Walter Geerts & René van Kralingen - The Teachers' Handbook

WalterGeertsandRenévanKralingen Teachers Handbook Secondary and vocational education


u i t g e v e r ij

c o u t i n h o

The Teachers’ Handbook

The Teachers’ Handbook Secondary and vocational education

Walter Geerts René van Kralingen

c u i t g e v e r ij

c o u t i n h o

bussum 2018 This book has a companion website. For each chapter there is a powerpoint presentation available.

© 2018 Uitgeverij Coutinho bv All rights reserved.

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ISBN 978 90 469 0621 7 NUR 840


We have been educating future teachers with lots of enthusiasm and enjoyment for many years. Inevitably we have also encountered some bottlenecks. We fre quently noticed, for instance, that newly educated teachers were able to cope well at the start of their career, but lacked the necessary tools to establish long term growth later on. We were struck by the realisation that, in order to ensure the teaching career remains satisfying and effective, it is of utmost importance for teachers to continue to develop beyond completion of their degree in education. This handbook meets the needs of future teachers who require tools to connect theory and practice throughout their studies, enabling them to create well-developed lessons. After all, it takes more than learning the ‘tricks of the trade’ to become a qualified teacher. As a new teacher you obviously need to learn how to establish specific routines and procedures. However, you should also be able to see the world from a different perspective and acknowledge your lack of knowledge or even your mistakes, for that matter. It is this realisation that enables you to develop new perspectives and new insights. Sometimes new in sights contradict previously acquired knowledge, but it is precisely these con frontations and dilemmas which offer learning potential. Ultimately, the neces sity of making deliberate choices sparks reconsideration and deepening of your own unique identity. This is the process which continues to intrigue us as educa tors and which keeps the teaching profession interesting. We would not have been able to write this handbook without valuable input from colleagues who allowed us to witness their students’ growth process. Their feedback resulted in an improved and longer second edition, which we believe is more readable and coherent. In the additional two chapters – Chapters 12 and 13 – we take an in-depth look at the specialisation in teaching in secondary voca tional education: VMBO and MBO. Undoubtedly, there is nothing more important than a good start. Our starting point was the publisher, Michel van de Graaf, who encouraged us to write this book. In The Teachers’ Handbook we have bundled our experiences. The video casts displayed on the Didiclass website were a major source of inspiration: they encouraged thoughtful involvement due to their authentic focus on day-to-day teaching life. We aim to provide a close picture of the classroom reality and hope to clarify common scenarios in the world of learning, the classroom, the school and education in general.

Walter Geerts & René van Kralingen January 2018




DEEL A How do I educate my students?


How do students learn?


1.1 A powerful learning environment motivates

34 34 35 35 38 40 44 45 46 47 47 48 48 50 51 52 56 59 62 66

1.1.1 How do you recognise a strong learning environment? 1.1.2 How can you achieve a strong learning environment? 1.1.3 Competence: making tasks transparent and motivating 1.1.4 Relationship: communicate and involve the whole class 1.1.5 Autonomy: making choices with Kolb and Gardner

1.2 What is learning?

1.2.1 Student Learning Activities

1.2.2 Aptitude levels

1.3 How the memory works

1.3.1 Sensory memory: the gatekeeper 1.3.2 Short-term memory: working memory 1.3.3 Short-term to long-term: repetition and coding 1.3.4 Long-term memory: knowledge storage

1.4 What do learning theories have to say?

1.4.1 Behaviourism and the benefits of conditioning 1.4.2 Cognitivism and the importance of metacognition 1.4.3 Cognitive behavioural theory and the importance of mental processes 1.4.4 Constructivist learning theory and key features of education

1.5 Reflection


How to prepare classes


2.1 Preparation formats

68 69 71 74

2.1.1 Scenario planning 2.1.2 The AAE model

2.1.3 The didactic analysis (DA) model

2.2 The default situation

78 79 82 85 85 86 87 89 89 90 95 97 98 99 99

2.2.1 A closer look at the students’ default situation 2.2.2 Determining the students’ default situation

2.3 Learning objectives

2.3.1 The use of learning objectives 2.3.2 Formulating learning objectives

2.3.3 Knowledge deficits

2.4 Adolescents in your classroom

2.4.1 Perception of adolescents 2.4.2 Adolescence: three stages 2.4.3 Imbalance in the teenage brain

2.4.4 Family influence 2.4.5 Conclusions

2.5 Differentiation

2.5.1 Terms explained

2.5.2 How to differentiate in your classroom

100 103 104

2.5.3 Limits of differentiation

2.6 Reflection


How to facilitate classroom learning


3.1 The stages of the educational process

106 106 107 108 109 109 109 109 110 110 111 111 112 112 112 113 114 114

3.1.1 Aligning the learning outcomes, activities and assessments

3.1.2 Education control loop 3.2 Direct instruction: a lesson model

3.2.1 Stage 1: Present objectives of the lesson and activate prior knowledge 3.2.3 Stage 3: Check if key concepts have been understood 3.2.4 Stage 4: Give instructions for student activities 3.2.2 Stage 2: Introduction or instruction

