activity run until the time planned for its completion.
The next part concerned simulating the problem using “Multisim” Software. The learners who I was successful in prising away from the internet seemed to like this approach and quickly completed this part of the activity. Overall, this was not a good session for me.In retrospect, I feel that planning was at fault initially for creating the non-attention problem by including an over long tutor spot and once this had taken effect; it was very difficult to rescue the lesson. I should have got the learners involved in doing something for themselves at a much earlier stage in the lesson and deliver “teaching” in much smaller bites, thereby giving the learner more time to learn. The next session is planned to be focussed more on the practical aspects anyway, so I shall be able to put my theories about today to the test. Wednesday 7th FebruaryToday we were told to continue with working towards unit 117 and then to proceed with research towards the same end. The first part of the session was observed by the HE inspectorate who were looking at the University of Greenwich teacher training provision.
Since ours is a feeder course for the Cert Ed, then we were deemed to be inspectable. After as short briefing the class split into several small groups for a group work activity concerning “The New Professional Standards for Teachers in the Learning and Skills Sector” in which groups had to match Professional Standards into seven Domain categories.As a group, we found this rather more difficult than at first thought, some Standards seemed to sit comfortably in more than one domain, for example; The professional values concerning Equality, diversity and inclusion pop up in domain A (Professional values and practice), Domain B (Learning and teaching), Domain D (Planning for learning) and to a certain extent, Domain F(Access and progression)The difficulty arose when trying to associate the particular aspect of E and Q applied to which domain, there was much debate within the group!.
The second part of the activity involved identifying particular professional standards that had particular relevance to our own teaching areas. Advice received by me from those who have experienced such situations is to get in and have your say as early as possible, since then there is more chance of an original positive input and less chance of having to lamely reiterate someone else good point. I had identified the Communication standard as being the most important as far as I was concerned and was inwardly delighted when my turn came, close to the start of proceedings. But I fluffed it!Instead of speaking at some length about the need for differentiation in order to communicate best with all my learners, in retrospect, a fertile source of positive input; I merely blurted out that without communication, there could be no teaching, true enough, but not exactly an analysis of the impact of the standard. I really must try to analytically engage brain before opening the mouth! Overall the activity I felt was beneficial, at the very least it got me thinking in more than one dimension about the standards which should prove very useful when I finally construct my essay.That is well advanced in the planning stage, I think that I will pursue my original course, though I think that I may focus on one part of Equality and Diversity, that is the impact of racial diversity. Firstly, to cover the whole of Equality and Diversity is an enormous task and one which 2,000 words, let alone a mere 200 words could hardly do justice to. Secondly, ethnic and racial diversity are much to the fore in today’s current affairs, in all walks of life and since education is the starting point for many, then the impact that racial policies have in the classroom or workshop are of paramount importance.
A short session with the inspector followed, more or less a “What do you think of it so far? ” session. The main worry that seemed to pervade most class members was the condensing of a 36week course into 22 weeks. It does seem to be condensing on a massive scale! The remainder of the time was spent in further research, which was rather hampered by the length of time the computers took to load. Perhaps next time, we can login-in well before we are due to be using the computers. Friday 9th February 07To be perfectly honest, I didn’t expect many learners to attend today, having had a snow day off yesterday and this being the last day before half term. So I was surprised and pleased that as many as 13/18 attended which meant that I could go ahead with the planned session.
The plan was to do a brief recap of last week’s topic to ensure there had been some learning and then, after a brief introduction, to launch the learners into the practical activity which would form part of their next assignment.I had only planned a brief introduction to the practical, since the vast majority of the learners were progressing from a more practical course the year before and so would (should! ) have the requisite skills and those who hadn’t, (3/18), I could devote some small group tutoring to, to bring them up to speed. It didn’t turn out like that. The level of expertise disappointed me, so I at once decided to carry out a more detailed introduction. The first part of the task involved transcribing a schematic diagram into a buildable design, a fairly straightforward task normally.
I used the data projector to put up a picture of a blank board onto the whiteboard and demonstrated placing the first few components and then invited learners one by one to place the remainder of the components and connections. Amongst about two thirds of the group, this went down well, and seemed introduced an element of fun and competition into the proceedings. As intimated, not all learners took part; the group is home to a clique of three or four individuals who attend only for their own social gratification and usually take no interest or part in any coursework. From conversations with my colleagues, this applies across the whole spectrum of the course curriculum). Their determination to do whatever they want to do knows no bounds and the exhortations of the teacher for them to do work are treated as a mere interruption to their perceived real purpose of being there.
This provides of course a constant level of disruption, which in turn affects the concentration of learners who would take notice and would try to learn; with the consequence that overall progress of the group is very slow.The fact that the strategy did work with some learners was heartening, though the down-side was that the whole process took much longer than expected and no actual practical work was possible during the session, this will be started at the beginning of the next session when all will launch into practical mode as soon as the session formalities are complete. The only concerning aspect is that my scheme of work has only allowed for two complete sessions for leeway making up. Wednesday 21st February 2007 The main part of today’s session was concerned with looking at Unit 113, Communication Seminar paper.Everyone contributed their own view of an important factor in tutor/learner communication. Once again, I was near the front of the queue and so had a plethora of “factors” to choose from.
