Masters of Teaching Mind Dump #26: Getting back to it!



You can find previous Brain Dumps here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21. Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, Part 25

Phew... it has been quite a long time since I've written a Masters of Teaching Mind Dump, and that has been due to the fact that we have been in the throes of moving from the Netherlands to Australia. So, after I finished the first assignment... I stopped with the studying and reading to concentrate on the task at hand! IT helped that Australia was in the midst of the summer holidays, so not much else was going on anyway! However, now that we are settled in a little bit and jet-lag has been conquered... I'm back to studying. After all, during these quiet few weeks, I don't have jobs to work for... but there is still a great deal of setting up, settling in the kids, and house hunting.

I do have an assignment that is due at the end of the month, where we have to write a lesson sequence based around "Water Quality".. I have a few ideas about that, but I have to churn through the course material first... especially as it appears that my wife and her family want to spend that assignment week on the coast on holiday! Anyway, I did have a few ideas about it... but apparently, we aren't allowed to have school kids mess around with contaminated water... especially the biologically contaminated ones! So, I might have to rethink some idea! Sigh... I forgot, we aren't supposed to potentially kill half of our student cohort before the end of the year, although... it would be a very hardcore way of learning!

Speaking of assignments, I got the first assignment back for this STEM in Middle Years course... and I did pretty alright. What I found really nice was that the marker had written that it was so nice to have a report/essay that was so pleasant to read. I guess that I've had a good deal of practice here! However, if I have to be perfectly honest, it is more like that the other students (especially the Masters ones) write in that horrifically convoluted and opaque corporate/business/academic style... the sort that is completely empty, whilst being somewhat intimidating (or completely confusing) to read. So, it might be more a reflection on that contrast rather than any innate quality in my own writing.

These last few modules (one more left before I tackle the assignment... which my wife will tell me that I will freak out about again... despite getting good feedback and marks for all the previous ones!). These modules deal with the design and construction of project-based lesson sequences. This is where an overarching project is the hook for students to learn the desired subject material... it is a great way of learning, and one that is supposed to be better for engagement and solid learning, but it can be quite difficult to devise projects that both cover the academic material that is mandated by the curriculum whilst also being not shallow or obviously contrived. And, as I mentioned previously, there are many cool ideas that get nixxed at the start gate because they are just too dangerous or out of ability/scope for schools. Of course, you don't have to re-invent the wheel at every year and topic... but I do find that the ones that I modify or come up with myself will be the ones that I would teach with more passion and enthusiasm, and I think that that sort of disposition would be quite infectious and better for learning?

The second last module deals with the "non-core" outcomes that also need to be addressed by teachers and their lesson planning. The teamwork, self-assessment, ability to convey knowledge/interaction, respect, and acknowledgement of other cultures (especially of the Aboriginal people) that are overarching outcomes that help students integrate properly with society and their future work-teams. These are all quite "soft" sorts of skills in comparison to the subject outcomes, but they are definitely quite necessary... but hard to assess properly. Much of the time, they will be assessed in formative assessments... and in many ways, they are the sorts of skills that are inherent in general society interaction and communication so most lesson modern plans and assessments will have them built in by design (although, I do find that the culture outcomes can be difficult to include authentically in some of the higher level Math/Physics topics). We have moved a long way from the "stand and teach" and "exam exam exam" based ways of teaching that most people will remember... however, politicians and parents have not really managed to keep up with this in general, and still think that exam marks are the true indicator of learning. Sad that that mode of thought is still holding the purse-strings, but times will eventually change...

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