3.2.5 Stage 5: Practice under guidance 3.2.6 Stage 6: Practice independently

3.2.7 Stage 7: Reflect on key concepts and preview new topics

3.3 What constitutes an effective lesson?

3.3.1 The lesson is presented at the appropriate level 3.3.2 The student sees the usefulness of the material 3.3.3 The student is held individually accountable

3.3.4 The teacher outlines the structure of the lesson in progressive steps 3.3.5 Student learning and thinking are made visible

3.3.6 Feedback is immediate

3.4 Storytelling

115 115 116 116 117 119 120 123 126 127 128 129 130 130 131 132 135 136 136 137 140 142 143 144 146 149 150 150 151 152 152 153 153 154 155 155 156 157 158 158 141

3.4.1 Considerations

3.4.2 Structure

3.5 Asking questions

3.5.1 Instructional conversation

3.5.2 Group discussion

3.5.3 How can you ask questions effectively? 3.5.4 Asking questions at the intended cognitive level

3.6 Activities for collaborative learning

3.6.1 Check in pairs 3.6.2 Numbered heads 3.6.3 Think–pair–share

3.6.4 The three-step interview

3.6.5 Expert groups

3.7 Supporting larger projects

3.7.1 Three techniques to ask supportive questions 3.7.2 Interim presentation and evaluation

3.8 Various classroom activities

3.8.1 Energisers

3.8.2 Classroom Activities ABC

3.9 Reflection


How do I keep order?

4.1 Communication in order: Leary’s Rose

4.1.1 Desired relationships 4.1.2 Different behaviours

4.1.3 How do you bring it into practice?

4.2 The five skills of Kounin

4.3 Classroom management: Continuous signal

4.3.1 Importance

4.3.2 Good Preparation 4.3.3 Implementation 4.3.4 Transitional moments

4.3.5 Transition between activities

4.3.6 Changing focus

4.3.7 Student-controlled continuous signal

4.4 Classroom management: Alertness and the ripple effect

4.4.1 Importance

4.4.2 Names

4.4.3 A sign of leadership 4.4.4 In word and gesture 4.4.5 Student-driven alertness

4.5 Classroom management: Overlapping

158 159 160 162 163 164 164

4.5.1 Importance

4.5.2 The escalation stairway

4.5.3 Consequences of persistent unwanted behaviours

4.5.4 Student-controlled overlapping

4.6 Classroom management: Keeping the students’ attention

4.6.1 Importance

4.6.2 Magic 164 4.6.3 Keeping the group attentive during student-controlled situations 165 4.7 Classroom management: Student responsibility 166 4.7.1 Importance 166 4.7.2 Delegating 166 4.7.3 React responsively 167 4.7.4 Being strategically consistent 168 4.7.5 Responsibility in student-driven situations 169 4.8 Handling conflicts 170 4.8.1 Importance 171 4.8.2 Types of conflict 171 4.8.3 Conflict management styles 172 4.8.4 Which conflict management style is best? 173 4.8.5 Thomas-Kilmann test for teachers 174 4.8.6 Conflict management styles in practice 175 4.9 Reflection 176


Testing and assessment


5.1 The function of tests

178 178 178 180 181 181

5.1.1 Formative testing to adjust a learning process 5.1.2 Summative tests that focus on assessment

5.1.3 Peer assessment

5.2 Working towards goals

5.2.1 Goals and targets

5.2.2 Core targets and reference levels during the first years of secondary school 181 5.2.3 Final exams at secondary school: PTA, syllabi and inspection 183 5.2.4 MBO qualification file: OER, exam profiles and inspection 184 5.2.5 Teachers’ responsibility 188 5.3 Converting learning objectives to tests 188 5.3.1 How to make learning objectives concrete and measurable 188 5.3.2 Higher-order and lower-order learning objectives 190 5.3.3 Bloom’s taxonomy 191

5.4 Forms of assessments according to Miller’s pyramid 5.4.1 ‘Knows’ level and how to create open questions 5.4.2 ‘Knows how’ level and tips for case studies 5.4.3 ‘Shows how’ level and tips for transparency (e.g. a rubric)

193 194 195 197 199 203 203 204 206 208 210 210

5.4.4 ‘Does’ level and the use of triangulation

5.5 Assessment and grading

5.5.1 The value of a grade and the appearance of precision

5.5.2 Transparent, valid, reliable and usable

5.5.3 Determining pass levels of tests with open-ended or closed-ended questions

5.5.4 Analysing grades

5.5.5 Undesirable grade culture (with a focus on merely passing)

5.6 Reflection

DEEL B How can I work effectively with groups?


