Our PLG's (Professional Learning Group) focus this term is based on a book by Rich Allen. Green Light Classrooms: Teaching Techniques That Accelerate Learning. It's great to be involved in a professional development meeting where I can discuss best teaching practices with more experienced teachers. Meeting once a fortnight and discussing the chapters and points of the text. The best part being that I have things which I can contribute to the conversations, gaining confidence in the fact that despite me being new to the profession, I still have a lot to offer and am able to critically examine and reflect on my developing practice.
The teachers whom I meet with (colleagues from my practicum placement school) frankly discuss their strengths and weaknesses encouraging me to do the same. So far we have looked into how we need to step away from the lecture and whiteboard style teaching - which many of us already have - and adopt other strategies to gain attention, retain engagement, and enhance student learning. Sounds great doesn't it? However some of the ambiguities of it are that there is no best fit model, no prescription of what to teach how and when. What technique works one day for a class may not work the next. The point it to be receptive to the dynamics of the room, what we are trying to achieve and how to utilize the tools we have.
Recently I had a year 4/5 class who I needed to get together to brainstorm the persuasive writing task. I could tell that the energy was high and that the odds of them sitting still and engaging in a productive group discussion were low. I grabbed their attention with a 'hands on knees, hands on heads, touch your toes' type instruction, then said 'You've got 10 seconds, make some noise - go nuts' and boy did they, I did too! It was fun. I counted to ten, then called 'Silence'. Everyone stopped, sat, and the lesson began. I know that this example doesn't reflect exactly what the book is suggesting, but it's my way of describing how being aware of your learners needs enables better engagement.
I look forward to reading and discussing more of the green light classroom techniques and incorporating them to my teaching practices.