Saturday, 1 January 2011

Roles, responsibilities and boundaries in teaching/training cycle

Level 4 Theory Assessment Question 1: Review your role, responsibilities and boundaries as a teacher would be in terms of the teaching/training cycle.
Answer to question 1 written by MATTHEW ORONSAYE
As a teacher of English Language and Business studies, reviewing my role, responsibilities and boundaries in the teaching cycle is not that simple and straight forward as they sometimes overlap during my practice in both their implementation and definition. In my opinion, it is for convenience and simplicity that division between roles and responsibility has been made.

Identify needs
There are different procedures for identifying learning needs. Many times, in trying to identify the needs of students, one finds oneself going back to students’ application forms which contain personal details and learning needs with information on their preferred learning styles. Students’ gender, age, moral, social, cultural and spiritual backgrounds do vary, so are their reasons for the course. This is why as a teacher in my subject areas; I look at students’ motivation closely in order to identify their needs. Maslow (1987) concentrated on human potential for self-actualization. He is chiefly known for his ‘hierarchy of needs’. He explained that it is the quest to satisfy needs as humans that inspires humans to achieve and in doing so that humans would want to satisfy their immediate need before satisfying the higher needs. From this I always ask myself as a teacher: What does a student want? How does he think he can get what he wants? What does he like to do to get what he wants? Getting answers to these questions from a student helps to identify his learning needs. Again, students might have physical disabilities that might impinge on their learning. Some others might be with learning difficulties like dyslexia, dysphasia, dyscalculia etc which have to be taken into account for differentiation so as to make the lesson meet the needs of all. The learning styles of students needs to be taken into account because some students prefer learning by seeing, hearing, or manipulating things with their hands in order to learn best. Sometimes, from my experience, it becomes simple when I (the teacher) have the individual learning plans of students which shed light into their learning patterns and the kind of support they could need. This helps me prepare appropriate scheme of work, plan my lesson, and research my subject, with clear objectives for the needs of learners using learning/teaching aids and teaching/learning styles. Having said this, I always have it in mind not to overuse one learning style to the detriment of other learning styles. In supporting my students, I don’t get personal or overfriendly with them. I only keep contact with students at professional level and not get involved emotionally.

Plan and design
From what I have learnt from my subject area, planning and designing what is to be taught needs a careful planning. In writing about planning and designing, Gagne and Briggs (1974) refer to lesson objective, teaching methods, media, learning experience with their organisation and evaluative procedures as ‘anchor points’. Mager (1968) corroborated this with the use of interrogatives: Where am I going? (objective), How will I get there? (steps) How will I know when I have arrived? (use of appropriate evaluative procedures). Sometime, when the school you are working in already has a syllabus for what to teach in a subject, one has to try to tailor the topics to the learning needs of students identified through adequate scheme of work for the term and appropriate lesson plan. In planning a particular lesson therefore, I have always used pre starters for thereabout 3 minutes to make the students gel, relax and be focussed on the lesson of the day. The objectives, outcomes and success criteria have to be made known to students so as for them to be aware of what is required of them for a successful lesson or learning. One has to also decide the type of teaching materials that would best convey successfully the lesson of the day. Is it through the provision of handouts, role play, discussions, film show, flip chart, interactive whiteboard etc. For example, I have always found out that in teaching poems in poetry classes, that the use of hand outs, flip chart, discussions and interactive white board are very helpful. But in teaching drama or play, the use of flip chart, discussions, interactive white board are outside the equation as they don’t help or serve any purpose since a play is meant to be ‘shown’ and not ‘tell’ to be ‘demonstrated’ and not ‘narrated’ to be ‘engaged in by all’ and not ‘told to the students by their teacher’. In all of this, time has to be allocated to different activities so as to make sure that nothing as per content or stage is left out within the time allocated for lesson since the driving force is the completion of the syllabus within the time frame for students’ success. Also, in the stage of designing, I have to recognise equality and diversity, the various ways students learn, a fact supported by Gibbs and Habeshaw (1989). Added to this, the required written work (essays and assignments), how it is assessed, number, length of contact time for learners to complete the course has to be abided with by me as set out by the awarding bodies for the qualification.