Group Processes


6.1 A pleasant group

214 214 215 216 217 217 217 217 218 218 219 220 220 221 221 222 222 224 227 227 228 230 233 234

6.1.1 Group norms 6.1.2 Group cohesion

6.1.3 Quadrants: group norms and cohesion 6.2 Individual needs of a student within a group

6.2.1 Safety by belonging

6.2.2 Influence

6.2.3 Personal contact

6.2.4 Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

6.3 Directing the group process

6.3.1 Forming 6.3.2 Storming 6.3.3 Norming 6.3.4 Performing 6.3.5 Adjourning

6.4 Mapping out group relationships

6.4.1 Learning to observe the individual student

6.4.2 Making a sociogram

6.5 Bullying

6.5.1 What is bullying?

6.5.2 The parties involved and their behaviour

6.5.3 What to do about bullying?

6.5.4 Cyberbullying

6.6 Reflection


Dealing with special needs students


7.1 The Act on Inclusive Education

236 236 237 241 242 243 243 245 247 248 249 251 252 255 259 261 261 265 267 269 270 271 274 274 275 277 278 279 282 282 284 285 288 288 290 293 294 295 296 273

7.1.1 Do homogeneous classes still exist? 7.1.2 Which students need special support? 7.1.3 Getting support from school 7.1.4 Special education: cluster schools 7.2.1 Planned approaches 7.2.2 Plans in all shapes and sizes 7.2.4 Work on executive functions 7.2.5 Fear of failure explained 7.2.3 Lessons and opportunities for every student

7.2 Appropriate teaching

7.3 Appropriate teaching for specific disorders

7.3.1 Students with ADHD 7.3.2 Students with autism 7.3.3 Students with dyslexia

7.4 Support from the school organisation 7.4.1 Student records, explained 7.4.2 No two schools are the same

7.4.3 Three-level care model 7.4.4 Care teams in MBO 7.4.5 Long-term learning

7.5 Reflection


Discourse at school

8.1 Discourse: a closer look

8.1.1 The structure of a discussion 8.1.2 The four levels of discourse 8.1.3 Shifting between discourse levels

8.2 Discourse interventions

8.2.1 The various kinds of discourse intervention

8.3 Types of discourse partners

8.3.1 Conversations with students 8.3.2 Conversations with colleagues 8.3.3 Conversations with parents

8.4 Three specific forms of discourse

8.4.1 Relaying bad news 8.4.2 Conflict resolution

8.4.3 Coaching

8.5 Students dealing with loss

8.5.1 Relating your personal experience

8.5.2 Mourning

8.5.3 ‘Wrong’ signals

298 299 300 302 306

8.5.4 What the school can do

8.5.5 When the student returns to school 8.5.6 Students dealing with divorce

8.6 Reflection

DEEL C What is my school like?


Secondary education and vocational education


9.1 Interpretation of school choices

310 311 311 312 313 314 315 316 319 320 323 324 325 326 326 327 327 328 328 329 329 331 332 333 335 335 337

9.1.1 Development of personal qualities

9.1.2 Social preparation

9.1.3 Preparing students for work 9.1.4 Working from a vision

9.2 Educational system: secondary education and MBO 9.2.1 Secondary education: lower and upper school

9.2.2 VMBO organisation

9.2.3 HAVO and VWO education

9.2.4 MBO education 9.2.5 Citizenship education 9.3 Different educational concepts

9.3.1 Natural learning schools 9.3.2 Personalised learning 9.3.3 Dalton schools 9.3.4 Jenaplan education 9.3.5 Montessori schools 9.3.6 Steiner-Waldorf education 9.3.7 Educational concepts at MBO

9.4 Special image schools

9.4.1 Examples of special image schools 9.4.2 Being a teacher at a special image school 9.5.1 Culture and degrees of collaboration 9.5.2 Culture and educational concepts 9.5.3 Culture and participation at schools 9.5.4 School structure: management forms

9.5 School culture and structure

9.5.5 Care structure at schools 338 9.5.6 Relationship between educational vision, concept and structure 340 9.6 Reflection 342


Intercultural classes, parents and neighbourhoods


10.1 Different cultures in education

344 345 347 349 350 351 351 351 353 355 355 356 358 358 360 361 361 363 364 366 370

10.1.1 Migration streams in the Netherlands

10.1.2 Socio-economic problems

10.2 Risks of image-building

10.2.1 Labels, categories, stereotypes and prejudices

10.2.2 Pygmalion effect

10.3 Intercultural communication 10.3.1 Mental programming

10.3.2 Communication models

10.4 The relationship between student, parents and teacher

10.4.1 The pedagogical triangle 10.4.2 Parenting styles and the family

10.4.3 Parental involvement 10.4.4 The neighbourhood 10.4.5 Civic education 10.5.1 Language development 10.5.2 Designing education

