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The classroom is comparable to the Broadway stage for so many teachers. It is their place to shine and excel in their chosen career. They both are greeted with an audience, who expect them to perform to the best of their abilities, they are often placed under scrutiny but as an observer, if we take a step back, it becomes clear that many factors play a part in these performers shows.
Learning is imperative in classrooms, it is the teacher's duty to ensure that students are learning, however it is also important, that within a classroom setting, the teacher also learns from/ about the student. Learning would not take place without communication in the classroom. Often times you hear statements such as "she knows the content, she just can't teach us", this is due to a breakdown in communication between the teacher and their students. This breakdown can be a result of a poor teacher-student relationship, which again affects students learning. It is obvious that these three factors are connected with relation to the classroom, however for the purpose of this essay, I will discuss each factor individually. I will try to relate my findings to my subject domain, Physical Education, and as a result, become aware of the factors that will influence learning, relationships and communication in my PE classroom.
From looking at journal articles, it seems there is quite a positive correlation between levels of self esteem and academic achievement (Torres, 1995). Those who are confident and comfortable in themselves tend to have better grades than those suffering with low self esteem. Research has shown that relationships hold an effect on self esteem. Bowlbey (1982) identified that student's self esteem issues are rooted from home, if a parent-child relationship was secure, caring and supportive, this would have a positive impact on the youth, hence increasing their self-esteem. Agirdag (2012) developed this thought further and identified that student's self esteem can increase due to a positive relationship between them and their teacher, leading to an increase in academic performance and motivation. For this reason, the student-teacher relationship is of the highest importance in classrooms. It is vital, as educators that we do our utmost to improve and increase our students self esteem as we want each student to achieve their potential.
Various studies have looked at what adolescents view as the "most important" components of self-esteem. They have found that "physical appearance" tops the list, followed by "social acceptance" (Kutob, 2010). As a training physical educator, I feel this is extremely important to our discipline and it is an area where we can make a real impact on students. We have the flexibility within our subject to cater for both components, especially physical appearance. As a PE teacher, I will try to improve self esteem and aid overall student development by teaching my students the healthy way to make a difference to their appearance. Whetestone (2007) carried out a study of over 5000 youths and found that boys who perceived themselves as either underweight or overweight were significantly associated with suicidal actions or thoughts as were girls who saw themselves as overweight. Keeping this in mind, I can deliver some of my lessons through the curriculum model of "Health Related Activity" highlighting the benefits of exercise to them, what is meant by BMI, how to achieve a healthy BMI etc. I can also focus on nutrition and diet and overall, provide my students with the opportunity and knowledge to change their current behaviours which may be leading to their low self esteem, hence improving their self esteem. To enhance my student's judgement of social acceptance, I will deliver a strand using the Sport Education curriculum model. This model will enhance each student's participation within my PE class. Each student will be a member of a team, this will give them with a sense of belonging, help them develop feelings of identity, learn that they are important to their team and their constant interaction will improve their social skills. Incorporating such models and ideas into my PE class should result in an increase in student's self esteem leading to improved relations between the teacher and student and also amongst their peers.
Communication within a classroom is important in the overall development of students and their learning. It is the transfer of information and process of creating meaning for two or more people, it can be carried out through various different mediums including face to face, in groups, over the phone etc. (Regan Morrissey 2012). Within a classroom of approximately twenty five students, communication is key, the teacher must be able to communicate affectively to the class as a whole and also to each of the students as individuals. In order for the teacher to retain the classes' attention, they must possess classroom management skills and have the ability to communicate effectively to their class using non verbal communication specifically (Kyriacou 1997). Non-verbal communication directly affects a teacher's relationship with their students therefore it is very important for them to be aware of the concept of how they can remain an effective communicator in a professional manner. Tubbs & Moss (2008) affirmed that non-verbal communication can be intentional or unintentional. As an educator, I can implement non-verbal cues in both positive and negative ways in my classroom environment. For example, with eye contact, I can scan the classroom on a regular basis, supervising the student's behaviour but also insuring they all feel included in the interaction, hence keeping them on task. The opposite can occur if I roll my eyes at a student's response, dismissing their attempts, hence leading to the student becoming disengaged from the lesson. It is important that I get to know my students and learn to understand how they are affected by different situations. With practice, I will learn to keep an eye out for students non verbal cues as their subconscious actions often highlight what they are actually feeling at that time, be it uncomfortable, embarrassed or otherwise. Students may be too shy to speak out and let the teacher know what they are feeling. This is backed up by research completed by Miller (2005) who found that nonverbal signals can also be used to express feelings that are too disturbing to state otherwise. In my PE classes, I must be aware of the students who hate performing demonstrations in front of their peers, they may become very self-conscious and blush, hence highlighting their unintentional non-verbal communication and their undesire to partake in such an activity.