The stage of delivery for me as a teacher is very vital. This is where, after all the planning and design, I have to deliver the content of the lesson to students successfully as any failure here means the whole process is rubbished. Describing the different processes or ways of learning as concrete, reflective, abstract and active, which of course students fit into, Kolb (1984, p. 38) believes “learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience”. So, the teaching methods I choose must support the content of my topic. Brown and Atkins (1988), Newble and Cannon (1991) talk of teaching methods such as laboratory teaching, small group teaching, lecturing, research and project supervision, student learning, helping students to learn etc. For example, teaching a play successfully needs me to use the appropriate teaching methods of role play or class participation and demonstration. The resources to use in such a class would be handouts of the play or text of the play itself as each student has to have a copy of the play to read and in some cases demonstrate what each character is saying. Here the use of the white board and lecture method of teaching would not be adequate. It is also at this stage that there is self reflective process which promotes students attainment. The bidirectional process which Cowie and Bell (1999) talk about happens between the teacher and students in order to enhance, recognise and respond to learning. According to Black and William (1998), formative assessment is actually when the feedback from learning activities is actually used to adapt the teaching process (delivery) to meet the learner's needs. Assessing the formation of the students is by observing them on how they ask questions, interact with one another during activities or respond to questions. This enables the teacher to evaluate own delivery, and relevance of content as he delivers content. As part of my duties, I provide safe and supportive environment for teaching and learning, establish and enforce rules like respect for one another, suitability of subject materials for smooth teaching/learning sessions. I also help students access knowledge but not spoon feeding them with it to the detriment of their studies or learning.
Assessing students in my subjects has to do with how well students have learnt a kind of knowledge or particular set of skills. My satisfaction therefore would be if my students have learnt what I intended them to learn during my teaching session. I assess this by asking them questions on the topic taught, giving them tests and encouraging them to make contributions. In doing this, one has to make sure that there are boundaries. Testing should be fair to all students, it should reflect capabilities as regards differentiation (if possible, a dyslexic student whose writing in scruffy should be given a laptop to word process his thoughts), testing should not be used to discriminate between and among students. Assessment should also be valid. For correct assessment and students’ opportunity to learn, it is for me to make sure that learners meet minimum attendance requirements for the course.

In my opinion, the principle of P.A.R (Presenting, Assessing and Reviewing) comes in handy. Evaluation of teaching and learning process is successful when I record students’ progress, behaviour and performance with informal and formal assessment results, paying attention to the learning methods which most enhances students’ learning in order to adjust my present and future lesson plans for my subjects if need be. Here, my reflective practice comes to play as I have to review my role as a teacher at every stage of the teaching learning process. Scrutinizing what has worked well and what has not worked with the use of measurement techniques and observation in order to make judgements and amends for future lessons. For example, typical soul searching questions could be: have I used my teaching methods to the utmost to achieve the best result? Have I used the most adequate instructional materials for teaching learning process etc? Kolb and Fry (1975) talk of learner centred approach which has to do with experience that triggers the reviewing, reflecting, and applying process of what has been learnt. Reflective practice therefore helps me to evaluate properly the teaching learning process for positive reinforcement to both myself and students in facilitating good learning. In doing this however, I try as much as possible not to deviate from the guidelines for valid evaluation.

Black, P. & Wiliam, D., 1998. Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 80(2): 139-149.
Brown, G and Atkins, M., 1988. Effective Teaching in Higher Education, London, Methuen, 245pp.
Cowie, B. & Bell, B., 1999. A model of formative assessment in science education, Assessment in Education, 6: 101-116.
Gagne, R. M. and Briggs L. J., 1974. Principles of Instructional Design, New York, Holt Rinehard and Winston.
Gibbs, G and Habeshaw, T., 1989. Preparing to Teach: An Introduction to Effective Teaching in Higher Education, Bristol, Technical and Educational Services Ltd. 260pp.
Kolb, David A. 1984. Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J.
Kolb. D. A. and Fry, R., 1975. Toward an applied theory of experiential learning. in C. Cooper (ed.) Theories of Group Process, London: John Wiley.
Mager, R. F., 1968. Developing Attitudes Towards Learning. Belmont, Carlifornia: Lear Siegler, Fearon.
Maslow A., 1987. Motivation and Personality (3rd edition) New York: Harper and Row.
Newble, D and Cannon, R., 1991. A Handbook for Teachers in Universities and Colleges. A Guide to Improving Teaching Methods, (revised edition) London, Kogan Page, 161pp.

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