I went to primary school in the early 1980’s; I had a very typical education for the time, Maths, English, Science, with hefty doses of fear, in the form of the threat of corporal punishment. We sat in rows, no talking, no sharing of ideas just copying from the black board into our books; these days it would be termed a behaviorist model of teaching. My classmates, those who didn’t fit the norm, had a very lonely, isolated experience; in some cases I know the experience frightened them off learning forever. When I began my study I knew that there must be a better way to teach all students, and I am very glad to say there is; Groundwater –Smith, Ewing and Le Cornu (2007) state, “ for education to transcend mere schooling it requires that students be recognised as full participants in the learning process” (p.4). So, my reflections, questions and decision are based around my desire to find a teaching styles that place children firmly at the centre of learning, that respects children, and empower them; from my study I can see it is these approaches that get the best outcomes for students, and enable teachers to be truly effective. I have chosen to discuss in detail at some of the elements of my study that are at the core of effective teaching; knowing and understanding students and how to motivate them, positive and proactive classroom management, constructivist theory, and finally behaving professionally and ethically.
A deep knowledge and understanding of students is the foundation of effective teaching; it is from this knowledge teachers can form a relationship, which helps students feel as if they belong, and belonging is key to success and a powerful motivator, (Marsh, 2008). I will begin my reflection on this topic by looking at the educational research that has proven the link between knowledge of students and effective teaching.
Education researchers Kevin Barry & Len King (2004), assert that teaching is a human endeavor, it requires a relationship to be formed, “ as teachers our effectiveness is going to be determined largely by how we approach and work with this human dimension” (p.125). In order to build such a relationship teachers need to spend time to get to know their students and understand them; they need to mindful and reflective upon the quality of their interactions with students (Groundwater, 2006). In building a relationship with students the teachers must appreciate the socioeconomic variables, the different abilities in a group, ethnic, cultural, and gender differences. The learning styles of a class must also be catered for, possibly through adopting one or many, of a number of teaching models and as Lyons, Ford, Arthur-Kelly (2011) state, by being “thoroughly reflective”; teachers need to constantly reflect on what does and does not work (p.45).
An effective teacher will see this diversity as a positive; as Marsh (2008) states “having students in a class with very different learning capabilities can be an...