Jiayi Education

Mentoring the Trainee Teacher A Supervisor’s Defining of the Role

Mentoring the Trainee TeacherI always looked forward to being asked to supervise trainee teachers during my teaching career. This was because it forced me to look at my teaching. With the constant pressure of the job, I, like many others in the profession, sometimes went back to the old chalk and talk types lessons far too often. The arrival of the trainee teacher reminded me of all the different pedagogue/teaching strategies I could use to stimulate my students’ learning.

So I would look at ways in which I could show the trainee a variety of teaching strategies that increased interest in my students. Their arrival also meant I would endeavour to teach the “perfect” lessons to inspire them and my students.

In doing this I was trying to create an image of how a teacher works in a professional way. As well I would endeavour to give the trainee a wide experience of school life, not just in the classroom but in the staff room and in the playground.

I always provided more opportunities to experience teaching than was mandated by the university education faculty.

During the trainee’s teaching practice, I would ask myself these four questions about the trainee. (This will only come about if I find the trainee is remiss in his/her preparation and loathe doing more than is mandated by the certifying authority).

1. Was teaching the right career for this trainee?

2. Would I want this trainee teaching my own children?

3. Would I like the trainee teaching in the classroom next to me next year?

4. Would I like this trainee teaching my high school class in the lesson before they come to my lesson?

5. Was the trainee prepared to try all the extras I would provide for him/her?

If I felt unhappy about any of these issues, then I felt the trainee was at risk. I would speak to the other supervising teacher to gain his/her opinion. Then, if the other supervising teacher had the same concern, I would inform the school trainee teacher supervisor and the university supervisor of my concern and ask that they look for ways to help the trainee improve or look for another career. This may seem harsh but teaching is a very stressful career and our children deserve the best teachers we can train.

Once I had demonstrated a particular teaching strategy, I would allow the trainee to try that strategy. This would happen several times during the early weeks of the teaching practice. Once the trainee had a series of lessons under his/her belt, I would give him/her an entire unit to plan and teach over several lessons. This meant that they would work out a testing program for that unit to be given at the end of the teaching of that unit. The trainee would mark the assessment instrument, return it to the students, review it with the students and do any necessary re-teaching of the unit.

After each lesson, I would discuss how it went. I would ask the trainee for a personal critique of their lesson. Then we would decide on what he/she had to work on improving during the next lesson. It might be questioning or the use of his/her voice or the board work.

Occasionally, I would ask the trainee if there was some particular skill he/she would like me to observe and critique.

Often there would be students in the class who had missed work. I would have the trainee take small groups of these students to do catch up work with them. As well, I would give them time, in small groups, with the more able students doing problem solving activities while the rest of the class worked on consolidating the present topic.

I would always check and sign their written lesson plan and write comments on that lesson plan at the end of the lesson. I would enlarge on these comments verbally with the trainee to make sure they understood what I was saying.

Towards the end of their teaching practice, I would do two things. Firstly, I would ask the trainee if there was a particular teaching pedagogue/strategy that he/she wanted to try. Secondly, when a lesson with the trainee was underway, I would walk out of the room to give them the chance to teach without me looking over their shoulder. It gave them the opportunity to see how the students reacted to their teaching without my presence. I was always close enough to hear what was going on in the class room in case I had to intervene.

I would always be prepared to intervene in a lesson to add extra information to help the trainee or to clarify a point being made or to add to the answer of a question given by the trainee in a way that implied that we were in team teaching mode. In the area of discipline, I would often walk around the room and stand beside a student who was not on task to give them a silent message that I was not happy with their attitude to the lesson and the trainee.

I tried to instil in my students that it was an advantage to them to have two teachers in the class room. It gave them two resources to offer help.

Finally, I, as head of department, was able to send my trainees to other teachers to observe some special technique these teachers employed in their class room. This also included suggesting the trainee teacher go to staff and department meetings, getting involved in school sport and attending school camps to widen their understanding of the whole school curriculum.