One thing that has always bothered me is the obsession of professionals to develop their own language or jargon around the their jobs, if somehow to make what they do exclusive territory only to be entered into upon learning the required vocabulary, regardless of their actual skill in that job. An easy way of de-mystifying many things is to use plain language ALL the time and this aids communication.Therefore, I chose to volunteer the abolition of jargon in teaching, heaven knows, the education world is absolutely riddled with jargon! (Its called “eduspeak”) As the number of important factors grew it struck me that here was a list of things that I do or ought to do; either consciously or subconsciously each lesson. I say “or ought to do” in a reflective sense, since there were items in the list which I do probably not do and perhaps this has something to do with my current struggles in the classroom. Friday 23rd February 2007My recent trials with this group caused me to approach this particular session with no small degree of trepidation; however, I did have hope since this session was planned to contain practical work as well as computer simulation, in other words, all hands-on for the learners. To a large extent the session worked, even the infamous clique and the recalcitrant young man set to with something approaching enthusiasm and this effect was multiplied amongst those already fairly keen. In short, the session worked.
My main problem was that this is a relatively large class to single-handedly control whilst engaged in practical work.With learners engaged on two activities, albeit linked, I found it quite difficult to maintain the level of support and guidance that I prefer to supply. In all I was fairly happy with the session and my lowly morale had been somewhat restored. So just what was right today and wrong during previous sessions? Why did the clique refrain (in the main) from social banter and why did the recalcitrant one display interest and, indeed prove some learning to me? The big factor here was probably the practical content of the session, but that was not all.Across all the subject areas, this has been a difficult group and one difficult for anyone to motivate.
They had been collectively admonished by their course tutor (not his words! ) who taught the session immediately prior to mine and perhaps this also had some bearing. Another factor could be that as time progresses and we advance beyond the half way point of the academic year, some are beginning to realise that no work handed in thus far could jeopardise their eventual achievement, though this programme is a two year one. I do feel that the practical nature of the session was the main factor, which leaves me with a problem.The practical opportunities in this largely academic course are very few and the ability to do practical work is not part of the course, apart from analysis of electronic circuits by interpretation of measurements.
We just do not have the time to build every type of circuit in a practical way and so have to rely very much on simulation and ready-made circuits. I do try to think up entertaining (“Edutain”, there is one for the English/Eduspeak dictionary! ) ways of explaining all the different theory topics, but developing these when there is hardly time to organise, prepare properly and carry out normal duties anyway, adds to the pressure.Wednesday 28th February 2007 Todays’ session began with research into paralinguistics and transactional analysis.
Reading through the squired material, some form of sense is emerging, though just how I am going to apply these principles to my forthcoming communications seminar paper I am not quite sure at the present. I have been thinking about the presentation though and have two ideas, which may be original; to illustrate what communication is all about. One is to do with using the FM “bug” and a radio RX (but only if I can get hold of a working one! and the other idea has to do with a load of sponge balls. The essay for Unit 117 is all but complete, I have pared it down to within the specified word count tolerance and all that remains is for me to do the referencing, That sounds simple, but is quite confusing.
Where should I put it, in the text, after the text with references within the text etc? (and re-finding some of my reference material on the web! ) The handout looks quite useful in this respect though I am worried that I will spend over-much time getting it precisely correct The teaching session that followed focussed on Unit 109.We explored a multitude of factors which make up, individually or collectively, barriers to learning barriers to learning and the ways of assessing potential learners such as many barriers are broken down. The large amount of interchange within the class was very encouraging and seeing problems from other points of view was like having ones eyes opened again. There are certainly aspects that I took away from the session which will definitely impact on my practice. So, now I have a good idea of what unit 109 is about and already I have drafted a rough plan for the seminar paper.Friday 2nd March 2007 Todays session was not planned to contain any whole-class theory teaching, instead, it was to be devoted entirely to either practical circuit build and test and circuit simulation using the Multisim software.
The planned structure, broadly speaking followed the pattern that I had anticipated. A large proportion of the class progressed reasonably well, some did a little but unfortunately the clique was performing only to itself and the recalcitrant one had returned to his recalcitrant ways, though occasionally display a spark of interest, swiftly extinguished.During the session some energetic horseplay resulted in me having to relieve one of the clique of an aerosol can of whiteboard cleaner which he had designs on liberally applying to his peers. The main logistical difficulty is not so much the size of the group (eighteen) or the fact that two different activities were being carried out by different group members, but the fact that no technical support is available for this session.
