Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Back to school

Today was the first day back for all South African government schools! As the summer holiday came to an end, many teachers would have spent the last week doing preparation and planning, going into school and organizing classrooms so that when the children arrived today everything was ready and organized.
How did your day go? Was your classroom the caring space you wanted it to be?

The first week of the school year is where you, the teacher, sets the boundaries and the children begin to get to know you and you get to know them. For teaching to be effective and successful a relationship of trust and care needs to be developed with the children.

How do we achieve this? One way is to find out who the children are – get them to introduce themselves and perhaps ask them to tell you something interesting about themselves, for example – what pets do they? How many brothers and sisters are in their family? Or, ask the children to share something that they would like the class to know about them. These little ice-breakers also help us, as teachers, to learn a little more about the children we will be teaching.

Building the trust with your children is partly achieved by involving them in creating the classroom rules. They would also be more inclined to buy into the rules if they helped to created them.
One possible way of doing this is:
·      Divide the class into groups of 4 – 6 children
·      Get the groups to brain storm 5 class rules (give them a limited time)
·      Next step, each group to name and explain their most important rule.
·      Each group gets a turn to share a rule.
·      Once all have shared, ask groups if any rules have been left out that they felt needed to be added
·      Now group the rules.
·      Turn them into positive statements, for example: Don’t say: No cold drinks may be drunk in class Do say: Ours is a cold drink free classroom
·      Make sure that the rules reflect your school’s philosophy.
·      Don’t have to many rules, between and 5 and 10, and keep them simple.
·      The class should take part in all aspects of this process.

For the next lesson / day:
·      Type up the rules.
·      Make a poster to put up into the classroom.
·      Make the children’s copy, at the bottom of the rules add a section for children to sign agreeing to abide by the rules. You should sign it as well on each child’s copy.
·      These rules could be pasted into the child’s homework book. Ask the children to discuss the rules with their parents as well.

May your classroom spirit be caring and considerate for each child you teach! Have a wonderful teaching year!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Assessment, Testing, Finding out where the child is at? Let technology help you!

As teachers constantly want or need to know how the children are coping with what is being taught! We mark books, listen to questions and answer them and we give them tests! As technology is changing we could be using these amazing technologies to make our ‘lives’ easier!

If while we are teaching we use interactive response systems, we can ask the children in are classes questions! Yes, you say, we do this! But by using technology to help you, you, the teacher, can ask the children the question, but now they can ALL ANSWER your question at the same time! So all the children are involved, not just those who put up their hands and who want to answer! 

The positive side of this is that everyone needs to be attentive throughout the lesson – as they all need to respond! The answers are recorded and you can use them both during and after the lesson to assess whether your class is coping with what is being taught!

Another way of using technology to assist us with all the marking is using an assessment programme. These allow the teacher to create and enter the questions, and then as the learners’ answer the questions they are marked!

What a win on our part as teachers! Technology to help assess while we are teaching and in formal situations! We set the questions, but the questions are marked as they are answered. Some assessment programmes can even generate reports and progress information!

The children enjoy this type of assessment or question, and answer session during lessons, as they see it as fun!
So it's a win-win situation!
Let’s use technology to make our lessons exciting and meaningful, to both the student and the teacher!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Creativity in the ‘Classroom’

How do you inspire your children to be creative when you teach?

Our schools often restrict or hamper creativity among the children, we want them to sit down, be quiet and work! 

When do we allow them to learn through play and exploration? What is your classroom like, do the children want to come into your teaching space?
How do we ‘get through the syllabus’ but still allow the child to remain an individual, able to express his or her own views!

Do we allow children to make mistakes, and say it is okay!? Do we tell our children that they learn from their mistakes?

How do you structure your activities to make the learning experience for each and every child inspiring, allowing for individuality and creativity?
Are the children in your class given the freedom to decide how work will be submitted or presented? Perhaps a word document, a hand written document, a slide presentation, a speech or an audio recording. If yes, how do you assess them fairly? What criteria do you use?

