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Rachael Rassel

TE 815- Summer 2012


Asquith Boys
Assignment 2:
Teaching Experience
1. Your school for each question, write one paragraph describing your school
placement, and one paragraph comparing and contrasting with your previous
experience.
a. Describe the context of your assigned school e.g. type, enrolment
numbers and characteristics, location and community setting, staffing,
special features, strengths. Compare and contrast with a school you have
worked with in Michigan.
The context of Asquith Boys High School is much different than what I have
been exposed to in the past and has been a great experience thus far. The school has
students from year 7 through year 12 and is an all boys school. Like all Australian
schools the boys are expected to wear their school uniform everyday though it seems
that in at least every class someone has something missing form their uniform. The
school consist of 575 students and the staff is made up of about 52 teachers. The
surrounding area has an average social economic status, however most of the
students at the school have a lower social economic status and those who come from
a stronger social economic background come form homes that dont value education
leading to various issues in the school. Teachers in the building have explained to
me that this structure of students is a result to the school in surrounding areas. There
are many private schools as well as selective schools within in a close distant leaving
them to compete for students. With these schools accessible those who can afford the
schools and value education go to the private schools and those who are
academically able attend the specialty schools.
A major difference between Asquith Boys and the school I worked in last year
in Michigan is the gender separation. I have never been in an all boys school and
after experiencing an single gender environment I can see different behavioural
issues than what I have seen in Michigan co-ed schools. The dynamic of an all boys
school seems to be much more rowdy and has a lot more of a boys world where
boys are not trying to impress girls they seem to be a lot more outspoken, and
possibly more themselves. Another difference between the schools is the class size.
Though the schools have a similar number of students, the classes at Asquith have
about 5 or more less students than what I had in Michigan. The community setting
and the effect of school options is another characteristic of Asquith that is different
than my past environment. Though there are private schools in Michigan only a

selective number of parents choose to send their students to private school. I feel that
the social economic status of both schools are similar, however at my school last year
there were not a lot of surrounding schools close by in which students could choose
other schools to attend, therefore the Michigan school had a greater variety of
academic ability in comparison to Asquith. Also the social economic status of the
student at my Michigan school seems higher than that of Asquith, however I would
say the communities are similar. The students are just less divided among schools.

b. Describe one or the main class or group you have worked with e.g.
number, gender mix, special features. Compare and contrast with a class
you have worked with in Michigan.
One class I have been spending quite a bit of time with is a year 8 History
class known as 8B. Being an all boys school the class consist of all boys. Overall this
is an interesting class as it is one of the lowest achieving classes full of students with
various disabilities including, autism, dyslexia, ADHD as well as students who just
struggle. When watching the class it is interesting to watch the behaviour of the
boys. Some our loud and running around, while others sit and stare out the window
and some play on their phones and I-pods. When the class is in focus they can be
very interactive and seem to learn a lot but with the littlest distraction a whole lesson
can be destroyed. In one class period all it took was another teacher coming in to do
some measurements in the room. When working with the class the teacher has to be
ready for anything and wiling to adapt at any moment.
There are a few differences between this class and other classes I have worked
with in Michigan. The largest difference is the composition. The classes at Asquith
are composed of students with similar abilities. Because of this all of the students
with learning disabilities, behavior issues and any other academic struggles are all in
the same general education classes. This structure is much different than what I have
experienced in Michigan schools. Like all schools the schools I have been in had
students with the same issues seen at Asquith boys, however they are not all placed
in the same class. Instead they are distributed among the general education classes.
While there is always a higher achieving section than others the difference is not
quite as blatant. Another major difference is the class size. This class consist of 18
students, which is almost half the size of classes I have worked with in Michigan. A
final obvious difference is the gender mix. As I mentioned above being an all boy
school I have observed a slight variation in behavior than what I normally observe in
a co-ed classroom. The single gender environment leads to more joking and fooling
around eliminating the need to impress the opposite sex. One similarity I have
noticed between the class and classes in Michigan is the content. Studying the
medieval times is a similarity among the content between the two educational
systems. Overall this class is very different than any class I have been exposed to.

c. Teaching time. Observe how much time is spent on learning (compared


with non-academic events or tasks) and which subject areas receive the
most time. Comment on how you think this compares with your
experience in the US.
Teaching time and the amount of time spent on learning was one of the first
things that stood out to me when I arrived at Asquith Boys. The day consists of a 5
period school day, a 35 min roll call, 20min recess and a 30min lunch. The most
interesting thing I found about the boys school week was Wednesdays or sports
day. Every Wednesday the students only have 3 periods of classes and then 2
hours and 15 minutes of sports. During this sport time boys play a variety of
different school sports. In relation to academic subjects being in the English
department I might be biased but it seems like there is a large emphasis on English,
focusing specifically on literacy. Aside from other academic classes there is a
significant amount of attention on TAFT training including cooking, construction,
and baristas and other programs that help prepare low achieving students to be
successful in the work world.
In comparison to my experience in the US it seems as though less time is
spent learning at Asquith Boys than in other schools I have experienced. I make this
observation on the fact that in all my experiences in high school there has not been
any recess time allotted. Also half of the day on Wednesdays is spent on school sport
where as in the US school sports take place after school thus not taking up any
academic time. As far as the areas of focus, I have found them to be quite similar to
that in the US. Though I have mostly been exposed to English and History it seems
as though English, Math, History and Science all seem to be areas of core study
similar to the US. At Asquith there is also a greater focus and acceptance of TAFT
classes. I have found that in many US schools these type of prepare for work classes
are being cut due to budget issues.
d. Staff discussions. Comment on the educational issues which staff at
your assigned school appear to be interested in. In your view are these
issues similar or quite different from those which interest teachers in
the US?
The issues that are discussed among the teachers has been very enlightening, and
I have enjoyed being able to simply listen and take everything in. Though much of
the conversation is not directly related to educational issues but more in relation to
students, their academic achievements as well as their personal issues. Though they
are not always specific issues they definitely relate to individual students
educational achievement. Some major issues include behavior, drug use and lack of
attendance amount certain students. The teachers spend a great amount of time

discussing behavioural issues of students. Most of the discussion is out of concern


for the students and what the cause of the behavioural issues may be.
On a more academic level teachers have been discussing how some students
whom have issues are the students who should not still be in school. Some teachers
will continue that having them stay in school simply distracts other students who
want to be there and is therefore unbeneficial for either party. These comments are
made in relation to the recently added requirement that students stay in school
through age 17. It seems that once a teacher makes the decision about a student they
no longer make an effort to engage them as much as they do with others. Another
issues discussed among the teachers has been HSC scores. During this week and the
next year 12s have been taking practice HSCs. After the completion of some of the
practice exams the teachers discussed how they assume certain students will score
on the exams. When discussing students score they were more likely stating that a
student will never score as well as they think, instead of saying positive things about
scoring. In addition to individual students the teachers also discuss different
teaching methods and lessons. A majority of the teachers all teach the same pieces of
literature and discuss and share their ideas to create consistency among the different
classes.
I do not have a great amount of experience with staff discussions among the
teachers in US schools, however from what I have heard and what little I have
experienced I would say that the educational issues discussed at Asquith are overall
similar to discussions had in the US. In both environments teachers are concerned
about students behavior in the classrooms as well as discuss lesson plans and share
ideas. Though the preparation for the ACT is discussed among teachers overall I
would say that the HSC is discussed much more among teachers here than they are
among US teachers. One major difference I found in terms of discussion is the topic
that students shouldnt be here anymore. I have never heard teachers say that
students shouldnt be in school any longer in the US. I think this is because in
Australia it seems to be more acceptable to leave school before receiving an HSC and
still be able to work and have a successful career, while in the US it is nearly
impossible to earn anything more than minimum wage without a high school
diploma. Overall I would say teacher discussions are similar when it comes to their
students and lessons, but vary in areas that are different among the two educational
systems and environments.
2. Describe a lesson that you observed that interested you (with permission of the
teacher) in terms of subject, length, aim, teaching strategies, resources used.
Comment on the positive qualities of this lesson. (2-4 paragraphs)
One of the lessons I observed was in an elective geography course. The course is
currently focusing on the geography of the United States making the lessons in the