How To Write Top Notch Papers With Assignment Help For Students

Write Top Notch Papers With Assignment Help For StudentsIt is not a well known fact that most students have poor grades owing to their turning in poor assignments. Either their assignments aren’t well researched or they lack in cogency, presentation or arrangement of ideas. All these factors could bring down the grades for their assignments and this would in turn impact their GPA. However, with assignment help online for students, this will no longer be a major concern.

When students seek assignment help from professionals and tutors, they are first given a background on the topic at hand. They are encouraged to research the topic and come up with a rough outline of the assignment. Once this is done, the tutors help them arrange their ideas and then work on a draft. The draft is then scored and evaluated by the tutors and they come up with a list of things that can be modified or corrected.

For instance, if a student only needs minor tweaks, the tutor would work with him and help him make the modifications and work on his presentation skills and writing style to finally come up with a stunning paper. The student not only scores well but also learns how to approach an assignment and how to go about writing it. When a student’s draft is poor in quality, the tutor sits with him to help him understand the topic on which the assignment is based and thus enables him to proceed to work on the assignment.

When it comes to tough topics like accounting, students would indeed need expert help to perform well and in such cases they can seek assignment help accounting services from online platforms which offer tutoring help round the clock and get all their doubts clarified. Students may also opt for full-fledged sessions to learn the topic on hand thoroughly. There are umpteen numbers of options available in such platforms as per the individual requirements of students.

If students want help for programming assignments, that too is available in such platforms. For instance, if a student is not particularly confident in Java and has to submit an assignment in it, he/she could very much avail help online and work on the assignment. When a student gets java programming assignment help, the tutor/expert would help him/her whenever the student is stuck with a particular piece of code or logic. The tutor would help the student think and come up with an algorithm that gets the job done and also would teach him/her about the practices and code modifications for getting efficient subject skills.

Learning online or seeking help online thus widens the exposure level of students and helps them come up with assignments that are of good quality and are plagiarism free. Seeking help online is also easier for students as they can contact the tutors any time and get clarifications for their doubts. Thus, the online platform for education is what students are turning to for better grades and will continue to thrive in the future.

When students seek expert help for assignments, not only do they learn the underlying concepts thoroughly, they also learn the art of writing good assignments. This is sure to help them in higher grades and in college where a lot of importance is placed on assignments and on the grades students secure in them. Thus, assignment help is the key to a better GPA and a bright academic future for students.


Helping Your Students Get a Strong Start on Learning

Helping Your Students Get a Strong Start on LearningLet’s face it; learning is complicated. In fact, the more we learn about learning through research, the more complex and nuanced our understanding of the processes involved gets.

The good news is that we have, in fact, learned a great deal in the past few decades about how the brain goes about committing new knowledge and skills to long-term memory. The bad news? Much of this information is sitting in obscure journals on dusty library shelves and sitting on websites only visited by cognitive scientists, psychologists, and neuroscientists.

For many of us in education–those of us who need this information to inform our daily work with students–some of this information may just as well have never been discovered, since so little of it has made its way into mainstream education channels and teacher training institutions. But never fear; in this article, and those to come in the next few weeks, I will tackle all of this complexity and break it down for you in ways that will allow you to apply the information to your own teaching practice.

Encoding: Initial Conditions are Crucial

The first step in learning anything is encoding, so let’s start there. In this first stage, the learner inputs something (new information, a new idea, a new skill) through his senses. If he deems it worthy of attention, he focuses his consciousness on the material. This means that he pulls the salient aspects of the material, plus any related information from prior knowledge, into working memory and processes it in some way. During and immediately following this processing, the brain undergoes chemical and electrical changes that form a mental representation of the material that is stored in memory.

Encoding is the crucial initial stage of learning anything new. If encoding doesn’t happen, the brain has nothing new to consolidate into long-term memory over the coming hours, and there will be nothing to retrieve from that material later. In other words, without encoding, no learning takes place.

