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Being involved with teachers, parents and students as a parent and volunteer, the main questions put forward are; how do teachers engage the students and what teaching method do they follow? It is apparent by the responses that a teacher's role is often misunderstood, as a number of individuals believe teaching a group of students, no matter what age is effortless or standing up in front of a classroom and delivering the syllabus or curriculum that is already set out for teachers by the education board is straightforward. Taking these opinions into consideration and progressing through the subject Understanding learning which provided an opportunity to speak with teachers, listen to various programs, read many books and reference materials, it became evident that teaching is not as straightforward as has been implied and arriving at the understanding that teachers are professionals working within a complex forum requires the consumer to observe and understand the factors that encompass the role of teachers today.
Teaching, learning and assessment can be identified as the foundation, providing teachers with essential tools needed to acquire knowledge, understand students and achieve the results required. Acquiring knowledge is essential, as stated in Eggen & Kauchak (2010, p.8) "we can't teach what we don't understand", whether it be knowledge of content - an understanding of any topic required to be taught; pedagogical content knowledge - the ability to represent topics in ways that are understandable; general pedagogical knowledge - the professional ability necessary to teach in any situation, and knowledge of learners and learning - an understanding of how students learn and how motivation influences learning (Eggen et al., 2010).
Once teachers have acquired this knowledge using any method such as books, articles, experience or current technology, they can now focus on delivering effective instruction that allows the students to understand the information that is being received. Effective instruction is the backbone of the teaching profession, it encompasses multiple strands that need to be factored in everyday when delivering information to students which will ultimately impact on the outcomes you will experience as a teacher. To provide effective instruction, teachers must consider how students learn while implementing methods to maximise learning by understanding their genetic makeup. Realising that cognitive development "changes in our thinking that occur as a result of learning, maturation and experience" (Eggen et al., 2010, p.30) plays an essential role in how students learn, while behaviourisms "a theory that explains learning in terms of observable behaviours and how they're influenced by stimuli from the environment" (Eggen et al., 2010, p.164) together with the way students construct knowledge, for example using physical objects or concrete experiences, aids in the delivery of that instruction, this environment is representative of a constructivist environment. Comparing the traditional setting where knowledge was received not constructed, the constructivist learning theory works on the suggestion that "Learners create their own knowledge of the topics they study rather than receiving that knowledge as transmitted to them by some other source" (Bransford, Brown and Cocking, 2000 as cited in Eggen et al., 2010, p.226). Understanding these concepts and making use of these tools incorporates the theories of both Piaget; who identified that construction of knowledge occurs primarily with a child's interaction with physical objects while cognitive development takes places when individuals are able to adapt their schemes through accommodation and assimilation (Eggen et al., 2010); and Vygotsky, who indicated that construction of knowledge occurs when it is first socially constructed and then internalised, while cognitive development occurs directly from social interactions, for example working within the students zone of proximal development allows students to benefit most from this social interaction and providing the appropriate form of scaffolding allows learners to progress independently (Eggen et al., 2010). One method utilising these concepts and currently being rolled out to schools is the Language Features of Text Type program. LFTT focuses on the understanding that children within a school environment come from different backgrounds and therefore have different experiences, it is built upon three main components of literacy; Listening, Speaking and Writing. As students build competency in one component the next component is slowly introduced after careful assessment. Using this example how do we teach the content while achieving the results required? By introducing the revised edition of Bloom's taxonomy; which relates more appropriately to students in the 21st century, we as teachers are better able to understand students' thinking, decision making and problem solving processes (Eggen et al., 2010), by working through programs such as LFTT Blooms Taxonomy becomes a valuable tool. As clearly shown by Overbaugh & Schultz (2009), the new version of Blooms Taxonomy consists of "six levels of intellectual behaviour important in learning:
Creating: can the student create a new product or point of view?
Evaluating: can the student justify a stand or decision?
Analysing: can the student distinguish between the different parts?
Applying: can the student use the information in a new way?
Understanding: can the student explain ideas or concepts?
Remembering: can the student recall or remember the information?"
Working through the teaching and learning process, we have established that teachers must first acquire and understand knowledge in order to be able to teach it and then focus on how to deliver that knowledge using effective instruction while making use of all the theories, concepts and tools available to assist them. An integral part of this trilogy is assessments, they are primarily designed to find out what students know, how they are progressing and what they have learnt (Angelo & Cross, 1993). Utilising the full potential of assessments has shown that it is no longer a process that determines how much a student has learnt throughout their course - Assessment of learning (Eggen et al., 2010), but in today's classroom, "assessments are designed to support and increase student learning" - assessment for learning (Beers, 2006; Stiggins, 2007; Stiggins & Chappuis, 2006 as cited in Eggen et al., 2010, p.434). The various assessment methods used to evaluate students' knowledge and understanding include formal assessment "the process of systematically gathering the same kind of information from every student" (Eggen et al., 2010, p.440), such as multiple choice tests or homework assignments and informal assessment "the process of gathering incidental information about learning progress or other aspects of students' behaviour, and making decisions based on that information" (Eggen et al., 2010, p.437), such as observations made during learning activities or intervening when you observe a lack of cohesion within a group. Formative and summative assessments are used to collect information; formative assessments are used to increase learning but not used for grading while summative assessments are used at the end of an activity and for grading purposes (Eggen et al., 2010), for example, referring back to LFTT, teachers use both formative and summative assessments to collect information regarding students understanding prior, during and after the activity, which allows teachers to identify and focus their instruction in areas where students need it most.
In retrospect, looking back on all the information gathered, this subject promotes a greater understanding of the nature of teaching, learning and assessment. As a future teacher we are empowered by the vast array of tools, concepts and theories that are available to apply in everyday teaching while students are fortunate to be taught using different methods specifically focused on identifying their needs and delivering results. Progressing through this course has illustrated effectively that teachers provide the gateway to a wealth of knowledge and opportunities, in addition, exists a level of excitement knowing that each day will be different with its challenges and its triumphs.