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My internships came to my rescue

This is a story about the daily reality of Ariane who, after four years of study, wakes up one morning in September, a 4th year teacher. After an incoherent, confusing and despairing first week, a past reality saves her life: her practical training! The purpose of this text, proposed by a retired UQO professor, is to help teachers remember basic techniques!

Automated English translation - (sometimes hilarious) mistakes can creep in! ;)

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After four years of study, Ariane is now a teacher in 4e year.

The following is a story submitted by Dr. Raoul Côté, retired professor of education at the Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO).

It tells the daily reality of Ariane who, after four years of study, wakes up one morning in September, a teacher in 4e year. After an incoherent, confusing and despairing first week, a past reality comes back to life, brings her back to earth, saves her life: her practical training!

From that moment on, Ariane will allow us to follow her on a daily basis, to be privileged witnesses of her pedagogical learning in the field. Thus, beginners will be able to acquire a set of skills that are largely indispensable to teaching and learning, while teachers already in the field will have the opportunity to reappropriate them. We will see how she discovers the power of preamblethe majesty of the board, the fence-the importance of a model of disciplinethe reality of the various attitudes in the classroom, the effective use of examplesthe fundamental principles of the communicationthe reinforcing agents that are the variation of the stimulithe art of the question, the presentation and when to use it and the infinite probabilities of the reinforcement.

Finally (and I have cherished this dream for a long time) I will be able to take advantage, to good effect, of the multitudes of techniques, models and theories that have adequately described the act of teaching. Nevertheless, I ask myself the essential question:

How can I make my teaching interesting enough to promote and optimize my students' learning?

I admit quite candidly that these are my internships that came to my rescue.  Trainees and teachers at all levels will be able to appropriate or will reclaim the set of skills and know-how essential to teaching and learning.

The preamble          

Ethat helps to create a receptive state of mind

After a month of teaching, I was convinced of the paramount importance of always presenting before my actual lesson, a short situation anticipatory or an element trigger that would be used to engage students

  • a curiosity,
  • a taste for knowledge,
  • instant attention,
  • a receptive state

through an object, a video, a word or an image that leaves feel something interesting and essential coming soon.

Example : A short video clip from The Weather Network in preparation for a lesson on "time versus temperature."

The fence                 

Rear view mirror to see how far you've come

During my internships, my instructor often emphasized the importance of the last five minutes of a lesson, during which I should take the opportunity to "look in the rear-view mirror. Today, this allows me to see how far I have come, to give me a privileged moment to judge the pedagogical value of my teaching and to evaluate the level of learning of the class. At the same time, the student takes the opportunity to evaluate his or her level of learning and satisfaction with what he or she was supposed to have learned.

Example - How would you summarize this lesson for a student who was absent?

The perception of attitudes            

They are formed and modified

As I get to know my 4e year, I have a clearer understanding of their personal attitudes which allows me to harmonize my own behaviors with those in the class. I always keep in mind that the training Attitudes in human beings are the result of their learning, social patterns, direct experiences with others and the current situation. The changes of these attitudes over the years depend on the personality traits, beliefs and values of each individual.

I realize that the more sensitive and attentive I become to the attitudes that are form and this change in class, the more I can spot and recognize the signs

  • attention,
  • of boredom,
  • of interest
  • commitment,
  • of understanding,

which are expressed by

  • the direction of the look,
  • facial expressions,
  • the bright eyes,
  • spontaneous reactions
  • the movement

The example                 

The abstract idea often requires concrete illustration

During my training, one of the criteria of a good teacher was the pedagogical trend to use examples and demonstrations to make the concepts clearer. Today I can confirm that this skill is an effective way to keep students interested and engaged.

This is why I quickly understood the importance and benefits of using two techniques to promote learning.

1. The deductive technique (most frequently used in class)

a. As a first step, I state the idea to be discovered. The concept of "heat

b. I continue with hot water, matches, sunlight, etc.

c. I open the debate to know the common denominator between at and b.

d. I ask the class to provide other principles of heat.