In my mind, there are two crucial roadblocks to encoding that teachers must keep in mind when planning and delivering lessons: attention and prior knowledge. If the student doesn’t bring attention to the material, she doesn’t pull the new material into conscious working memory for processing. If this doesn’t happen, no learning will take place. So making sure students are paying attention to the material is critical.

Students also need to be able to connect the new material to what they already have stored in long-term memory (prior knowledge). Teachers who habitually pre-assess their students for prior knowledge before teaching new material will be in great shape to design effective processing activities because they are already aware of what each student does and does not know about the material to be taught. Teachers who have not pre-assessed for prior knowledge are simply guessing about what their students know–and guessing is never a good teaching strategy.

Armed with good pre-assessment information about their students’ knowledge, teachers can design processing activities that are “just right” for their students. If a processing activity asks students to process something they already know, the activity will be boring. As a result, students will not pay sufficient attention to the material, and encoding won’t happen. If, on the other hand, the activity asks students to process material that is well beyond their current prior knowledge, they will be unable to make connections to the new material, they will struggle, and many of them will give up on the activity. Once again, attention is lost and encoding doesn’t happen.

So, to summarize, if teachers want encoding to take place (and we do), they need to make sure that their students focus attention on the material and make sure that the material they ask students to process is closely enough related to their background knowledge of the topic so they can make connections.

Structure of Interactions vs. Content of Interactions

So, let’s assume a teacher is well aware of the importance of attention and prior knowledge and keeps these issues in mind when she sits down to plan the processing activities to be used during a lesson. Are these the only considerations that she needs to be mindful of in her planning? Not at all.

For one thing, she needs to choose the specific type of activity she will have the students engage in for their processing. At this point, I think I should point out that both the structure of the activity and the content to be processed during the activity are important. By “structure of the activity,” I mean what students are asked to do. A think-pair-share is a structure. A reciprocal reading activity is a structure. A gallery walk is a structure.

When I talk about the “content to be processed,” I’m talking about the material that students will talk about during the think-pair-share, the material the students will be reading during the reciprocal reading, the material students have posted to be shared during the gallery walk.

I know I run the risk of sounding too simplistic here, but I think it’s important to unpack these two aspects of processing activities and look at them separately because each of them impacts learning differently.

When we think about what structure we will choose for an activity, we need to ask ourselves questions such as:

  • Will an individual processing activity be best at this point? A pair activity? A small group activity?
  • Do the students need to move during the activity? If so, how vigorously?
  • Could the students benefit from a social component during the processing? Or would it be best for them to do the initial processing individually, then add the social component with a sharing activity?

These and many other questions need to be entertained when selecting the structure of a processing activity.

What about the content of the activity–that is, the material that students will be processing? Key considerations here have to do with how near or far the material is to students’ prior knowledge and the overall complexity/difficulty of the material. As mentioned previously, if the material is already known by students and is thus too easy, students will be bored and will goof off during the activity. If, on the other hand, the material is too foreign to students or too difficult for their current understanding of the topic, the activity will be frustrating, and students will give up.

So here’s the take-away: choose a structure for your activity that will maximize engagement and attention, and choose content for the activity that aligns with the “sweet spot” of your students’ current understanding of the topic.

The Top Two Factors for Strong Encoding

OK, if a teacher has taken into account everything outlined above as he plans his lesson, he will have pre-assessed his students on the material that he plans to input, he will have carefully chosen structures for his processing activities that will help get and hold students’ attention, and he will have carefully chosen the content to be processed during these activities so that they allow students to make connections to their prior knowledge. And all of that is good–but there are still a couple of factors he can build into his processing activities to ensure that great encoding happens.

Those two key factors are: (1) relevance and (2) emotion. Ask yourself, “In what way or ways is the material relevant right now to my students’ lives outside of school? How can they apply this material in their day-to-day existence?” Find an answer to these questions and build those connections into both the input portions of your lesson and into the processing activities following that input, and you will have a winner! The brain simply pays much better attention to information it deems relevant, so relevance always boosts encoding.

