zondag 9 oktober 2011

Reflection on SimSchool

In my opinion SimSchool can be used as an eye opener. In the Netherlands there are many students that just finished high school and don't really know what they want to do. The ones that want to do 'something' with children, usually start with teacher training. Not all teacher training facilities start with internships in the first year, what leads to a lot of students in the second or even third year that teach for the first time and then realize it isn't as easy as it looks. During this process a lot of students drop out, because they realize they can't handle it or that they don't like it.
I think that SimSchool can be used to eliminate this problem, there comes a lot more to teaching than just being sweet and being good with children.
During the simulation you can see how easily children get distracted and that it takes a lot of work to provide a suitable activity for all of the pupils. Using this program instead of a real internships speeds up the process of realizing this. So this technological resource helps students of the teacher training. It also helps the teacher training facility itself, because they don't have to look for so many places for internships and they can concentrate their time on students that really want to become teachers.
I think it also helps matching learning activities with pupils characteristics. As I already said, different pupils have different learning styles, so they also want to learn in different ways. By using this simulation the teacher can try which activity suits best with which personality. Because the program goes six times faster then the real world, the teacher can try more activities then he could try in the real world. This also is an advantage on a simulation, so thumbs up for technology.
But there also are a couple of this I didn't like about SimSchool. As I said in the beginning of this reflection, I think that SimSchool is a good eye opener. By this statement I mean that it is a good program to support a lesson in teacher training, but that SimSchool alone isn't going to be enough. During teaching, the way you present an activity is just as important as the activity itself. In the simulation you haven't got any influence on how the activity is presented to the pupils. It also doesn't take into account if the pupils are in a good mood today, if it is almost weekend or the start of the week. All these elements are very important during teaching. Therefore I think that SimSchool is a nice activity to start a lesson, but that after using it for a while the professor has to teach about the environmental factors as well.
Another aspect that I realized wasn't during the lesson with Everly, but during a lesson with more pupils in the classroom. I wanted to connect the students individual needs to the activities. But when I was doing this, I realized that this was impossible in the real world, because there was a student taking a test, a student was playing a game and another student was leading an discussion. If this would happen in a real classroom, the pupils would distract each other, but in the simulation everyone was happy.
Therefore I stay with my statement, I think SimSchool is a good eye opener and can help students realize how difficult it is to control a classroom filled with children and see all of the different learning styles and activities. But in my opinion it can only be used for this context, otherwise it seem doesn't to take enough factors into account, such as presentation and environmental factors.

5 opmerkingen:

  1. I appreciate your observations and criticisms. We do have a model of the environment (which at this point in time only has the "teacher choice" of a task that persists and the impact of teacher talk). We have been thinking about student-to-student impacts which will expand that environment and will include some form of distractions, which might be the beginning for building a kind of "sensing" of those aspects in the environment by each student. (Students sense the task and talk now, so we could add more sensing aspects over time).

    On "presentation" I would like to understand more about how you feel the teacher-user might make that difference over and above the way a student perceives what they need to do and perceives what the teacher says. In other words what might be the dimensions of "presentation" by a teacher?


  2. nice blog, charlotte. I like your practical view on things and I can notice you have some experience with teaching. You mention a few interesting points when you make a link between the simulation and practice.

    I agree with you that this simulation can support teacher-education. it is a nice way to explore the possibilities of different teaching approaches and it gives students of teacher-schools an impression of how classroom management and teaching looks like.

    And I like you mention the "presentation" point. It is like the teacher with a certain attitude/way of teaching that keeps you captivated. I was wondering how you could place that factor in a simulation. Maybe the simulation has to give the opportunity to make a teacher-profile, to see how different teacher-characteristic influence teaching. I'm interested in your ideas about that.

  3. Hi Charlotte,
    Thanks for your reflection on simSchool from a teacher point of view! You mention some interesting things. I agree with you that simSchool can be used for specific tasks only and that teachers have to experience a real classroom to learn about teaching. But I also think that simSchool provides a nice and safe environment in which you can experiment with different aspects. And that is of course something that teachers are not always able to (or not allowed to) do in a real classroom.
    I am crious about your answer to David's question. I like Kim's suggestion. What do you think?

  4. Hey Charlotte,
    I really like your blog. I think it stands out since you have written it really from a teacher perspective.
    I agree with Kim about the presentation point since the effectiveness of a lesson also depends a lot upon the teacher characteristics I think. Today I just had a lesson about presentation-styles and they told me that in a presentation 60% is determined by the posture of the presentator, 25% by the way you use your voice and 15% by the content! So I would like to respond to Kim's suggestion to provide the opportunity to make a teacher-profile. I think this would be really good. In this way teachers would also have to do some 'self-reflection' about 'how do I stand in front of the group' and then in simSchool he or she can see how this influences learning

  5. @ David Gibson

    Hello David, by presentation I mean the way the teacher presents his content to the class. In SimSchool, you can only control the pedagogical activity. But as a teacher in person, you can make differences in the way you present content even when you use the same activity. The variation can be in the materials the teacher uses, or the intonation of the teacher’s voice. Different dimensions can be: intonation (of the voice), materials, interaction with students, and learning style of the teacher. The suggestion that Kim gave is a very good one, this was you can include the teacher personality as well. Because teachers also have a favorite learning style and usually they use this learning style for their teaching. So the pupils that have a common learning style as the teachers are lucky, they usually have a larger learning outcome then the other pupils. So I think that this already can help.

    Another suggestion can be that the teacher can really speak to the class (by the use of a microphone), this was the teacher can use different intonations in his comments to the pupils. But I don't know if this is possible, I'm not sure if technology is already that far...