A teacher named Ashley reflects: She looked around the classroom, enjoying a blessed moment of quiet after the

students left at the end of the day. Ashley, the teacher, that s me , she said proudly to the empty room. But why am I doing this? she asked herself quietly and realized she wasn t always sure of the answer. But then she remembered one reason: she was teaching for Nadia, who sat at the table to the left, always smiled so well and always (well, usually) tried hard. And another reason: she was teaching for Lincoln, tired old Lincoln, who needed her help more than he realized. She remembered twenty other reasons twenty other students. And one last reason: she was also teaching for herself, challenging herself to see if she really could keep up with twentytwo young people at once, and really accomplish something worthwhile with them. She was teaching so she could keep growing as a person, keep connecting with others, keep learning new ideas. That s why she was teaching.

The joys of teaching
y Why be a teacher? The short answer is easy: y to witness the diversity of growth in young people, and

their joy in learning y to encourage lifelong learning both for yourself and for others y to experience the challenge of devising and doing interesting, exciting activities for the young

Are there also challenges to teaching?
y the simple answer is yes . y Every joy of teaching has a possible frustration related to it. y You may wish to make a positive difference in students' lives, but you may also have trouble reaching individuals. y A student seems not to learn much, or to be unmotivated, or unfriendly, or whatever.

y you might accidentally discourage a student by

implying that the student can never learn enough
y The complexity of designing and implementing

instruction can sometimes seem overwhelming, instead of satisfying.
y Unexpected events in your classroom can become

chaos rather than an attractive novelty.

Teaching is different from in the past
y In the past decade or two teaching has changed

y Changes have affected both the opportunities

and the challenges of teaching, as well as the attitudes, knowledge, and skills needed to prepare for a teaching career.

y increased diversity: there are more differences

among students than there used to be. Diversity has made teaching more fulfilling as a career, but also made more challenging in certain respects.
y increased instructional technology: classrooms,

schools, and students use computers more often today than in the past for research, writing, communicating, and keeping records. Technology has created new ways for students to learn and also altered how teachers can teach most effectively, and even raised issues about what constitutes true teaching and learning.

y greater accountability in education: both the public and educators themselves pay more attention than in the past to how to assess (or provide evidence for) learning and good quality teaching. The attention has increased the importance of education to the public (a good thing) and improved education for some students. But it has also created new constraints on what teachers teach and what students learn. y increased professionalism of teachers: Now more than ever, teachers are able to assess the quality of their own work as well as that of colleagues, and to take steps to improve it when necessary. Professionalism improves teaching, but by creating higher standards of practice it also creates greater worries about whether particular teachers and schools are good enough .

New trend 1: diversity in students
y Students have, of course, always been diverse.

Whether in the past or in the present day, students learn at unique paces, show unique personalities, and learn in their own ways.
y In recent decades, though, the forms and extent of

diversity have increased.

Language diversity
y Classroom teachers must learn to communicate with

students whose English language background is limited, at the same time that the students themselves are learning to use English more fluently (Pitt, 2005).

y Teachers must plan lessons and tasks that students

actually understand.

y At the same time teachers must also keep track of the

major learning goals of the curriculum.

Diversity of special educational needs
y Another factor making classroom increasingly diverse

has been the inclusion of students with disabilities into classrooms with non-disabled peers.

Lifelong learning
y Another recent change has been the broadening

simply of the age range of individuals who count as students . obvious differences in maturity between preschoolers and older children lead most teachers of the very young to use flexible, open-ended plans and teaching strategies, and to develop more personal or family-like relationships with their young students than typical with older students (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997).

y The

New trend 2: using technology to support learning
y For most teachers,

technology means using computers and the Internet as resources for teaching and learning.

y For a variety of reasons, however, technology has not

always been integrated into teachers practices very thoroughly (Haertel & Means, 2003).

y One reason is practical: in many societies and regions,

classrooms contain only one or two computers at most, and many schools have at best only limited access to the Internet.

y Even so, single-computer classrooms create new

possibilities and challenges for teachers (to present upcoming assignments or supplementary material to students, either one at a time or small groups).

y These changes move teachers away from simply

delivering information to students, and toward facilitating students own constructions of knowledge.

y But technology also brings some challenges, or even creates problems. It costs money to equip classrooms and schools fully and may therefore mean depriving students of other valuable resources, like additional staff or additional books and supplies. y In using the Internet, for example, students need help in sorting out trustworthy information or websites from the fluff , websites that are unreliable or even damaging (Seiter, 2005). Providing this help can sometimes be challenging even for experienced teachers. y And some educational activities simply do not lend themselves to computerized learning sports, for example, driver education, or choral practice.

y As a new teacher, therefore, you will need

not only to assess what technologies are possible in your particular classroom, but also what will actually be assisted by new technologies.

New trend 3: accountability in education
y In recent years, the public and its leaders have

increasingly expected teachers and students to be accountable for their work, meaning that schools and teachers are held responsible for implementing particular curricula and goals, and that students are held responsible for learning particular knowledge.

y Legal requirements for becoming and (sometimes) remaining certified as a teacher has been increased y Teachers need more subject-area and education-related courses than in the past y They must pass one or more examinations of knowledge of subject matter and teaching strategies y Public accountability has led to increased use of highstakes testing, which are tests taken by all students in a district or region that have important consequences for students' further education (success on them becomes an obvious concern for teachers).

New trend 4: increased professionalism of teachers
y The first three trends, have contributed to an increase

in professionalism of teachers.

y Becoming a new teacher now requires more

specialized work than in the past (increased requirements for certification and licensing).

y The increased requirements are partly a response to

tthe increasing diversity of students and increasing use of technology in classrooms.

Action research
y Greater professionalism has also been encouraged by initiatives from educators themselves to study and improve their own practice. y One way to do so, for example, is through action research (or teacher research), a form of investigation carried out by teachers about their own students or their own teaching. y Action research studies lead to concrete decisions that improve teaching and learning in particular educational contexts (Mertler, 2006; Stringer, 2004).

Steps in action research Project

Example 1: students¶ use of the Internet

Example 2: a teacher¶s helpfulness to ESL students
³Am I responding to my ESL students as fully and helpfully as to my English-speaking students, and why or why not?´ Classroom teacher (senior high level)²studying self; Possibly collaborating with other teachers or with ESL specialist. Videotaping of self interacting during class discussions; Journal diary by teacher of experiences with ESL vs other students; Interviews with teacher¶s ESL students Look for differences in type and amount of interactions with ESL vs. other students; Look for patterns in the differences; Try altering the patterns of interaction and observe the result.

Purpose of the research (as expressed ³In doing assignments, how by the teacher doing the research) successful are my students at finding high-quality, relevant information?´ Who is doing the study? Classroom teacher (elementary level) and school computer specialist teacher Assessing students¶ assignments; Observing students while they search the Internet. Interviewing students about their search experiences

How information is gathered and recorded

How information is analyzed

Look for obstacles and ³search tips´ expressed by several students; Look for common strengths and problems with research cited on assignments.

How information is reported and communicated

Write a brief report of results for fellow staff; Give a brief oral report to fellow staff about results

Write a summary of the results in teacher¶s journal diary; Share results with fellow staff; Share results with teacher¶s students.

How educational psychology can help
y The recent trends mean simply that you need to prepare for teaching differently than you might have in the past. y Educational psychology and its relation to teaching and learning can be one of your supports as you get started. y The text draws heavily on concepts, research and fundamental theories from educational psychology. But these are selected and framed around the problems, challenges, and satisfactions faced by teachers daily, and especially as faced by teachers new to the profession.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful