At this point I have unfortunately finished my student teaching in Australia, however, in my time here I have gotten to observe and teach a lot more than ever expected. I have been able to look at my CT’s methods of planning lessons and I given opportunities to plan my own as well. In terms of planning for lessons, my CT definitely takes the time to plan out each part of her lessons, from the introduction all the way up to the conclusion. This is shown by the effectiveness of her time management throughout each of her lessons. This was also a recommendation she gave me for my future lessons, in that she explained how important is to plan out exactly how much time you want to take for the introduction to the lesson, for the lesson itself, and for how to wrap-up/conclude the lesson. This helps ensure that everything gets covered and that no one part of the lesson drags on for longer than it should. Of course there will be some variation from the plan if students are having trouble or if they are flying through the material, however, it is important to have that general idea. In terms of delivery, my CT begins each lesson with a whole class introduction. Students are told to come to the front of the classroom and sit on the rug while my CT is in the front of the class at the Smartboard. Here, she introduces the topic that is going to be addressed in the work that is to follow. This whole class discussion is usually followed by individual work, which is done in the form of a worksheet addressing the topic that was introduced. Students are told to work individually, but if one student has a question or if a student finishes early, student collaboration is encouraged. This work is finished off by a wrap-up or conclusion of the topic that was covered in order to go over what the students got out of the lesson.
Handwriting seems to be one of the more structured and teacher led subjects. Each week, my CT leads the students in practicing writing a specific letter of the alphabet. Using the Smartboard, my CT will start with the lower case version of the letter. Students are meant to copy this into their handwriting journals. This process continues with the capital letter, a word beginning with this letter, and a sentence where every word begins with that letter. While the students are working, my CT is walking around checking all of their work and making sure each letter hits each line on the page in the correct spot. This lesson becomes much more of a step by step process than her other lessons and it shows how important handwriting is to my CT. She stresses as close to perfection as the students can get, instilling it early so it sticks with the students as they get older.
The biggest challenge I have seen my CT face is dealing with the differing ability levels of students in her classroom. She has a wide range of students in terms of abilities causing her to always have extra work planned for those students who finish early or modified work for students where the work may be too difficult. This is especially relevant in her classroom because it is so focused on individual student work so students are constantly finishing at different times. Having these extra plans was another recommendation my CT gave for my lessons. She even advised letting the students who finish quicker help those who may be struggling. She felt that as long as they had something to do to keep them productive and not disturbing other students than it was important to let everyone finish at their own speed. Her overall teaching style seems to be similar to what I have observed in America in terms of objectives and what they each want to get from the students, but the method of delivering the lessons are different. With what I have observed here, there is much less teacher lead “teaching” and more focus on students working individually and taking responsibility for their own work. This could be because here in Australia I am in a first grade classroom so keeping students busy with different worksheets may be more effective than having them sit and listen to the teacher for extended periods of time. In both classrooms, however, it seemed that the teachers were very effective in keeping student attention and getting the material across. I would need to still observe more teachers to get a sense of whether one method works better than another, or whether it is just be the teachers knowing their class and knowing how to best get across to their students.