At the very least, an extra pair of eyes is always useful.The strategic difficulty is in injecting as much practical work as possible into a very dry syllabus, if it be circuit investigation of ready-made circuits or even simulation. That is, something that they do themselves, will in my opinion serve the interest of the learners much better. 7407 Stage 2 1st lesson Observation by Lesley Medforth Date:- Monday 5th march 2007 Class PEO1 and PEO 2 I workshop at the same time. Background Information This session and the one on Tuesday afternoon are for the PEO 1 group and the PEO 2 group combined into one.This came about as a direct result of management intransigence with respect to group sizes. I have continued to reiterate that this arrangement is a very real threat to the eventual success of both groups.
However, there is nothing that can be done at this stage to improve matters, so we have to live with it and do our very best for the learners. The two PEO course specifications are entirely different and the only commonality exists right at the beginning of the courses when basic workshop principles are learned.The PEO 2 learners are all employed students who are doing this particular course as part of their modern apprenticeship framework. They are being paid to attend college and as such tend to be very much more interested and motivated to learn and develop their practical skills and understanding, which is what the PEO 2 course is a all about. Generally speaking, these learners just need a little nudge in the right direction, some appropriate guidance, an occasional topic talk and away they go.The structure applied to this course is that they develop skills and understanding via their own practical experience as they progress through a series of practical tasks, known as modules.
Once the requisite skill level is reached, they carry out an assessed task (module) without any guidance from tutors (except in an emergency). The structure of each session is as follows. After the usual housekeeping each learner is visited and a check is made on what the current task in hand is and how far advanced the learner is with it, the tutor then assesses the learners progress and sets an individual daily (smart) target.There follows a period of general support and guidance in which each learner is visited and support is given on an “as required” basis. At a suitable time towards the end of the session, each learner is revisited in turn to assess the progress made during the session. The PEO1 learners are not employed and are alternatively known as Pre-Apprentices. They have entered the course with negligible academic qualifications, GCSE grade Fs or none at all in some cases.
Their motives for doing the course vary.Many are initially very keen to have the opportunity of a toehold on the progression ladder. Almost exclusively they originate from a poor socio-economic background and invariably have done very poorly at school, as evidenced by GCSE grades or lack of them. Consequently they have always, for various reasons been at the bottom of the pile and arrived fairly demotivated at our doors. The practical impact of this is that as a group, they become very hard to manage. Running a whole morning or afternoon session with them is more akin to a policing operation rather than a learning activity.Several have learning difficulties, usually some form of dyslexia, which creates some barriers. One individual is diagnosed with Mild ADHD, takes drugs to alleviate the symptoms and attends the ADHD clinic regularly.
His problem manifests itself in a complete inability to focus, the destruction of any work he has managed to do(which can be of a good standard! ) and the destruction of any work that happens to be within his reach on the bench. Numerous attempts have been made to secure some form of support, but to date none has been forthcoming.Within the group there are two other individuals who are making very little progress, one is Lebanese with reasonable understanding of spoken and written English and the other gets the ‘bus from another planet each morning. Both these learners have achieved absolutely nothing to date. Session structure is similar to that of the PEO2. The Observed Session.
The session gradually came to life with the gradual appearance of the learners. The level two learners sat, as has become customary in the row of benches adjacent to the window side of the room.These learners are generally well motivated and require no reminders to start working. I had prepared a starter task for the level one learners, since because they lack the level of motivation displayed by the level twos, they would just sit and talk or just be plain idle if not provided with some useful task to do whilst awaiting my daily target setting visit.
This was not an unbridled success, since many plainly did not understand what they were supposed to do, or just ignored it, though a few did look at it and make some attempt.A secondary purpose for the task is to provide a positive activity, if the learner was stuck and waiting for guidance from myself or the technician; Only partial success here as well. As is my practice I projected a spreadsheet of learner progress. This serves to keep both myself and the earners informed of their progress and show them exactly what tasks they need to complete to achieve the overall unit. This is also a popular strategy, since it gives learners opportunity to pick me up if I have failed to check-off a particular completed task. They take great delight in doing this; it is also good evidence of their engagement.On this particular day, the group as a whole behaved fairly well, though two were very late.
Some learners arrived without their current work, having either misplaced it or forgotten it. I took the opportunity of reminding them of their ultimate responsibility for their own work. Though it may seem a trifle ambitious to expect level 1 learners to take full responsibility, I feel that because this course is a precursor to gaining employment either with or without an apprenticeship, then it is essential training for them to take that responsibility.For those who obviously cannot accomplish this, I do offer to keep their binders at a safe location within the department. I concentrated my guidance on the level 1 learners, since it is these who require greatest support though level 2 learners are not ignored and can refer to the technician for any general support that they require.
Therefore I restrict these to just an occasional check visit. I have the level 2 group as a whole on Thursday, so if detailed support is required, or a topic talk, then this is the opportunity to do this.Issues raised and conclusion In that all learners did make progress of some description, most as much, some more and a very few less than could be expected, is evidence that objectives were achieved and learning had taken place. I generally feel that the structure of the sessions, as has evolved, is a good one, since daily targets are set, learners are supported en-route to achieving those targets and a final check against the targets is made at the end of the session.This ensures differentiation and close learner tracking through the whole course of the unit.
