Building Community in the Classroom
Tim Tiegs, a Bachelor of Education instructor in Technological Studies, highlights the importance of various teaching methods, including inclusion and accessibility for all students, differentiated instruction, and parent-teacher relationships and interviews. In the following video, Tim demonstrates the importance of building community in the classroom. He does this by having each preservice teacher in the room go around and state the name of the person to their right, along with a teaching strength.
Direct Instruction on Importance
Within traditional literacy, written symbols communicate meaning, whereas body language can convey meaning through various channels such as facial expression, eye contact, posture, gesture, and appearance (Provenzo, Lipsky & Goodwin, 2011). In the following video, Tim introduces the importance of body language as a teacher. He does this by providing an example of how your body language can send both positive and negative messages during a parent-teacher interview. The universality of body language cues shows that literacy of nonverbal communication crosses cultural, geographic, and social class boundaries (Provenzo, Lipsky & Goodwin, 2011). According to Provenzo et al., (2011), “we must insist students become literate in reading body language so that they can successfully negotiate the vital channels of nonverbal communication, detecting deceptions and accurately conveying meanings that lead to both personal and professional success” (p. 135).
Direct Instruction on Parent Teacher Role Play
In the following video, Tim sets up an activity where students complete mock parent-teacher interviews. Preservice teachers have the opportunity to hold the role of both teacher and parent to experience all angles. According to Fung and Ma (2015), role-playing encourages student engagement, promotes active learning, and supports higher-order thinking skills. Moreover, role-play helps students learn to approach things from new angles. When students realize that their environment can influence their learning, “theory becomes reflective practice” (The New London Group, 1996, p. 87) because this awareness can guide them through navigating different situations.
Disabled Students’ Perspectives
A multiliteracies approach recognizes students as “agentive, resourceful and creative meaning-makers,” which is valuable for students of all abilities to take control of what and how they best receive and create knowledge (Hitt, 2012, p. 3). In this video, preservice teachers discuss the possibilities of using the perspective of students with disabilities to offer innovative knowledge to redesign inclusive spaces within schools and the community. This approach would allow students to take their own experiences with accessibility not only into the classroom but into their futures.
In this video, Tim discusses with his class around finding accommodations and modifications for any student to participate in any class. Without direct attention to disability and careful consideration of how individuals with learning difficulties acquire knowledge and learn, students will not be successful. Preservice teachers offer opinions on how different online simulators can be provided for students who cannot physically be in class or traditionally complete a task. According to Tim, there should be no reason for a child not to take a class. A more accessible multiliteracies pedagogy provides multiple and flexible options for all students, including those who may be constrained to particular modalities or have preferred learning styles (Hitt, 2012). The strategies and technologies we use as educators will assist these individuals. Moreover, it is essential to recognize the modality of these learners and use flexible and practical approaches to accommodate these differences, which is now more particularly attainable with technological advancements.
Student Wheelchair Accessibility
In the following video, Tim provides the group with a difficult scenario where a student who has paraplegia and uses a wheelchair wants to take grade 9 integrated technology. However, the department head does not believe this student can take the class because of his disability. It is up to this group of preservice teachers to argue why they think this student should be given the opportunity to take the class. According to Henderson (2004), “students’ strengths, what they can do, are the starting points for successful [literacy] learning. And in a world where we so often focus on deficits, a focus on strengths is not always that easy” (p. 11). While the idea of working from students’ strengths sounds positive in theory, it relies on teachers being able to “see” such strengths. Moreover, teachers need to be able to identify differences and to think positively about it, which is exactly what Tim’s discussion is meant to elicit within this group of preservice teachers.
Students’ Home Life Discussed in Parent Teacher Interview
Understanding the student’s home life provides a context for the student’s academic performance and classroom behavior. In the following video, Tim highlights the importance of understanding the home-life of a child, particularly for those students who may be at risk. Tim uses the term “parent away from home” to describe the role that teachers should be taking on.
What if in Parent Teacher Interviews
Parent and teachers’ belief in their students’ academic skills and potential is integral to student success. It is linked to students’ beliefs about their ability, attitude towards school, and academic achievement (Fiarman, 2016). Examining unconscious bias is imperative to improving educational outcomes. In the following video, a preservice teacher uses the term “what if” to describe how parents and teachers should put aside any preconceived biases towards previous teacher or school experiences.