course even more appealing to me seeing as it gives me an opportunity to observe


how other countries teach about the United States. The class is taught by Mr. Laing
and is composed of year 9 and year 10 boys. Being the beginning of the term the
class has just begun learning about different geographical features of the US as well
as label the states and capitols on a map of the country.
The lesson I focused on was a lesson introducing the climate of the country. The
lesson began with questioning. During the questioning Mr. Laing asked students
what they thought the weather would be like? He eventually got students to answer
that there is a wide variety of climates throughout the United States. With this
understanding he continued to question them on why that is the case. He asked
about the size and how the distance from the equator impacted different areas of the
country, he then had students compare the weather in certain areas of the US to
areas in Australia based on their absolute location. After about 15min of questioning
he gave and explained the activity for the day. The assignment was for students to
make climate graphs using a provided chart. The chart included five cities one from
each region of the United States, their average high and low temperatures per month
as well as their precipitation levels. After students completed the five graphs they
were instructed to locate them on the map and attach them in their correct location.
W instructions were given Mr. Laing worked his way around the room to answer
questions and help guide students in the right direction if they were distracted or
needed help. Though there were a few students who did not work very hard on the
assignment the majority of the class was able to finish in the remaining 35min of
class.
While observing this lesson I found there to be quite a few positive qualities. The
first involves the teaching technique of questioning. I think questioning is a great
teaching method that can be very beneficial when done in correctly. In this lesson it
was done in an effective manner and was able to actively engage the students.
While the beginning of this lesson could have been given in a lecture form, the
questioning got students thinking about what they already know. Another positive
aspect in this lesson was the way the time was used. The lesson was broken into two
parts, class questioning where attentiveness is required and individual work time,
which involved maps, graphs, and coloring. This was extremely beneficial for the
boys in the class and was a great way to keep the entire class period productive. The
final thing I found to be done very well was the content of the assignment. The
assignment was not only informative in terms of the climate of various regions, but
it also taught students how to create proper climate graphs, as well as gave them
practice reading maps to find the locations of the various cities. Though at first look
the lesson seems to be very simple and straightforward I found it to be a very
effective lesson.

3. Teaching. Describe the most beneficial experience you underwent in terms of


developing your own teaching. What did you learn and how? (2-4 paragraphs)
While being at Asquith Boys I have learned various things from not only the
teachers but the boys as well. I have been given the opportunity to observe a variety
of classes, abilities, grade levels and teaching. Out of all of my experiences thus far I
think the most beneficial experience in terms of developing my own teaching has
been my experience and exposure to 8B. As I mentioned earlier in this assignment 8B
is a low achieving year 8 history class currently focusing on medieval times. Unlike
in the US classes are composed of students with like abilities, so all of the higher
achieving students are in one class and the lower achieving and students with
learning and developmental issues are placed in one class. Observing as well as
working with these students in small groups have taught me a lot about how to
work with lower achieving students, students who dont care about school, students
with behavioural issues and students with diagnosed learning disabilities.
The greatest thing I learned from this class and Amy the teacher are various
techniques to use when dealing with a struggling class. The first is flexibility and the
importance of always having a back-up plan. With a group of students with various
issues and attention spans you can never know what will work or not work. While
watching a lesson students were clearly not following along with what she had
originally had planned, so without frustration or hesitation Amy switched activities
and instead of working as a class she gave them individual task. By having a back up
plan and being flexible she didnt waste class time with unproductively and was still
able to accomplish something in the class period.
Another aspect I have learned from working with this class has been the
importance of knowing your students. Different students respond to different things
and need various tools to be successful. When working in a class full of students
with high needs this becomes extremely apparent. I have been reminded form this
class that as a teacher I need to be able to make an assignment that can be beneficial
to various students. An example in 8B consists of using a blank picture of manor.
This activity has students, label, discuss, and color. All three of these activities give
students a way to show their understanding in whichever way is best for them
making sure that students are successful even if they are not strong in all areas of the
task.
An additional technique I have learned has been a way to interact with the
students in small groups. When students are off task the teacher goes to small
groups, individually explains the assignments and gets the small group on task.
Once the group is on task she will move to another group eventually getting the
whole group on task. I have never before thought of this method to get an entire
class to work however it was very effective and made for a successful lesson.

Though I have to admit I was very overwhelmed the first time I entered 8B I have
truly enjoyed the boys in the class and have learned so much working with them as
well as their teacher Amy.