The main priority in a classroom is student learning. Over the last number of years, many curriculums have been further developed and improved to allow for greater student learning. Learning in a classroom goes beyond a teacher presenting information to the students and the students interpreting it. Research has shown that not all humans learn in the same way. This presents teachers with an obstacle; they must cater for the needs of each of the learners in their classroom and present the learners with the necessary information to succeed, to the best of their ability.
Many students feel that Physical Education is not important to their lives; they don't enjoy physical activity, don't participate in it and don't believe they ever will. A lot of them are of the opinion that PE class is just a wasted opportunity to get more study done. I believe the organisation and goal focus of the educator has a lot to do with this. We hear of student's complaining about PE quite regularly, 'I'm bad at all sports so I hate the classes', however the curriculum has been designed to incorporate something for everyone. If the teacher delivers each aspect of physical education curriculum, catering for all types of learners through use of the different learning strategies, students should see great improvements in their PE lessons and thrive on the benefits of having PE in their lives. To make a cross-curricular comparison, Milner (2010) conducted a study and found that through use of various learning strategies, she was able to motivate students and convince them of the relevance of Science to their lives hence, increasing their learning in Science Education.
Howard Gardener (1983) introduced the concept of Seven Multiple Intelligences (MI). He introduced his theory to the education sector and argued; there are seven means of intelligence, giving you seven ways to teach, why would you only use one?
Gardener believed that teachers should follow the MI theory as a framework for delivering their classes. The theory categorised intelligence as;
Gardener's theory is becoming ever more popular among educators due to the significant results shown by studies implementing it all over the world. Kornhaber (2001) found teachers responded well to Gardener's beliefs as "the theory validates educators' everyday experience: students think and learn in many different ways." He believed that Gardener's theory gave teachers a framework for organising their curriculum and assessments, and encouraged reflection which, in time, will better meet the needs of the students. I agree with Komhaber, as I feel it is very important for educators to question their work and constantly challenge themselves to broaden their focus and hence, challenge and assist their students learning.
Project SUMIT (Schools Using Multiple Intelligences Theory) was carried out in the US in 1999, where researchers examined the performance of 41 schools using MI over a three year period. Results reported improved standardised test scores, reduced disciplinary violations, increased parent involvement, and increased ability to work with students with learning disabilities (Kornhaber, Fierros, & Veenema, 2004).
Similarly, a study conducted by Schirduan and Case (2004), found using MI within a school setting displayed successful results. However, this study focused on students with ADHD. The students were shown to have high levels of intelligence outside of the logical and linguistic domains. In many schools, students will not have the opportunity to display their intelligence as there are no facilities in place for them to do so. As educators we are committing a social injustice to our students by not providing them with the prospect of flourishing in whatever intelligence spectrum they fall.
As an educator, you want to get the best out of each of your students. Understanding Gardner's theory will aid any teacher who is willing to change their ways for the benefit of the student. I believe his theory is very applicable to Physical Educators and will try to incorporate different elements of the theory into my class so my students can excel in their domain.
I will introduce visuals into my classroom, using video clips as demonstrations for invasion games and dance performances. I will use music in dance and gymnastics to help students keep rhythm and express themselves through movement. Team/group work will be encouraged to improve interpersonal skills during a variety of physical and mental tasks. Task cards will be introduced to cater for those whose strengths lie in the linguistic domain. I will reflect consistently on my lessons, check has student learning improved and from here develop new approaches that may assist the students learning further.
Due to the limitations of the essay size, I have not been able to discuss all the plausible factors that influence the title. I did, however, choose the three factors that I believe have the greatest influence; self-esteem, multiple intelligences and non-verbal communication. I provided a detailed discussion whilst making reference to the PE environment. In conclusion, communication, learning and relationships interlink and accumulate to provide a positive learning environment for both the teacher and the student. A hiccup in the chain can result in maximal learning not being attained. Teachers must strive to improve and retain the positive flow that occurs when the main factors interlink at the right balance as this is when student learning is at its greatest. By constantly aiming towards a goal like this, teachers can remain motivated within their profession and prolong their passion for teaching.