Masters of Teaching Mind Dump #10






You can find previous Brain Dumps here: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9.

Phew, all the assessments were completed and submitted on time. I do find some little bits annoying about the humanities style of teaching in that they don't often provide clear ideas of what is expected. So, for open answer questions (and sometimes the questions are soooo open as to be leaking substantially...), that is sort of okay... but when you are being asked to create a lesson or unit (multiple lesson) plan, and you have literally NEVER seen one before, well, a little example COULD be useful!

Of course, they provide templates, but that isn't the same as seeing an example! Oddly enough, all the courses suggest that a teacher should provide examples of assessments for students... weirdly enough, they don't follow their own advice! or at least, not in a clear way.

I'm still finding one of the courses to be the most exemplary in the way it has been presented online. The course structure is clear and easy to navigate, with everything linked back and forth in a clear and logical manner. This is in contrast to some of the more terrible courses where links are often broken... and that is if they link at all, and don't just say that it is some obscure folder somewhere.

Meanwhile, as I'm writing this... I'm listening to a tutorial from one of the lesser well done courses. It's pretty horrific... the lecturer struggles with technology (after at least 8 weeks of this...), and the pace of tutorial is enough to put you to sleep. I am watching the recorded tutorial as I can't attend the actual Zoom recording... but I have the video playing at 2x speed and it almost sounds like a regular pace of delivery. I had it running at 1x speed and it was appalling... with long pauses and very slow speaking.

Anyway, the best course also realises that they don't need to spend about 5 hours of my time and multiple complex readings of low quality studies to hammer home a point that can be made in a few points. This particular tutorial is about Inclusivity in the classroom... which basically boils down to the fact that students are different, and we should not assume that all students come to the class with the same (or expected) backgrounds and knowledge. Surprise... and she points us to lots of policy documents... which I'm definitely not reading (well, maybe the abstract...) as that would be an exercise in frustration! (Does anyone read these things?).

I do have a very favourite document from this lesson... which incorporates a flow chart with YES/NO decision points... and then gives a outcome for "If Yes..."... and completely ignores the "if NO!". Clearly someone who completely misunderstands how a flow chart works... but it looks pretty!

So, enough griping... I got two assessments marked and returned... and to my complete surprise I got High Distinctions in both. I have to say that the comments were really useful, as they started to clarify what I needed to know and what I did alright. I have a few more assessments still in marking, so I'm looking forward to seeing if I even hit the right area when I submitted them... with the open assignments, I always have the feeling that I'm not really addressing the question!

In the Classroom Management module, we learnt about how little tricks can have outsized impacts. The introduction of verifiably random methods to choose students for questions, early morning excercise, a traffic light scheme for teacher attention and student understanding... these sorts of things.

What was really interesting was the fact that students seemed to adopt "roles" in the classroom. There would be the "smart" kids, who would be afraid to answer questions that they didn't know the answer to already... there would be the "disruptors" who saw that their role in the classroom was to harass the other kids. The kids would play their roles in a sort of stereotyped way... which led to less engagement across the board, and less effective teaching/learning.

Disrupting these roles seemed to be key to getting the class group to function smoothly together, and for all the students to progress and help each other! Interestingly enough, the smart kids were the ones that were most opposed to this sort of role disruption... even to the point of playing up or sabotage!

What was really quite sad was that the students seemed incredibly attached and to crave a ranking/mark system. They didn't like getting comments and feedback without a mark that would allow them to rank themselves against each other! It appears that our education has reached a point of commoditisation... where curiosity and learning is less important to students and the system. I always had this gripe from the point of view of universities... where the US/Anglo model of university learning has been corrupted by the market to function as a "worker production factory" instead of a learning/research institution. Universities now need to MAKE money... not just seek learning.

Anyway, that is the gripe that my father had as a university professor in Mathematics... and one that I also have. University is for learning and exploring.. not for getting a qualification for a better job. If you want that, just go straight into a job and learn the actual field!



Originally published on my HIVE/STEEM blog!


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I am a Musician (Violinist/Violist) specialising in Early Music living in The Netherlands. I have a background in Mathematics and Physics due to an earlier tertiary level study... and so, I'm still quite interested in Science and Technology related stuff!

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The Glamorous Life of a Musician!

Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life! I'm a Violinist and doing what I love is often interestingly contrasted with the reality of getting to do what I love...

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