The biggest development so far has to be my understanding of English as an additional language, not only did I use to think EAL students were part of the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities criteria, I always use to view students with EAL as a barrier, asking myself questions like, How would I overcome the language barrier? Making myself believe that EAL students are lower ability within all subjects, but this is not the case. Some teachers have little or no understanding of a child's needs that does not have English as their first language. Sometimes this lack of understanding and communication between student and teacher can slow down the students' progress. Whether the child is considered to be one of the following: an Asylum-Seeker, Refugee, Isolated Learner, Sojourner, Bilingual or just new to English, every child matters.
EAL pedagogy is designed to help meet the language and learning needs of students who have English as an additional language. Successful EAL learners will usually have a good understanding and a grasp of their own first language, so while learning English they are able to develop their vocabulary in their first language. In order for a student to develop cognitively and linguistically, they need to have the opportunity to speak and write within the English language from an early stage of a lesson, helping them to become more conscious of their new language, this is also a good way to assess the student's needs, being able to view where they need more development.
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Student's learning EAL need contextual support in order to make sense of new information and the new language; this can be developed through visual cues, helping the EAL student to get to terms with the tasks presented to them though their knowledge of English is limited.
Standard five 'Adapt teaching to respond to the strengths and needs of all pupils' from the Teachers' Standards states;
'Have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils, including those with special educational needs; those of high ability; those with English as additional language; those with disabilities; and be able to use and evaluate distinctive teaching approaches to engage and support them.' (DfE, 2012:8)
After reading and re-reading the Teachers' Standards and taking this section of Standard five on board I have come to realise, that in order to teach EAL students you have got to be willing to learn to teach. No matter where you are within your teaching career you have to learn from the children within you class.
Jim Cummins developed a framework, which shows how basic interpersonal communication skills (BIC) and cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) can be developed through planning and teaching. The framework is helpful to identify and develop appropriate tasks for different students within different classes. Though it its believe that students need to be working from the high cognitive demand and high contextual support quadrant, Conteh explained the quadrants in Cummins' diagram as the following;
'Beginning with context-embedded activities and gradually moving, with talk and action, towards less embedded activities means that children are never left without support, and at the same time are being encouraged to move to the new knowledge which is the object of the activity.' (J.Conteh 2006:11)
After reflecting on the point that Conteh made about how the framework basically helps to build upon the student's English knowledge, through practical activities and a varieties of experiences within the classroom. The best way to help with a students' knowledge is through verbal communication. Bringing me to immersions versus bilingualism, BIC and CALP are both needed to help support a students learning and understanding. Though bilingualism is good to communicate between the same language and you can find out more about this student within their own understanding of their first language, immersion will help a student develop quicker. By literately throwing a student into the deep end with a group of students who only have English as their first language the child is then forced to communicate with these students helping progressing with verbal communication, this can also help with language skills through written pieces of work as the student is learning from peers who are the best teachers to students who are EAL.
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'Have high expectations of behaviour, and establish a framework for discipline with a range of strategies, using praise, sanctions and reward consistently and fairly' (DfE, 2012:8)
Focusing on standard seven of the Teachers' Standards, behaviour is all the time not just challenging. When asking myself what behaviour was all I had in my mind were the students who are challenging. Coming to realise that behaviour is not just those who like to challenge a teacher, but it is also those who push to succeed as mentioned before behaviour is all the time.
Within any school many students will act differently, within different settings and with different teachers. Some students do not like change, so a change to a usual routine can lead to a change in behaviour; this also happens when a student is faced with a different teacher to the one they are used to. Many teachers and students have a mutual effect on one and other, when observing a student's behaviour alongside the observation of the teacher, there was a direct link that you can see that it was as much the teacher's behaviour that contributed to the incident that happen within the class, whether triggered by a bad day or the characteristics of that specific teacher.
Though challenging behaviour is the main obstacle to raising achievement, managing behaviour positively can go a long way towards reducing stress levels between staff and pupils, which helps to enable a safe learning environment.
When monitoring a student's behaviour I have come to realise that you have to take into account many aspects that every child is different, they all come from different backgrounds, with different levels of social and emotional development. Developing a relationship with all the students within a class is the key to a happy environment.
