Classroom Teaching Skills
Classroom Teaching Skills
Edited ByProf E C Wragg, E.C Wragg
Edition 1st Edition
First Published 1983
eBook Published 21 August 2006
Pub. location London
Pages 244 pages
eBook ISBN 9780203135983
Wragg, P. (Ed.), Wragg, E. (Ed.). (1983). Classroom Teaching Skills. London: Routledge, https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203135983
Reports on the research findings of the Teacher Education Project, analysing classroom case studies which looked at students as good and bad class managers, at students' very first encounters with classes and at their handling of classes.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
their local authority, teachers need considerable skill to select topics, activities and ways of working from the vast array of possibilities. Furthermore, since their pupils can also acquire only a tiny fraction of the knowledge and skills currently available to humanity, teachers must develop teaching strategies which not only transmit information, but encourage children to learn independently and as a member of a group. Although no committee would ever have composed Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, it is also unlikely that any individual could have sent a rocket to the moon. A great deal of human achievement will in future the result of teamwork.
learning for the next generation, as well as for adults who wish to continue their education. It was decided in the Teacher Education Project to study certain significant aspects of a number of skills dis-played by teachers, and to develop training materials which would reflect what was learned from observing experienced practitioners, as stimulate trainee and experienced teachers to analyse and deter-
of corporal of teacher behaviour of which they person- to disapprove. It is perhaps easier when seeking a definition of teaching skill to describe some of the characteristics of skilful
how to live harmoniously with one's fellows, attitudes or some other outcome thought to be desirable. A second quality could be that it is and this might include teachers, teacher trainers, inspectors, advisers and learners themselves. shall see in Chapter 4 that pupils can be shrewd in their
subject knowledge required by the new BEd degrees. Students often complained that teaching skills were neglected, and one National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) study by James and Choppin (1977) which polled 519 would-be teachers at the school level, found that they, as yet uncontaminated by a training course,
study by itself did not necessarily make students operational in the classroom, and secondly that when students analyse classroom proces- and work at their teaching skills, they become much more highly motivated to learn the kind of educational theory that informs practice. inductive approach based on students' own professional experiences
advisers, college and university lecturers, and their comments helped shape later and final drafts of materials. Natural Language
expertise and educational jargon. After some courses have been notorious for this, and one of the obligatory paper hoops through which BEd students in particular have traditionally had to jump, required an instant definition of such trigger terms as nomothetic, idiographic, norm-referenced, ethnographic, positivist or teleological.
Jacob Kounin and his associates from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. Kounin concentrated on, among other events, the teacher's reaction to pupil deviancy, and studied the clarity, fIrmness and roughness of what called 'desists', that is teachers' attempts to terminate behaviour of which they disapproved. In a study of 49 teachers of grades 1 and 2 Kounin (1970) observed each for one whole day, and concentrated in his analysis of videotapes and transcripts on the techniques of group management each employed. coined a set of somewhat off-beat terms to describe various kinds of
The apportioning and management of time may be seen as a set of concentric circles (Figure 2.2 not to scale), the largest, circle A, would be 168 hours per week, that the total time available during seven days and nights. Inscribed within it, the next circle, B, would be quite small by comparison, only some 24 hours, being roughly the amount of
consistent disagreement on one particular category. Close inspection of the trial data did not reveal any such inconsistency. Agreement between observers high. In the pre-test they range
and 17 non-science students, and 20 of the sample were male and 14 female. The schools were commonly used teaching practice schools in city and county, and were regarded 'typical' of the spread of schools the area, in the judgement of tutors. first, second or third-year classes were watched.
themselves often reinforced the judgement of the observer, as will be seen in the section below, by saying 'there's too much noise' or 'don't bend the ruler like that'. That most of the deviance reported was irritating rather than alarm-ing, is shown by the high frequency of general noise, off-task gossip and minor jostling recorded, and the infrequency of damage, insult to teacher, or downright disobedience of a request or order. Physical aggression to other pupils was also rare, and there was no example of physical aggression to the teacher. The nearest to this occurred in only one confrontation: when a teacher asked a pupil to move to another seat, the pupil refused and the observer felt that physical violence by the pupil seemed likely until the teacher backed away. Unexpectedly, at this flashpoint the pupil did then move requested.