2. The inductive technique

This technique dictates that I use the characteristics municipalities between a cup of hot water, the July sun, etc., to get the class to form inferences or some generalizations which lead to the notion of " heat ".

I would like to add that it is sometimes advantageous to use

  • Lanalogy simple, like comparing "the human heart to a pump".
  • The metaphor which suggests similarities such as "he's a real turtle
  • Our non-example which allows to understand some complex ideas.

The discipline*                      

The key to success in teaching

The first time I was in the former teacher's classroom, I realized that she had either inadvertently or deliberately left out a poster of three colored circles. I have been told by other teachers that these three colors define her model of discipline modeled after traffic lights. Green, yellow and red being carriers of messages not only known to all but with consequences.

Looking at my course notes, I quickly realized that I needed to establish procedures to pave the way for a more efficient and effective model discipline staff. We needed to create an environment that would ensure that all students were on the same page.

For lack of knowing another model, I decided that for the time being, this one would work for me and that my mantra would be to strive for a specific goal, namely the accountability of the student through :

  • regulations expressed in observable and measurable expectations that are understood by all and that guarantee the student's right to live in a climate conducive to learning and my right to teach in an environment conducive to effective teaching;
  • choice which on the one hand are based on knowledge of relevant information and on the other hand are based on clear and precise information of a given situation;
  • consequences withdrawn or given based on a given behavior. They should be constructive and supportive while aiming to change a behavior. 

*Côté, R. 2002, SOS Discipline, Éditions Nouvelles, Montréal
*Charles, C.M. 2009, Discipline in the Classroom: Models, Doctrines, and Conduct. De Boeck Supérieur.

See the following models:
Dreikurs: Discipline without tears
Ginott: Teacher and Child
Glasser: Waste-free schools (Reality Therapy)
Kounin: Discipline and group management in the classroom.
Redl and Wattenberg: Mental hygiene in Teaching

Stimulus variation      

The provocation of the senses

My generation gave rise to the smart phone, the internet, the computer, the cell phone, and all the social media. They are all part of my students' daily lives. In order to mitigate these multiple distractions I use a variety of reinforcing agents (stimuli) that will, I hope, be, activate the senses students and influence their behaviors.

For example :

  • I sometimes choose to move physically towards a particular student. This allows me to reduce the psychological distance between myself and the student and to capture and maintain the student's attention.
  • My movements of head and hands are dominant reinforcing agents.
  • My laugh and my eyebrow game are effective tools.
  • My various shades of voice serve to arouse interest.
  • My breaks Intentional, my teaching methods, my interaction styles as well as the appeal to various sensory channels can also be used for teaching.


Listening twice as much as talking

Among the multitude of skills involved in the act of teaching, I often come up against the art of communicationr for the simple reason that it is all done with words, sounds, gestures, signs and behaviours that can either help or hinder my relationship with my class. In order to master the art of communication I must accept certain unavoidable characteristics in my students, namely that some :

  • must hear to learn,
  • are stimulated by writings,
  • favour the concepts and applications
  • fuel to the demonstration followed by the practice.

With this in mind, here are my various ways of communicating with my students.

  • To avoid boredom, I get as far away as possible from the note reading.
  • "Everything is said, it is in the way ". 
  • The word has an efficiency index of 7 % versus the tone of voice at 43 %.
  • I do not spare the smile, the look, the signs of the head.  
  • Our sense of humor, planned breaks and silences are of paramount importance in my classroom.

I strive to Good listen by adopting the following "mantras".

  • Once I have said what I want to say, I make a break intentional to listen to and evaluate that the student has understood.
  • During his answer, I avoid this annoying habit of cutting him off.
  • I refrain from anticipating the end of his thought to add what comes to my mind.

Note : I learned the importance of the feedback which allows me to assess the level of understanding of the class and adjust my communication style accordingly.

The lecture  

A hypnotism session without a healer.

 At the Grade 4 level, the lecture is a valuable tool if it is used to:

  • Transmit of information
  • Strengthen a written document
  • Synthesize data
  • Fill in the class on expected outcomes
  • Transmit a sacred fire for a given theme or subject.