Emotion is also a powerful encoding booster. When we have strong emotions concerning something, our brain chemistry changes in order to maximize the chances that we will learn from the situation. This is why we tend to remember the highest highs in our lives and the lowest lows, but we tend to forget the same-old-same-old everyday experiences.

Now, I realize that it’s not always possible to make a clear connection to relevance with every topic you teach. Similarly, it’s not always going to be possible to raise the level of emotion around every processing activity. But it is certainly worth the effort to try to include these two “encoding boosters” whenever possible.

Pulling It All Together: Your Processing Activity Planning Checklist

So, to pull it all together, here are the elements you want to make sure you consider with every processing activity you plan:

    • Attention (how can I get it, direct it properly, and maintain it at a high level during the activity?)
    • Prior knowledge (how can I pre-assess it, and how can I use the results of that pre-assessment to maximize the chance that my students will be able to make connections between their prior knowledge and the new material?)
    • Activity structure (what structure will keep students engaged with the material?)
    • Activity content (what content should I have the students process? How can I ensure the content I ask them to process is in the complexity/difficulty “sweet spot”?)
    • Relevance (how can I make my students see how this material is relevant to their lives today?)
    • Emotion (how can I add an emotional “hook” to the activity so that students are engaged not just intellectually, but emotionally, as well?)

Use this list as a checklist whenever you sit down to plan your lessons. Simply running through it and asking yourselves the questions will help you make good choices for lesson design that will maximize your students’ initial encoding of the material.

And be on the lookout for upcoming articles, where I’ll go into the steps you need to take to follow up this good initial encoding in order to maximize long-term memory.


Four Secrets to Maximizing Your Professional Development Teaching Skills

Teaching SkillsYour primary goal in becoming a better professional development teacher is to assess the needs of your audience and strategize the best way to break through to them. Communication is the key to addressing their goals on a level that they find helpful. Even more, working with adults is not like working with children; there are several additional layers of effort needed to instruct older individuals. This inherently means more planning, which brings us to our first and foremost tenant.

Plans and Preparation

Planning is perhaps the most influential tool you can use to your ability to overcome challenges like teaching others excellent professional development skills. A good rule to use when trying to manage time in the preparation phase is to “double your chances.” For example, if you wanted to deliver a two-hour speech on an aspect that you felt was important, you should put in at least four hours of research and preparation into the speech. The idea is to develop every point in your timeline, from public speaking to the slides, segues between segments, and so on. This way when the moment arrives, you can excel in the delivery phase.

Controlling Choice

Another aspect of teaching professional development skills is to engage your audience with choices. If individuals listen to instructors for too long without participating, they are liable to neglect to listen. To keep them focused, pose queries that can be rhetorical, but require effort. For example, in the previous scenario of delivering a speech, one might take the time to have participants write down an example of two issues they have and choose between the more important priority for their goals. By doing this, not only do you show them the power of choice, but you also keep them thinking about how it can improve their professional habits.

Experience Changes Interactions

You don’t want to treat adults like children. Patronizing them is usually the fastest way to lose their respect. And just as you’ll want to keep them under the notion that they are controlling their education, you’ll also want to tailor that education to their experiences. One way to fail at this is to take the overused stance of forced accountability, or “guilt tripping.” It is generally not the greatest idea to remind individuals of their past mistakes.

Praise Properly

Praise is an excellent teaching tool, and should never be undervalued. For example, if you’ve been exploring past successes in a group setting, it’s important to highlight the strengths of others. As someone recounts a tale or testimony of their particular professional development skill, they should be lauded for their efforts and strategy, given that they were appropriate. This sort of feedback will encourage others to do the same for you in a meta sense; students will approach you and offer their own feedback on your performance as an instructor. Once you’ve created a positive link on this level of communication, you’ve already taught students an invaluable tool that they’ll use for the rest of their careers.

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