Tomlinson (1995: 9) defines teaching as “an activity designed to promote learning”. Defining teaching by reference to its purpose. The target is complicated in itself. It is complicated because the teacher will be doing a lot at once with a lot of people.
It is a skill in the sense that capability may differ from one teacher to another: some teachers are consistently outstanding at it, others less so, though these degrees of capability may be limited, for example to certain age-ranges, classes and topics, or combinations of these. In these basic respects, then teaching may be considered a skill. It is open because there are many possible ways of responding to similar sets of circumstances.
Teaching is the activity that promotes action and experience whereby learners gain capacities and tendencies. (Tomlinson, 1995) Capacities: concepts, knowledge/understanding and skills. Tendencies: attitudes, values and ways of behaving.
Teachers should be aware that learning is essentially a different process for every individual. Each individual learner must be considered not simply under a label (a 10-years old or teenager, intermediate or advance) but as an individual with their own experience- base, cultural background, style, feelings and so on. (Malderez and Bodczky, 1999: 12). Teachers get to deal with each individual as an icon.
There are many models or theories about learning to be a teacher such as, ‘theory and practice’, reflective professional’, and theories about ‘implicit learning’.Task: what kinds of activities and situations have contributed to your understanding and expertise in teaching?
Malderez (1996)view theory and practice as ‘integral parts of the same skill in a continuous dynamic inter-relationship. Theory in this sense is described as the personal constructed theories of the individual. (Malderez and Bodczky, 1999: 14). From this view to teachers’ learning, Malderez described the teachers as in terms of the ‘modified iceberg’.
The visible tip of the iceberg is the teacher’s subject knowledge and professional behavior. These will be influenced by the ‘air’, the culture of the whole school and more specifically the classroom in which the teacher works. The mass below the surface will be influenced by the surrounding ‘sea’ of the culture and society in which the teacher lives.
Immediately below the surface are the processes the teacher goes through before going into the classroom, those involved with decision-making, lesson planning and so on. These decisions draw on constructs of the subject, the pupils themselves and a body of knowledge that covers a range of possible courses of action for the classroom and the wider professional world.
These knowledge constructs are embedded in deeper understandings about people, learning and teaching, which themselves have been influenced by even more fundamental beliefs, attitudes, feelings and experiences.
The two-way arrows indicate that this is not a one-way process: the influences flow in both directions. These may be set in motion by something that happens in the visible part of the iceberg.
As the teacher reviews what happened there, they will begin drawing from the layers below, considering possible interpretations, other choices that could have been made, and the influences from the deeper levels on what happened. This process may reveal a need to discover more: more evidence, more perspectives from others’ knowledge-bases and so on; in other words, to learn from others’ icebergs.
In the planning, these new understandings, are, as it were, brought back to the surface and emerge as another visible bit of teacher behavior.
Chapters 9 & 10: Managing for success and Grouping students.
Malderez, A. & Bodoczky, C. 1999. Mentor Courses: a resource book for trainer-trainers. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.