During the lessons that I taught, one obvious forms of progression was the general behaviour during the lesson. Questions were greeted with hands up rather than shouting out. Also, the number of people who were willing to contribute to the lesson increased. During the early lessons there would be a core of 6 or 7 hands going up for most questions. During the later lessons this was at least doubled. This enthusiasm spread outside of the normal class too. Frequently, I would be joined in Maths Club by pupils who wanted me to go over a concept to ensure it had been fully understood. This demonstrated an increase in enthusiasm for the subject.
I believed this change was induced by the supportive and encouraging manner used during lessons. I ensured this was always the case by applying the rule of silence when anybody else is addressing the whole class. “The need for people to hear what is being said justifies the rule that there should be no talking while a teacher or learner addresses the class as a whole.” (Backhouse et al, 1992, page 139) I feel an equally valid reason for insisting upon silence is that pupils feel that their contribution is more valued if the class are listening intently to their input.
In order to assess whether or not the pupils met the formal objectives of the lessons, I collected in their workbooks and checked both homework and classwork. Relevant feedback was given as appropriate. However, I permitted pupils to mark their own classwork during interactive classroom discussions. Pupils found the work on Shapes and Symmetry enjoyable and the work tasks were performed to a more than adequate level. The only problem area was plane symmetry where some pupils had difficulty visualising the planes of symmetry. The work on measure was very popular throughout the class. Pupils were enthusiastic about real-life applications of measurement, the only initial confusion was between imperial units and metric units. Discussions about Olympic events and World Records allowed pupils to differentiate between the measures.
As discussed earlier the work on fractions was far more demanding. Pupils responded very positively to the colour and shading exercises and to the linking up of fractions to the drawings. (See appendix 5). Again, the pupils responded far better to repeated examples and real life applications of fractions, as Backhouse identifies: “Learners are generally prepared to work quite hard if they see the personal relevance of the topic they are studying”. (Backhouse et al, 1992, page 11) In summary, I felt the class showed marked signs of improvement in their behaviour, responsiveness, enthusiasm and confidence. I regret that I will not see if this improvement is sustained and the results manifested into improved grades.
Evaluations and Modifications. I believe I enjoyed a very open, friendly relationship with the pupils., satisfying Backhouse’s criteria :”A teacher who is perceived by learners as working for their benefit will make them feel more comfortable. They want someone of whom they can ask questions ……. with a reasonable expectation of receiving help.” (Backhouse et al, 1992, page 61) I felt that the lessons and resources were always well planned and fully prepared in advance: “All teachers need to have clear ideas about the lesson they wish to set up and have carried out the necessary preparation if it is to be successful.” (Kyriacou, 1986, page 114).
Whilst I planned lessons in advance, I remained flexible and responsive to the needs of pupils, satisfying Andrews’ requirements: “Weaker teachers are more didactic, have difficulty managing pupils’ responses and adhere too rigidly to their lesson plans.” (Andrews, 1997, quoted in Tanner ; Jones, 2002). During my time teaching, I was continually identifying areas in which I could improve. One of these areas is to explore alternative ways of explaining a concept. During some lessons, I would explain a concept and some pupils would still not fully grasp it. Sometimes I would be “thinking on my feet” about how to explain this concept from a different approach. During later lessons, I always rehearsed at least two methods of explaining each concept. Kyriacou notes:
“It is interesting to note that a teacher’s ability to explain things clearly is widely perceived to be one of the most important teaching skills.” (Kyriacou, 1986, page 61) Although I perceived no problems with CMC, after establishing parameters of behaviour during my early lessons, I was expecting a “backlash” that never came. But I am mindful of Robertson’s statement and would like to be fully prepared for the most difficult classes. “the pupils first find it necessary to explore whether or not the teacher has the tactical and managerial skills to defend the parameters he or she is seeking to establish.” (Robertson, 1981, page 50)