Advantages of the lecture

  1. Constitutes a way quick presentation.
  2. Allows you to go to your own pace in terms of control and time allocation.

Disadvantages of the lecture

It is not appropriate if:

  1. The information must be kept for a long time;
  2. The matter is complex;
  3. Students' abilities are inappropriate.


Given the phenomenal amount of information in favor or against the use of lecture, I remind you of two thoughts of wisdom.

According to Mark Twain:

"notes taken by your students during a lecture end up in their notebooks without going through the brain "

Donald Bligh wrote:

"Lecturing represents a view of education where the teacher, who knows everythingtransmits knowledge to students who don't know anything and who are therefore not supposed to have nothing worth contributing ".

The reinforcement                 

The probability of repetition

I am an avid cyclist. I train year round for long distance competitions. I know that in order to maintain the effort required by my training program, I need to be able to feel and see improvement or progress in order to maintain my motivation. My students are aware of my passion and they follow and encourage me. I hope you don't mind if I tell you that I take advantage of this by intentionally using events or schemes that may to increase the likelihood that this or that behavior will be repeated in my students!

I am paraphrasing from the professor's lecture notes who explained to us very clearly the truth behind reinforcement as used in the classroom.

"First I tended to simplify it by thinking that reinforcement involved 'offering a treat' for good behavior and 'taking away a treat' for bad behavior. Clearly, I was confusing "consequences" with "reinforcement."

Positive versus negative reinforcement 

We talk about reinforcement positive when the probability of review the desired behavior is increased because of the addition a "reinforcer" such as stickers, positive feedback, responsibility, time off.

We talk about reinforcement negative when the probability of review the desired behavior is increased because of the withdrawal of an "aversive reinforcer". This may include removing activities such as "pushing back a deadline, removing a supervision, removing a poor evaluation, or stopping some personal criticism.

The question               

A good question makes the answer difficult

I was surprised to learn during my training, that between 35 % and 50 % of class time was spent on the question, or between 300 and 400 uses per day, despite the computer and modern technology. Now, in actual practice, I can corroborate these statistics; questioning has become a significant part of my teaching.

I'll share with you the other surprises I've retained that are of paramount importance.

  • When I ask a question to the whole class, I engage the attention of 1/3 of the students... Guess what the 2/3 do?
  • At the beginning of my first year as a teacher,
    • I left only one second to the student to give his answer  
    • after which I repeated the question or
    • I will modified or
    • I posed a different or
    • I designated another student to respond or
    • to make matters worse, I was answering to my own question.
    • Today I hope I have changed. Only my students know this AND my paired teacher.
  • In addition, I have become accustomed to taking into account the waiting time normally required (3 to 5 seconds) so that the student has the necessary time to formulate his or her answer and give it to us.

I am still constantly discovering the importance of planning my lessons with the type of questions I ask, namely form:

1. Convergent

  • Knowledge. Who stated the theory of relativity?
  • Comprehension. Summarize the last chapter of...
  • Application. Why learn mathematics?

2. Divergent

  • Analysis What other options do you see?
  • Synthesis What would happen if...?
  • Evaluation In your opinion, is there a better way to...?

The table                 

A helpful icon since the 19the century

I still remember the great board green that marked me from my first days at St. Gertrude's school. I was 6 years old. Today I have learned to tame it and to use it to my advantage. It has become a medium which is used to put forward information essential and develop ideas as the situation progresses. The fact that it can be stable or removable provides an easy to see and use surface for the student.

To support learning with the board, I follow some essential rules. For example, there is no idea how dividing the board into zones can help students follow better. Practically my board looks like this:

  1. The evolution of the content is at the environment,
  2. Reminders and definitions to left,
  3. Details and explanations added to right,
  4. My writings evolve from the left to the right,
  5. My writing starts from the top down.

I would like to add that my travel never obstruct the text that imitates as much as possible a lined book is in CAPITALS to be visible to all and that my voice door to the students behind the classroom.

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