The main faults with the session were obviously the lateness of several individuals. With this group, punctuality is an issue across the department and the problem is being addressed on a departmental basis with the regular issue of learner concern forms. However, these are viewed by many individuals within the group as something of a joke, since only on a very few occasions has their issue resulted in any formal disciplinary procedure.The start-up activity was not well managed as evidenced by the confusion of some individuals and I am addressing this by devising more user-friendly activities (without diluting their intended objectives! ) and by using more positive encouragement to get busy. I recognise the necessity for all individuals to get busy as soon as possible.
|STRENGTHS |WEAKNESSES | |Detailed lesson plan(BUT |Individual targets not identified on plan | |Scheme of work. | |Good voice projection | | |Relaxed and approachable | | |Challenged inappropriate behaviour | | |Kept learners on task | |Good progress tracking | | |Good class organisation | | |OPPORTUNITIES |THREATS | |Management of starter/filler activity |Punctuality of learners. |Addressing punctuality. |Technical support going AWOL | | | | | | |From this analysis, I have derived an action plan, which follows. |TARGET |HOW |BY WHEN | |Improve starter/filler activities. |Reformat activities in order to enable | | | |the weaker learners and stretch the able. | | |Use more overt encouragement to do the | | | |activity | | | |Perhaps encourage ALL to do it rather | | | |than just those who are otherwise idle.
| | | | | | | |Before end of academic year | |Achieve 100% punctuality |Work with other departmental colleagues | | | |to develop a common strategy of | | | |disciplinary ction. | | | | |Before end of academic year | |Have reliable technician support |Consult with departmental management |Before end of academic year | Wednesday 7th March The first part of the session was devoted to an examination if minimum core standards. Two things became apparent; firstly, I recognised that some of the standards already fitted in with my current practice and secondly some glaring omissions thrust themselves into the limelight.The in-class networking was also most useful in this phase and I picked up some useful hints regarding the support of ADHD learners. Looking in particular at LA3 highlighted some interesting parallels with my (all but complete) educational issues essay, which is looking at Race and religion in FE.
We moved on to look at some background to Units 110 and 111and were engaged in a group activity to identify the attributes and skills of an excellent teacher. The group of which I was a part brainstormed a list from which we selected communications skills and subject knowledge amongst the absolute prerequisites of an excellent teacher.To these we added such things as approachability, being a good edutainer, being well organised, being flexible as being amongst some desirable qualities. Once again, I drew the short straw and it fell to me to explain our deliberations, but it was disappointing that my brief somewhat halting presentation drew no questions or comments from my peers. Either I had covered everything (doubtful) or nobody understood a word that I was saying, either way, I must confess to feeling a touch deflated.
Still its all good practice for the forthcoming Communications presentation (ideas floating around in my head for that! Starting and ending lessons are always going to be the most difficult part, starting the ball rolling and then bringing it to a halt in the best possible way. I’m rather wondering just how to slot the necessities of these parts of lessons into my planning for workshop activities. Looking at the way I currently do it does seem to tick quite a few of the boxes, but I will have to think of some devious methods of incorporating the others. I do not propose to use the workshop sessions as subjects for my SoWs and lesson lans, as individual lessons plans, each differs very little if at all from its predecessor and the scheme of work just repeats itself week after week except for the very first few weeks. For the planning exercise, I shall probably use the National Diploma Electronics unit, this contains a wide ethnic mix and individuals with prominent needs and obvious barriers to learning Finally we looked at Kolbs experiential learning cycle and how this links in with practice in the classroom.
Friday 9th March A new topic today, sequential logic and quite a tricky one to put over.So I planned the session carefully so as not to overwhelm the learners with a long diatribe at the start. A short recap, partly served by the issue of a starter activity began the session and I developed this into the basics of sequential logic, using a computer simulation as an illustration.
All went fairly well, learners were asking questions and the majority seemed engaged (? ) Following the first introduction, I moved the class into practical mode, to physically prove the principles by using specially designed modules on the workbench.Noting their previous preference for doing things rather than listening, I was surprised by the lack of enthusiasm, particularly from the clique, to proceed with the activity. It took a good deal of gentle and not so gentle persuasion to prise them away form the comfort zone of the computers into the world of practical work.
Perhaps I had gone too quickly and had not explained to activity well enough? Or maybe it was not challenging enough? However, before long the majority did and quickly achieved the requisite practical results.The recalcitrant one managed to complete the practical part and the conclusion that I had asked them to write at the end of the activity, this pleased me, but the majority did not get that far so I was disappointed. Overall it was not a brilliant session, not overtly bad, but one which did not achieve what I had set out to achieve. My disappointment arises out of the learners not being wholly engaged and enthusiastic only to a limited degree. Something to reflect upon, feeling rather despondent now. Wednesday 14th MarchThe session began with a swift revisiting to our old friend Maslow and his famous hierarchy of human needs.
