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Teaching - Reflections, Questions, Decisions

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This document will discuss a range of ideas to illustrate Teaching - Reflections, questions, decisions, which are all parts of the cycle of teaching (Hurst & Cooke, 2010, p. 6). All three parts of the cycle of teaching will be discussed in relation to their applications in the teaching profession, with examples wherever possible to help illustrate the discussion, and evidence from text books and academic journals to support the document. The discussion will focus mainly on the aforementioned elements of the cycle of teaching.

The cycle of teaching involves three main elements taking place simultaneously, reflection, questioning and decision making (Hurst & Cooke, 2010, p. 6). When we reflect on a situation we are, in effect, questioning the methods and decisions made.

According to Hurst and Cooke (2010, p. 6) everybody has different perceptions as to what constitutes an effective teacher, and one description would include the ability to ask questions.

"If one continually applies a questioning approach to life, then it follows that one is likely to be constantly learning" (Hurst & Cooke, 2010, p. 6)

A good teacher will ask many questions and encourage their students to ask as many, if not more, questions. By encouraging this questioning and reasoning process the teachers are in effect encouraging a desire for knowledge in their students, which will follow them for their life's journey not just in formal education, but in every day life as well. For example, a person reading the newspaper at the breakfast table is learning about recent current affairs, or a child playing a sport for the first time is learning about team work. They are satisfying their thirst for knowledge, and as teachers we should encourage this thirst for knowledge.

By asking questions in the classroom teachers are encouraging students to discuss ideas and explore their own knowledge. Students will also ask questions and teachers need to be prepared to answer these questions. In order to enhance the students learning the teacher often needs to allow the students to ask questions, to explore their own curiosity and knowledge and understanding.

An example of a question that Hurst and Cooke (2010, p. 6) give in their introduction is "what can I do better and how can I do it?" This question relates to the first element in the cycle of teaching, reflection, and the further notion of challenge.

By asking this question teachers are able to evaluate their own methods, to decide if their methods of teaching were the most appropriate for the situation. Alternatively students who ask themselves this question are also evaluating their work, and can then decide if the work they produce is of the best possible standard.

Once a teacher decides that the method they use is the best for their situation they need to challenge themselves and their students, encouraging further knowledge. Hurst and Cooke (2010, p. 6) suggest that questioning is the heart of the teaching cycle. They state that teachers must be prepared to question or evaluate themselves, their work, and their students, but they also suggest that merely asking questions will not encourage learning, but "considered action, or decision, followed by reflection must follow for genuine learning to occur".

Once a teacher decides on the lesson plan they must reflect on it, questioning it from every angle to ensure that it is easy for students to follow, that any tasks involved are engaging enough to encourage the students to satisfy their thirst for knowledge by wanting to learn more about the subject, that the outcome is reasonable, and the assessment is achievable for the level of education being taught.

The teacher needs to encourage the students to ask questions, to seek more knowledge on the topic. One way to do this is for the teacher to be enthusiastic about the topic themselves. Roy Killen (2005, P. 33) suggests that the teacher should always be passionate and enthusiastic about the subject they are teaching, and show equal enthusiasm in their classes. This can sometimes be enhanced if the teacher has knowledge above and beyond the curriculum itself, as they can then answer questions that are driven by interest and foster this interest in the students.

If a teacher is excited about a subject their students will be more excited and motivated about learning the topic. If a teacher shows a lack of enthusiasm the students will assume the feeling that they do not need to learn the subject themselves, and will consider the subject to be "boring" and will develop a resentful feeling of "being made to learn it".

This supports the necessity for a teacher to reflect on their lesson plans, ensuring that they are excited about the topic enough to encourage their students' learning growth.

Colin Marsh (2010, p. 126) states that all teachers, particularly student teachers, need to reflect on the effectiveness of their lessons. Questions that teachers need to ask themselves during this reflection process include evaluating how well students reacted to the lesson, which activities were well received and which were not, what problems were evident and why, were the outcomes realistic, and which students seemed to gain the most and which did not.

By reflecting on a lesson the teacher can decide if further work on that topic is required and why this may be the case. If there was a problem in the lesson it is important to determine early what the problem was and how to correct it. By correcting the problem early the teacher is able to ensure all students understand and learn the material required.

Marsh (2010, p. 221) suggests that reflection is not only used for lesson evaluation, but also to make meaning out of any problems that occur.

Singh, et al. (1997, p. 107) suggests that teachers should work through the problems encountered in the classroom with their peers so that any questions raised can be discussed.

While Singh's suggestion is ideal, in practice this may be difficult to organize and the teacher will need to resort to self reflective exercises.

Sometimes student misbehaviour



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