It is with a mixture of sadness and relief that the final week of my prac comes to a close. Sadness because I have to leave the students I have gotten to know and like and relief to be away from the outdated and often cynical opinions of my mentor who is only weeks away from retirement.
I have enough life experience to appreciate different teaching styles and strengths. This is what has pulled me through the past 3 weeks. My teaching style focuses on groups work and students building their own understanding in a hands-on learning environment. The complete opposite to my mentor.
I had to watch her teach the students the algorithm for adding money following a lesson that revealed they had no idea at all of he concept. When I suggested they needed more experiences and time her response was I had to learn by just doing what I was told. The students proceeded to parrot exactly what was written on the chalk board. However when I went around asking the students to explain they had NO idea what they were actually doing. I understand that didactic teaching has a place. What shocked me was the vast difference in opinion I had to my mentor in relation to its application.
I also had to print every piece of correspondence as my mentor refused or couldn’t use email. I know this was an extreme case but interesting to see. I think it is time for a new wave of teachers to take the reigns. There are many reasons why teachers don’t use technology– my mentor had many more then these. It was an interesting placement for an ICT prac. I did manage to hold a Skype session with another school where our classes exchanged strategies used to answer a series of maths questions. The response was ‘that was good for a bit of fun but now you will need to mark the work because the kids don’t know whats going on’ (this was what we did over Skype). This kids loved it and continued to ask if they could Skype for every lesson after this.
They also responded well to the group work i incorporated into the lessons. I has a student comment to me on our back from a group research task in the computer lab that she had never learnt so much in her life and she thought her head might burst. Interestingly this was the same lesson the teacher called a halt to as she felt the students weren’t engaged in the task. Group work has so many positives I think the students should get to experience this at least some of the time.
The 45+ years experience was invaluable and I am grateful for the experience. I shall not be defeated by comments of ICT only being used to entertain and that the students don’t learn anything. My stance couldn’t be further from this.