It is worthwhile recapping on first principles, since although we sometimes feel confident that we embrace these in all that we do in the classroom, truth would doubtless disclose that our habitual practice has somehow distorted our own comfortable perception of what we do. The same applies to Blooms equally famous taxonomy, as someone who teaches from level one through to level four/five, this is always a useful principle to carry around in my head.With a small degree of horror I noted that in the four years since I did the Stage 1, I had all but forgotten the finer points (e. g. , Cognitive, affective, psychomotor). Reflecting I notice that there is some correlation between Blooms levels and the levels one to four learner, obviously they do not exactly match in all cases, but I feel that it is sufficiently close to employ as a rule of thumb when devising questions. In the last part of the session I attempted some research into learning theories, Constructivism, Gestalt, Humanism, Behaviourism etc.However, this was rather hampered by the unpredictability of Internet connection.
I shall have to rely on good old fashioned book learning, something which my poor old brain is much more attuned to! Friday 16th March The plan for the session was to move forward from basic sequential concepts into building something remotely useful, for example, a counter. I thought that perhaps when learners can actually see that all this mumbo-jumbo can actually do something useful, then the relevance of it would spur their interest and motivation.The modes of delivery I chose were to do the recap via a Mimio presentation, moving through a short theory session illustrated by a simulation before further engaging learners in a practical session using specialist modules. That was the plan! The first part went reasonably well, most learners arrived in reasonable time and though the clique was on form, I felt that I retained the attention of the majority. However the clique became more and more of a problem, physically moving individuals to another location within the class only eems to work as a very temporary measure and inevitably before long they are together again, disrupting with renewed vigour. There is nothing overtly malevolent about them, just four exuberant West Indian lads out for a good time; but of course, their “good time” means disruption and loss of quality learning time for the others. Those who start off really wanting to learn cannot hear properly, their attention is drawn to the antics of the clique, concentration is switched off and the learning process stops.
The recalcitrant individual, who two weeks ago did display a spark of interest was absent today, while present, he is not a problem to the rest of the class, just to himself (and me! ). His home life over the past year I gather has not been entirely conducive to studying, having suffered a close family bereavement and living in a not entirely suitable domestic environment, all of which together have not made things easy for him. In spite of the resolve of the clique to prevent anyone else from gaining something positive from the session, quite a number did, which speaks volumes for their determination to make progress.These people realised that once the theory had been backed up by practical that this was not “Rocket Science” after all but something distinctly useful arising out of a logical sequence of events. In respect of the clique, I shall try the learner concern form/disciplinary procedure. In my view this will certainly result in official disciplinary action, since learner concern forms are perceived as toothless, which basically is just what they are, they give no recourse to any sanction except a severe ticking off from the course tutor.Having to resort to this sort of action I do take quite personally as a failure on my part to inspire, the fact that the clique behave in the same manner with other tutors is no real comfort.
I must strive to identify a way in which I can stop this exasperating and very disruptive behaviour. Wednesday 21st March. Most of today’s session was concerned with use of the available ITC and was led by Charlie Williams. Via the use of ITC we discovered that lack of ITC use was amongst the most common complaints by OfSted inspectors at the last inspection of the college. The session concluded with what was for me a reiteration of Smartboard training.I’m very impressed, however there is a glitch with the software on my laptop that I will have to have removed before I can explore its possibilities.
Friday 23rd March I was really looking forward to this session. I planned to recap last weeks topic using a Multisim simulation with the learners telling me what was going to happen next as I stepped through the sequences. A Mini-topic, using a simple Mimio presentation would bridge just nicely into the next major topic for which I planned to use a PPt presentation. All this would be summed up by a reinforcing practical activity.
Before the session began I was pre-warned that there would be some latecomers because the car in which they were travelling had broken down. True enough, the numbers were initially depleted and amongst the absentees at this stage were the recalcitrant individual and two-thirds of the clique. I did not know whether to laugh at my good fortune or cry at a lost opportunity to demonstrate my steely resolve to no longer put up with the antics of the clique. This was a bad session from the beginning, as the Multisim refused to load properly so I had to swiftly resort to old-fashioned whiteboard and marker.During this unwelcome transition, in came the latecomers, who added to the “temporary” chaos and introduced some proper disruption in the face of me trying to get everyone settled as quickly as possible. Somehow I managed to make some progress with some of the learners, but I soon felt that any engagement I had achieved was rapidly draining from the class as a whole. However, somehow I got to the end of the recap am maybe one or two did gain something from it.
Because table are in fixed positions in the class, there is no possibility of rearranging them to create the optimum learning environment.With a class of this size (18), it is inevitable that at least five learners will be partially hidden behind computer monitors and the majority have to twist around in an unnatural posture in order to face the front where I am teaching. I try to get around this by myself being as mobile around the room as possible, but of course to use the Mimio or my laptop, I have to return to the front. My steely resolve to control the clique at all costs went all rusty. My opinion of the learner concern form became truth; it did absolutely nothing to stem the tide of disruption.Next time it will have to be the initiation of academic disciplinary proceedings. I carried on. The Mimio didn’t work either so I had to use the laptop keyboard which once again, constrained my mobility.