ByE.C. Wragg Student teachers usually begin their school experience or teaching practice part way through the school year. By the time they arrive routines have been established which, for better or worse, will persist through the school year.
they've got lots of pocket money for bills if they damage things' (business studies teacher, female). I out exercise books and textbooks calling them out to fetch their books so as to identify them further, and also to stress that I them the book and it is their responsibility
for home- work after the first lesson I tell them to cover books and look after them. I reinforce that the books are in their care (science teacher, male) This greater moral certainty which distinguished so clearly between experienced and beginning teachers came out very clearly when inter- "the rules say you shouldn't this" , (science teacher, male). 'Shout at them, particularly if I'm talking. It would be something short and sweet like, "shut up!" You need a mental sledgehammer' (science teacher, male). Student teachers on the other hand usually spoke of treating the
Almost all teachers said they made use of case law. Whether they announced or discussed rules, they would assume that pupils were likely to make inference from the way the teacher behaved in particular instances. It was common to hear statements like 'you have to make an example of someone early on' (maths teacher) or 'I stop the song if they aren't joining in' (music teacher). There was a sharp contrast between experienced teachers and students on the question of rules, especially, though not exclusively, in the case of PGCE students, many of whom were reluctant to specu-late and felt that an intuitive approach was better: 'I'd make up rules appropriate when 1 see them doing something
1 put myself in a learning situation, and they can see that 1 also make silly errors. (English teacher , male). 'I try to go on school hikes and camps. 1 get the kids away from the classroom. 1 always take my own kids along so that they [the pupils] see me in a different context' (science teacher, male).
of 313 lessons. of First Encounters of 313 lessons given by 41 of the
'weak' teacher by the end of his teaching practice, was described by the observer as 'injured caring': teacher spoke with a soft voice which he didn't raise at all. Phrases like 'pay attention' are said apologetically Teachers' Manner During First Lessons There were some quite notable differences in manner of the three groups as revealed by the summary of rating scales in Table 3.1. The five-point scales were based largely on what were regarded as import-ant characteristics in our own earlier studies, but were also influenced by the work of Ryans (1960) and others. Table 3.1. shows the means of the three groups, and in each case the higher the score the more positively the members of the group were rated on what character-istic or behaviour. The range of possible mean scores, therefore, is from 1, if all were given the lowest rating, to 5 if everyone were accorded the highest possible point on the scale. We have not given analysis of variance or gap-test values, preferring, because of the sample size, to consider the raw data to see similarities and differences. Rank order in parentheses.
A hurt note sometimes crept into his voice. He mostly remained standing, and walked up and down behind the desk at the front of the room. When he walked round the room he did not appear to convey any impres- sion that his walking was to much purpose. He made few gestures and could almost be described as overlookable.
frequency count of rule mention does not, of course, reveal much about the effectiveness or appropriateness of the rules themselves. Some experienced teachers established a rule such as that forbidding pupils' casual chatter when the teacher is talking during phases of public exposition, by stating it quite explicitly in the first seconds of their first lesson, punishing the first infraction moments
of soap powder do not hesitate to solicit the of the users of their product, relatively little educational research of teaching. The reasons are quite clear: of quality or even utility; others are
comments on teaching quicker and slower pupils and suggestions on questions and questioning to student teachers. teachers' responses to our questions provide the framework of
teacher intended someone else to answer the question and no one did, the question a question? A way out of this impasse might appear to be to consider the answers
teachers gave responses to these two items (the remaining 9 teachers had little or no experience of working with students and so could not reply). Most of the teachers gave more than one example of the types of error made and of the sort of advice/help they would give. Table 5.7 shows the number of teachers who men-tioned the different types
advice. The advice offered tended to reflect the kinds of error which these teachers described, although several teachers (10) did give advice of a more general nature such as, 'talk to them and try to get them to realise for themselves their mistakes' and 'Discuss better techniques and ideas. Watch as wide a range of teachers as possible'.