As teachers we should be encouraging education departments to allow us to explore different media, ideas and methods of interacting and engaging with the children, so that children are encouraged to “be themselves”.

Share your ideas and thoughts! Allow yourself to be a creative teacher, allow the children you teach to be creative and imaginative in all subjects, including Mathematics. :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Teachers set the scene!

To be asked to present at two different conferences on the same day doesn’t happen often – well today was a day like that for me. Something I have never done before. Both Conferences related to education, the ICT in the Classroom Conference and Africa Education Week had inspiring presentations from a variety of people. The ICT Conference closed today and a relatively large group of people were tweeting about the various presentations, which was informative. Education Week continues tomorrow.

Listening and observing at both these events demonstrated the great divide we still have to cross in South Africa in terms of education and educational resources. We, educators, need to focus on sharing our knowledge with others and improving the way we teach. If each teacher takes the responsibility within his / her own school, and classroom to do the teaching to the best of his / her ability, to be prepared and to want to learn, a large part of our education problem I think would begin to resolve itself.

Making sure we get to class as soon as possible! Ensuring that we know the content knowledge of what we are teaching, even if it means having to go out and do research and learning for ourselves. See the Thutong website link. Being very well prepared for every lesson with the focus on teaching our lessons in a stimulating and enticing matter. If we do this and keep in mind that the children we teach should want to feel excited about learning when they come into my / your classroom! The children should not be bored, afraid nor feel that they are not learning anything!

Ask yourself: “As a teacher, am I trying my best for the children I teach?”

As an individual teacher I also think we should always be wanting to learn and find out. From a resource point of view we can start small and acquire resources bit by bit. We could buy our own home computer and slowly start teaching ourselves. We could use our cellphones to search the interent, we could join social media websites and see what they are like. We should not be waiting for others to spoon-feed us or give us the answers, the drive should come from within us!

Yes there are differences, but as individual teachers we should each go out there and set the example in how we behave and develop our own desire to learn, so that our learners will want to learn and develop their own skills and knowledge!

Come on teachers, it starts with us! Each one of us! It starts with me!

Enjoy teaching – it is a journey! Enjoy the ride!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Excitement in the classroom - we create it!

As teachers we create the environment in our classrooms! How do we do this?
We set the tone and manner in which a lesson progresses and the atmosphere within the space!
We should create opportunities for the children to feel comfortable expressing their ideas and views!
We should expose the children to interesting people they may not have though of investigating - whether it is through a book, a blog, a website or other media - allow them to find out about others!
Create activities and lessons which allow the children to grow and explore their own strengths and even their weaknesses within a safe learning space - can I climb a tree? how fast can I read with understanding? am I able to solve the problem within the given time frame? can I build a successful model bridge which can hold the given load?
Do we allow children to use new technologies, which they find interesting and even important, within our teaching spaces?
Lessons should encourage children to want to learn, explore and find out - do we offer the children in our care that space?
We should LISTEN to the children we teach, learning from them!
We should create the excitement within the classroom - so that the children want to be there, so they want to learn!
We, each and every teacher, we hold the key to making learning exciting!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

When sadness calls

The last few weeks have been very difficult for my family and I. My mother was murdered in her home early in the morning just after my father had gone to work. He is devastated as he loved her very much! When thinking about these weeks they seem to merge into a blur I often forget things or forget to do things, and just seem to be crying all the time.

When thinking about life’s successes, photographs have helped – we have many photographs which remind one of the wonderful times we had together and this helps the pain.

My advice to you would be  - take the photographs, take as many as you can! They really help!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Learning by doing!

When teaching we need to make the learning experience real for the children, make it alive. We remember better when we use more of our senses, by "experiencing" learning. Solving a problem practically makes us think differently! Take the children out of the class, allow them to do experiments or build items. Allow them to engage and work with the learning material, so that they really understand what they are doing, and so that they can apply that knowledge or experience to another situation. Get them to think!

"Learning from Experience" By Marcia L. Conner provides some interesting thought and ideas!(see the link!)

Make the learning truly meaningful in your classroom, so that the children or students are excited about coming into your teaching space!