Surely not the PPt presentation as well? But no, it did work and so from that point onward I was able to restore some coincidence between delivery and my planning. It was far too late, however to recover the majority from what had become a debacle of a lesson was too much to expect. I had expected some resistance to doing the practical and I was not wrong in my expectation.I felt that those who had made a serious attempt of the practical activity last week had found it rather too easy, not challenging enough. So for this week, although not difficult to begin with, I introduced a problem into the activity, which would make learners think about a previously learned topic and put it into practice. Then the last part of the activity asked them to extend todays topic into a more complex circuit so in all, I felt that there was sufficiently challenging material contained in the activity to keep even the keenest group members actively thinking.I was surprised when two groups actually solved the first problem unaided and two others did so after a small hint. That was delightful, however, the clique remained physically attached to computers and actively took no part in the practical activity despites exhortations from me to do so.
So, a curates egg of a session, but mostly bad. Very demoralising to go through such a session, having thought so carefully through the content and modes of delivery, designed to make the most of all possible learning styles. Once gain I failed to control the clique and their disruption was a large reason why the lesson failed.I am rather at a loss as to know what to do, I‘ve tried being pleasant, I’ve begun on the disciplinary route, but nothing seems to persuade certain individuals away from their disruptive bent. Wednesday 28th March. The last session before the long awaited Easter break, if it could be called a break since much of it will have to be used for essay work etc for this course. I’ve set myself a target of completing at least two assignments and be well into a third. The objectives for this particular session were firstly to aquire a good working appreciation of the theories that drive the main schools of thought in respect of the way learners learn.
That are, such schools as Behaviourism, Neo Behaviourism, Humanism, Gestalt, Constructivism etc. Secondly to explore the behavioural traits of learners that make classroom management such a fraught and complex exercise In view of the first objective, I had already prepared a short, broad-brush outline sketch of Behaviourism and so was able to confidently describe its origins in the work of Pavlov and Thorndyke. The theory was based on the results of experiments on animals being extrapolated into describing human behaviour and as such was, to put it simplistically, a Stimulus – Response theory. Oh were it so simple! ) The activity that followed invited the class to match the learning theories with learning styles in a way, which would result in most effective learning for learners. I swiftly realised that there were no exact matches, or should I say, no learning style fitted exclusively with one learning theory.
There were some instances where a particular learning style would predominate with a particular learning theory, for instance, The Activist learner would most likely benefit from teaching modelled on the Behaviourist school coupled with a pedagogic system of delivery.Moving on to the second objective, that concerning behaviour management (at this point it is worth remarking that at that very time, a behaviour management course was under way at a different location within the campus. Maybe the two events could have been combined? ) A comprehensive list of examples of inappropriate behaviour was brainstormed form the class, we then looked at possible ways of combating each, or reducing their effect to an absolute minimum.
Possible solutions were identified and as is always the case, these fell into three main categories.One, Completely inappropriate for my practice; two, appropriate and already using; three, not used at present, could be appropriate, must try that! In al I feel if I had picked up just one useful hint, then the exercise was worthwhile. The follow-up group activity concerned reading a case study and working out a suitable course of action to solve or alleviate the effects of each to the best advantage of the learner and the remainder of his or her class. Though with ach the solution broadly entailed taking similar action, it was interesting to note that while one group looked at the given situation from an overall perspective, recommending a course of action which would take a number of weeks to see through, another group looked firstly at solving the immediate problem in the class before involving other agencies to evolve a long term solution.
In my view, the immediate problem should be minimised and then, a detailed plan of action should be quickly swung into force.If disruption is allowed to continue, then the situation becomes worse and possibly more drastic or even draconian action would be needed. (as in the case of my infamous Friday clique! ) Friday 30th March This is assessment and review week and that being so I planned for no new teaching this week. Instead planning to consolidate what had preceded and to allow learners time to complete and practical assignment work that was outstanding. My ideas was to do a swift, illustrated by simulation recap and then open the session up to whatever topic(s) the learners were most needful of.
Therefore, apart from the recap bit at the beginning, I had prepared no specific material for the session, after al, all that had been done; it was just a case of rooting it out of my laptop as required. So I worked through the session giving 1:1 or small group support where it was needed. Although this was the last day of term I really did expect more than a 50% turnout of learners, so the level of attendance was disappointing. However, the absence of two-thirds of the clique and the recalcitrant learner did make for an overall calm session.
That is not to say that useful work was not done, many of those present did work quite well and I was in constant demand to clear up technical misunderstandings and nudging the penny nearer to the drop-zone. It highlighted to me just which learners were the catalysts for overt disruptive behaviour. Though one member of the clique was present, he in fact was one of those who I was able to help the most. Individually all the clique members are decent lads, the trouble comes when they are together; they tend to bounce off one another (literally in some cases). The obvious option would be to separate them in the class.