other researchers we found that the questions asked tended to be pre-dominantly factual or require only simple deductions or descriptions. This not a criticism of teachers, least of all of the teachers in our sample, so much as a comment on existing curricula. Factual questions and simple descriptions are the main ingredient of the school curricu-lum. Even in enquiry-based approaches, factual and simple thought questions should not be neglected. But changes in the curriculum and in training in questioning are necessary if teachers are expected to use more thought, empathic and open questions. There appear to be some differences in types of questions asked across the curriculum and across classes of differing abilities. High-and low-ability groups seem to receive more thought questions than middle or mixed-ability groups. The examples of questions provided to quick learners contained more thought questions than the questions provided to slower pupils. This may be because some of the teachers were thinking of quicker and slower pupils in the same class. Motivation of slower pupils was an overriding concern of this sample of teachers. The most common errors of student teachers were, according to this group of teachers, the structuring of questions and handling pupils' answers. The advice given on these matters was essentially to plan and think before you question. To this we would add specific training in using questions and handling pupils' answers. We have ourselves deve-loped a 3-hour workshop on questioning which is designed to help student teachers improve their questioning and responding to pupil answers. the study of sequences of questions we have identified tentative
interesting to know what types of sequences of questions are in general used in classrooms in different subjects, how useful such sequences to be, and the implicit models of learning on which they are based. Finally, we should like to draw the attention of the reader to some of the complexities of studying questions. Classifying questions entails
EXPLAINING AND EXPLANATIONS G.A. Brown and S. Armstrong of explaining is a neglected area of research in teacher educa·
of the process of explanatory of explaining of explainees. of the problem and of the existing of the explainees. The goal of explaining is to
high level. Simple questions were asked, instructions were repeated, straightforward comments made. A certain amount of chat went on, and, if not excessive, probably played important part in keeping the group working together. of groups was frequently two. Many groups were allowed to
of leadership and res- of ideas and discussion between its members, of Galton, Simon and Croll (1980) give perhaps a useful pointer
used to accommodate to the prevailing circumstances rather than as a teaching device which uniquely develops certain skills. the picture of mixed-ability lessons is of largely undifferen-tiated work in a whole-class teaching mode, with group work rarely used effectively and usually pressed into service only as an organisational device. The cognitive level of verbal transactions during group work has been described as low; and the same would apply to those in whole-contexts too. This phenomenon is documented at length elsewhere
this latter subject that we now turn. During the case-study interviews, the nominated effective teachers were asked to describe the problems which they had with bright pupils and slow learners in their classes. The results, along with some reported solutions to these articulated problems, can be seen Figures 7.1
ANALYSING THE COGNITIVE DEMAND MADE BY CLASSROOM TASKS IN MIXED-ABILITY CLASSES T. Kerry Chapter 7 there was a description of the Teacher Education Project's
perspective: that of cognitive or developmental psychology. The most frequently cited work in stage theory of cognitive development is that of Piaget (1972). Piaget's work has been shown to have relevance to an understanding of children's learning in a variety of curriculum areas by a variety of subject specialists -in RE by Goldman (1964, 1966), in
should reflect as much as possible of the actual teaching demands then these two areas would be candidates for further development of the students' experience. area that could arouse some speculation is syllabus construc- tion (activity 9). One viewpoint might be that probationers record
These three studies of class management, fIrst encounters and pupils' the research described in other chapters, raise
Teacher Education Project, of students working with fellow students, teachers and tutors to analyse and modify what they do, comes into its own. students do more than one teaching practice they need to reflect back on, perhaps having documented them at the time, their
pupils are as knowledgeable and insightful about classroom processes as we suggest in Chapter 4, perhaps there should be much more discussion with them about teaching and learning. Although many schools now include 'study skills' as part of their curriculum, few raise with pupils the matters discussed when teachers themselves meet to talk about teaching. interviewed during the project about group
of the teachers who most