Amy Demorest, 2005 explains Burrhus Skinner's theory as behaviour as being a way to avoid punishment but to succeed in achieving reward, believing that punishment was counterproductive. When taking this theory with me onto my recent practice, it came to show that Skinner's theory was right. Student's will act misbehave but once the teacher has offered and initiative for good behaviour the student automatically stops, because they know at the end of the day they are being rewarded for something they would be getting into trouble for.
Though this theory does come with advantages, after a while of the student being offered a reward in place of misbehaviour the student will soon change their ways and be aware they no longer have to act up in order to receive praise and a reward.
The thought of becoming a teacher is extremely rewarding, but it is going to take lots of work, time and consideration on my part. Planning, time management and organisation play a vital role in managing a classroom.
In order to manage a classroom, I will need to have effective expectations, make use of the resources available to me and have good time management. Providing a lot of work within the classroom is important to provide a lot of involvement for the students, this will ensure that students are focused and enthusiastic within the class. Having a set of classroom rules and routines will help establish socialisation within the classroom, building up guidelines that must be followed within the class environment. Though rules and routines are extremely different, release the overarching principles by which your class is fun, these rules within the class define the ethos of the classroom, they need to positively describe desired behaviour and attributes and in the long term support the students developing self-regulation of their behaviour and management. Whereas routines are the way specific tasks need to be carried out, in order to ensure a safe and purposeful learning environment.
Effectively managing a classroom is important to have the class laid out and arranged in a way that makes learning easier. The layout will have an impact on the way you teach and the way the students learn. For each lesson it is impractical to move the classroom round, so getting a layout that can be used for all subjects is the key. It is vital to see all the students' faces, and you also need to ensure they can see you and the interactive white board or any other resource you are using within the class.
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There are a lot of ways in which a classroom can be laid out and organised but it's the one that suits the teacher best. So for me it will be about trial and error as this is the only way you learn what suits you. Whether it is: the horseshoe, a circle, rows or sitting in ability groups or friendship groups, there are pro's and con's to all these seating arrangements. The only way to see what will suit not only myself but my class is to try each way until I have found the perfect way for the students to get the best out of the lay out and position of resource's so my class will be managed to my best ability.
Taking the above on board and thinking about how I am going to succeed to become an outstanding teacher I need to have a target and plan in place in order to achieve this. Reflecting on my professional practice I can see that I need to focus in more on how the children respond to behavioural techniques the teacher has in place. Though I saw house points being used I did not see any other form of initiative in place for the class. Every Friday afternoon the students would get golden though if they had warnings throughout the week they would lose at least five minutes per warning. Within my year six class they all had jobs they carried out every day throughout the school, so when thinking and reflecting I can see this was also a privilege for good behaviour and gave them responsibility within their school preparing them for the next stage of their education.
I feel that when I go back into school for further practice I want to explore classroom management and organisation more. Asking various questions on how the teacher ensures she gets the best use of all her resources and how she gets the children to behaviour as they are sitting within friendship groups. I can see how this works as there is a mix of ability on each table and the lower ability are supported by their higher ability friends within their studies, but how does she controls the amount of work done and the less chatter going on throughout the lessons.
Though there is only one EAL student within the school, I am going to monitor and explore teaching techniques with this student during my next practice at the school. On my first practice I spoke to the class teacher about various ways in helping this student progress within her learning of English, for instance mixing the ability level she is in, placing the student in a higher ability group than the lowest to try and influence her to speak out more and contribute. The class teacher has invited me to join her class on the second part of my practice to help me gain more understanding and knowledge within practice with an EAL student.
In conclusion I feel that I need to use my reflections to set myself bigger challenges and targets to reach within the future. To gain more understanding and knowledge of the primary school atmosphere and develop my own techniques of teaching.
I am hoping on the next part of my practice I am able to put some of the techniques I have discussed into action through the use of my microteaching. Hoping to explore way in which I can organise my classroom to gain the best use of resources and the best way the students within the class will learn.
Not only am I planning on getting to know my students better but also I am hoping to gain a better understanding of myself. Reflecting and progressing this experience to view myself as not just a student but, a trainee teacher, with the power over the students learning and helping the next generation to succeed into exceptional learners and outstanding professionals.