The trouble is that I have tried this on several occasions to no effect, I think have said before that as if by magic, they drift back together again and off they go again. As I have said, the only course of action left open to me is to start official disciplinary action, This is something that I really do not want to do, it may even be counter productive in that it may well have a demotivating effect if their natural exuberance is curbed in any way. However, what about the reminder of the class? Wednesday 18th April This was a very full and busy session under the guidance of a new and enthusiastic tutor.The timetable of events, otherwise known as the scheme of work has more clearly indicated what is required and by when and the structure will enable topics to be more closely related to the units. We looked at personal tutoring, and engaged in a useful activity, which identified the attributes required of a personal tutor from three perspectives, those of, the manager, and the tutor and from the learner. There was a great deal of debate regarding the perception of professionalism.
In my view, professionalism is more an attitude or a state of mind than a physical attribute.Professionals must be imbued many qualities, not just possess them, in other words they must have complete integrity as well as possess authoritative knowledge of profession. Just because one is paid to do something, does not make them a professional. Just because someone is very good at something does not make him or her professional. Professionalism is more than just a sum of the parts. Friday 20th April.
I had planned this lesson to closely follow on from the one before the end of last term, with copious recapitulation to cope with the two weeks away.At short notice this plan had to be discarded because the particular unit was selected (Oh what an honour! ) for NSS sampling and so four fully processed assignments (ie completed, marked feedback and learner feedback plus IV check) were required by the end of this month. Aghast I realised that day to do this in were exceedingly few and I would really have to get my skates on. Hence, the original plan was abandoned (or should I say placed on the back burner) in favour of the expedient completion of the necessary assignments.I quickly amended my intended plan to reflect this and to provide maximum support to learners in order that they complied. The session went very well! The plan was very loose and as expected, I ended up doing small group teaching (revision) as well as some 1:1. Fortunately (? ) the main component of the clique failed to make an appearance and the recalcitrant learner was absent, so the session passed completely disruption free. It has given me some time to reflect on the best course of action in respect of the overtly disruptive elements.
Saying to me, you should do this, you ought to do that is not really going to solve the problem.I am in the midst of the disciplinary route and even the threat of that has no effect on the level of disruption. Yet since the majority of the disruptors are also amongst the brightest, to get rid of them will be a waste of their potential. I feel that perhaps stretching them even more may have the desired effect, if only they would get started on anything! Wednesday 25th April This was a really useful session in which we initially looked at some personal tutoring case studies, then moved on to analysing a lesson observation that we had had. The written analysis, SWOT analysis and derived action plan appears on pages 7-11 of this journal.The remainder of the session was concentrated on preparation of unit 113 Communication Seminar paper and presentation.
I realised to my horror that all the work I had put into what I had though was a comprehensive paper, was a trifle misguided and did not entirely coincide with the criteria so a rejig was necessary. This threw my ambition to go first regarding the presentation into a cocked hat; there was now much work to do and very little time to do it in. However, with some good support from the tutor I began once more to get back on track and made some genuine progress.The lesson I learned from this was, practice what you preach, I think of the innumerable times that I have instructed learners to read the questions carefully! Friday 27th April. Today the class continued with their work to complete assignment 2. A small number had already completed the activity, so much of the time was spent in me marking and giving 1:1 feedback to learners.
I was pleased at the manner in which the learners stuck to the task, though in all only six managed to complete the assignment and go through the marking and feedback process. However, this was more than sufficient to satisfy the needs of the NSS sample.I do question the wisdom of having to provide this sample at this stage of the year, surely NSS must realise that in order to provide the samples, centres will have to do some manufacturing, I draw the line at inappropriate practice, but what does happen is that schemes of work have to be “adjusted”; just as mine had to be to comply with the requirement. However, this does leave the next session clear to resume with working to the now delayed scheme of work, suitably amended. Wednesday 2nd May This session was the first of the designated Communications seminar paper presentations.Unfortunately because of my flagrant disregard of the criteria, highlighted last Wednesday, neither my paper or my presentation was ready and so I had to take a back seat this week. As the mostly excellent presentations proceeded I became steadily more uneasy, was mine still out of kilter with the criteria. I surreptitiously looked at my rejig and decided that in fact mine did fulfil the criteria, but in a different way in that mine focussed quite intently on the nature of communication, the barriers to it and how barriers could be removed to optimise communication all using my situation as a model.
Other candidates use far more whizzy ideas, to focus more intently on one aspect of communication, using their own practice in a much more prominent way to illustrate their understanding. The useful thing about having to delay till next week was that it would give me opportunity to further adjust my submission to bring it even closer to the criteria requirement.I was quite taken with the originality of most of the presentations and I suppose my main worry was that my presentation would seem rather pedantic or academic by contrast, so I resolved to try and lighten it up a bit by chopping out a few of the most “boring” slides, but at the same time being careful not to lose the main thrust of what I wanted to put over. This was to be my main task for the week!. Friday 4th May The plan for this session was a busy one, perhaps with too much I it, but, I argue, it is better to have too much, than to run out of material short of the timed end of the lesson.Because of the enforced detour from the normal scheme of work, which runs quite naturally from week to week, the recapitulation and revision section of the lesson would have to be very comprehensive.
I abandoned the idea of including the sequential video because to get the best out of it would require a sound working knowledge of the basic principles and I was not sure that all the learners were in possession of the that knowledge. Instead I decide upon a heavily illustrated recapitulation, involving learners in the simulation aspects. For the first 15-20 minutes, all went according to plan.The paper activity, following the simulation-illustrated exposition took far longer than I had accounted for.
Learners had some difficulty in visualising exactly what they were supposed to be doing. It was then that I realised that I had made a fundamental error in using the incorrect PPt presentation by way of illustrating and backing up the simulation. By the time that learners had reached a satisfactory conclusion, half and hour extra had elapsed, so I had to scrap the actual practical and fill in the remainder of the time with the learners doing the simulated part of the activity.The follow-up practical will have to be carried out at a near future date. There was some “spare” time, about 15 minutes art the end of the session, in which I encouraged learners to progress with their assignment work.
The Clique, less two members was on fairly good form but the reduction in their number did somewhat attenuate the impact of their disruption on others. Reflecting on the session. The learners for most part were initially engaged and well focussed, despite their early difficulties, which was my fault because I had not used the appropriate PPt presentation initially.The Learners had a great deal of difficulty in linking it to the activity I had set them to do. In terms of cognitive construction, learners were unable to connect the experience and knowledge gained in previous sessions with the new material being presented to them, therefore no useful constructs were made and very little new learning ensued. To prevent such a situation reoccurring, I will have to think more carefully about the choice of learning aids and materials and more carefully link new teaching to what has been taught before.
Wednesday 9th May This was the second presentation week. Not an experience that I was wholeheartedly looking forward to, but none-the- less one that should provide some very useful insight into my own practice. I had to wait until the penultimate slot of the day and during that wait, I was not only enjoying other presentations, which seemed far more original than mine did, but also thinking of ways to improve my own. I decided to make a few changes to the way I had planned to do things and to cut out some of the potential boring bits in the middle.
This proved to be not entirely successful, since the so called boring bits actually served the purpose of linking one section of the presentation with another and leaving them out left the audience with an uncomfortably wide leap of faith. This was picked up in the subsequent debrief. Because I am used to teaching in C014, and constantly have to patrol the nether regions of that room during expositions to deter inappropriate use of pcs, it is my way to constantly move around; my stage for the presentation was somewhat limited, so my perambulations were confined to a small area in front of my audience.Some found that to be distracting. Observed session evaluation. Objectives The objectives of this lesson were to reinforce basic Flip-Flop principles, to revise asynchronous and synchronous counters and to introduce shift register first principles.
Planning I planned the lesson to include a variety of activities, which would include a considerable amount of learner participation. After a very brief introduction and recapitulation, the first part of a video would be shown, learning here was to be checked via direct questioning for which a “pick a number” game was devised.This would be followed by the second half of the video, again followed up with direct questioning using the same technique of picking a number.
After the video, a short practical activity was planned to reinforce the basic principles given in the video and finally a Multisim simulation would advance the topic beyond basic principles. The lesson would be wrapped up in the normal manner with a question ad answer session and learner feedback. Delivery The session started on time, but with only half a class of learners present.
This was most disappointing since, naturally, the lesson was planned with the whole class in mind.However, the numbers present did make the session worthwhile and if anything easier to deliver according to plan. The start was more muddled and hesitant than I had wanted it to be, but things improved as the video started and I was able to monitor the learners attention. On two occasions I had deal with inappropriate use of PCs and on both occasions the learners complied immediately. I had omitted to say that learners would not be needed PCs until the latter stages of the session in my introduction to the proposed structure of the session.
The format of the directed questioning was a success.Originally I had planned to show the whole video and then do the questions, but at a late stage I decided that 20minutes of video would be too long and so decided to split it into half, using the gap to do the questions on the first half before repeating the process with the second half. I was fortunate in that the first part was concerned with material already covered, thus providing revision, whilst the second half was a gentle introduction to the new sub-topic. I am really happy that I did, because the net result was that learners by and large remained focussed and engaged.
To be absolutely critical, the transition to practical was a little disorganised, but learners were (unusually) compliant. There were some problems with the equipment. In this case it was fortunate perhaps that only half the class were present and so was able to divert learners onto fully functioning equipment. In all, however, this had the effect of extending the intended practical part of the session into the simulation section. In all only a minority made any meaningful progress into the simulation part of the planned activities.
This was not a disaster, since it can be picked up at the start of the next session with little detriment to overall progress. What went Right I felt that the planning was quite good for this session and I was able to follow the timing without looking at my lesson plan. The strategy of splitting the video worked really well and is a strategy I will use again in similar circumstances. The technique of turning the video learning check into a “pick any number between” game livened up the questioning and produced some good responses, confirming to me that learners had being paying attention to the video.What went Wrong The lesson plan although comprehensively written to cover all the session did contain a fundamental err