Summary and reflection: Day 5 (EDN550)

This summary and reflection are part of my coursework for EDN550 Transition to Teaching, the initial intensive unit of the Graduate Diploma in Education at Murdoch University in 2018. This is the last of five such summaries and reflections.

Summaries and reflections:Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4 • Day 5

Summary

  • Family, schools, and community relationships (FSCR).
  • Australian Professional Standards for Teachers 7.3/7.4: Engage with parents, professional teaching networks and community.
  • Important relationships: mentors, colleagues, students, parents.
  • Research says that good relationships … lots of good stuff for school and learning. Including reducing substance abuse!
  • Dimensions of family diversity … structure, employment, education level, cultural background, language, support network.
  • Dimensions of family and community engagement … communicating, connecting learning at home and at school, building community and identity, recognising the role of the family, consultative decision making, collaborating beyond the school, participating.
  • There are published strategies for engaging parents/carers and the community. Family–school partnerships framework (DEEWR) elaborates.
  • The framework contains: a vision, a set of principles, seven key dimensions, a set of strategies.
  • “Families are the first educators if their children …”
  • “Family involvement in schools is central to high-quality​ education and is part of the core business of schools.”
  • “Families that understand the education system and the difficulties schools face are a valuable source of support which schools cannot afford to underestimate.”
  • Australian Council of State School Organisations (ACSSO).
  • Australian Parents Council (APC).
  • Next professional experience priorities … relationships, curriculum, organisation (and planning), pedagogy, social justice.
  • Types of classroom power … positional, expert, referential.
  • Characteristics of “best teacher” … care and interest, communication skills, listening skills, coping skills, proficiency in education-specific skills.
  • Teaching skills for better teachers … have high expectations, be organised, follow through, be flexible (CMS, pedagogy and curriculum), be fair, plan plan plan, engage!
  • Teaching challenges in the 21st century … you may not always be held in the highest regard, teaching is work, teachers can feel alone and unprepared, a changing policy environment, geography, conflicting demands, the changing nature of knowledge, student social, physical and emotional health and wellbeing, increasing student diversity, the teaching workforce, the workplace, expectations of the student-teacher, resilience.
  • Being an expert in a field doesn’t mean you’re automatically an expert in teaching it.
  • Policy shift from state to federal control.
  • WA is geographically remote, less relevant in a digitally connected world?
  • Maybe ‘The changing landscape of knowledge’ should read ‘The changing landscape of information’.

Reflection

The final day, and it’s all about where we, as a society are going.

In my previous experience, my teaching has not included much in the way of engagement with parents and the community. When teaching English, the Chinese teachers acted as a buffer between us and the parents. And later, when teaching adult learners, parents were not part of the equation and the school kept us locked into our roles, except occasionally for marketing purposes. Now, though, I am starting to see and appreciate engagement with parents and the community. And I look forward to greater engagement in my future teaching assignments.

The Family–school partnerships framework (DEEWR) unpacks family diversity and family/community engagement really well. Personally, I found the section that described the seven key dimensions of family-school partnerships more informative and stimulating than the specific strategies suggested in the next section. That’s likely to do with how I think, whereas others might need to see that section first. This brochure is already in a pretty good format, so I think I’ll just keep a printed copy on hand (in my ‘How to teach’ folder).

While it was mind-expanding to consider all the benefits of family, school, community relationships, I admit that I did struggle to connect it specifically with mathematics teaching. Mathematics is part of the whole school program and as such benefits or suffers with the success or failure of the school’s broader efforts. But, I could at least start to see some avenues for specifically reaching out to parents and the community in contexts that deliberately and specifically support the mathematics curriculum. I wrote about some of those in the online tasks.

The other part of this section was about teaching in the 21st century. It’s catchy to throw around the term 21st century but its constructive. It keeps discussion and minds open about embracing change and focusing on delivering for future outcomes.

The lecture outlined thirteen challenges facing teachers in the 21st century. While I appreciated the insight on each challenge, I also felt that some of these didn‘t deserve to be put under the category of “21st century teaching challenges”. I think many of them are things that have always challenged teachers. But, undeniably, all of them have different implications for contemporary teachers and teaching.

However, things are different today and we have to explore what that means for teaching and schools. One example is ICT literacy. It’s becoming a known misnomer digital native does not mean computer literate or proficient. I think the influences on children and the implications for teaching of 21st century technology go way deeper than things like competency using Snapchat or Word. The Australian curriculum hints at these but I am not yet confident that schools and teachers will pick up on this well … yet. And I think there will be a lot of inappropriate adoption of technology in schools that makes administration easier but doesn’t aid learning and probably even gets in the way of it. There are incredible possibilities for fundamentally changing the nature of education (even as far as dispensing with year groups and planned lesson) that can be enabled with technology. But for now and for me, I think I have a good handle on how technology can be integrated into the mathematics classroom to improve teaching and learning.

Disclaimer

These are personal notes and reflections. Portions of the summary are taken verbatim from the various lectures, presentations, readings and videos. I have not distinguished between what are my own ideas, what is my own writing (or paraphrasing), and what is taken from the source materials.

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