10.5 Opportunities in education

10.5.3 Leadership in an intercultural classroom 10.5.4 How the school can adapt to the target group

10.6 Reflection

DEEL D How do I develop my teaching skills


Becoming a good teacher


11.1 What will be expected of me as a teacher?

374 374 377 378 379 380 381 382 383 383 385 385 388

11.1.1 Your concerns

11.1.2 Contexts and roles within the profession 11.1.3 The Education Cooperative competencies

11.2 Being assertive and proactive

11.2.1 In the classroom 11.2.2 In the team 11.2.3 In the school

11.3 Empathy

11.3.1 Genuine encounter 11.4 Reflection as a learning tool

11.4.1 Self-reflection

11.4.2 The onion model and core reflection

11.4.3 Reframing 11.4.4 Feedback

392 392 395 398 399 403 405 407 408

11.4.5 Doing research

11.5 Balance in your work

11.5.1 Time management 11.5.2 Coping strategies 11.5.3 The portfolio

11.5.4 You cannot do everything

11.6 Reflection

DEEL E How do I teach in VMBO and MBO vocational education and training?


Preparatory secondary vocational education (VMBO)


12.1 What makes VMBO unique?

412 412 413 415 415 416 416 418 418 419 421 421 423 425 428 428 429 429 430 431 431 432 433 427

12.1.1 A closer look at the target group

12.1.2 Providing direction to learning and thought processes

12.1.3 Foundations that make learning possible

12.2 Effects of the practical approach on school

12.2.1 Types of education available

12.2.2 Vocational preparation or general education?

12.3 The influence of the pedagogical climate

12.3.1 Pedagogical climate inside the classroom and inside the school 12.3.2 Improvement of the pedagogical climate at the classroom and school levels

12.4 How does one motivate students?

12.4.1 Motivational theory

12.4.2 How to increase motivation

12.5 Reflection


Senior secondary vocational education and training (MBO)

13.1 The target group

13.1.1 Pupil or student? 13.1.2 The role of the parents 13.1.3 Part of the group

13.1.4 Safety at school

13.2 Guidance in lessons

13.2.1 Building blocks for a vision

13.2.2 Preparing students for practical lessons

13.2.3 Handling your own sessions

13.3 Work placement

434 434 435 436 437 437 437 438 439 440 441 443 443

13.3.1 Difference between BOL and BBL courses 13.3.2 Structure within work placements

13.3.3 Methodical work placement

13.3.4 Work placement coaching at a practical level

13.4 Coherence in MBO

13.4.1 Coherence in work placements

13.4.2 Coherence between practical and theoretical lessons 13.4.3 Coherence with general educational subjects

13.4.4 Coherence with career guidance

13.4.5 Coherence with tests

13.4.6 Practical: What does this mean for you?

13.5 Reflection








How to become a good teacher This handbook offers the basics required for becoming a successful teacher. A good teacher clearly matters! Becoming a good teacher is a wonderful and, at times, difficult task. Learning a ‘recipe for teaching’ by heart is not sufficient in the long run. Many different perspectives on how to prepare teachers optimally have sur faced over the years; some focus on solid theoretical concepts, others on practi cal experience. Bearing in mind that this handbook aims to satisfy the needs of future teachers, it is useful to start by exploring the backgrounds and achieve ments of these various approaches. On the job learning ‘You will learn that on the job’ or ‘It’s a hands-on learning process’, is often stated. However, it is questionable to what extent this is true. On average a secondary school teacher is in touch with about 120 to 150 students per day. Few manag ers are capable of managing so many people every day. Few entertainers can do a new show every hour for a highly critical audience, let alone six times a day on average. Yet for teachers this is daily practice, which makes teaching one of the most socially oriented professions. Teachers are responsible for the learning process of all these adolescents; their decisions determine what and how students actually learn. Decisions are made entirely by the teacher him/herself, without any involvement from assistants or colleagues. The classroom is his own domain and he* is in charge. This high level of autonomy means that, despite their social orientation, teachers hardly receive any feedback from superiors. An office employee receives frequent feedback from his boss or colleagues: ‘Nice work, that report of yours’ or ‘Well, I thought your presentation was some what chaotic and unprofessional’. Specific feedback on skills is essential for the learning process, also for future teachers. Research on performance levels of teachers who entered the job force with alternative qualifications (Verloop & Lowyck, 2009) indicates they only achieve desirable results under certain cir cumstances. They have a greater chance of success if their initial degree contains elements of theory as well as practical experience and they receive intensive coaching during their initial teaching stage. Simply joining the school workforce

* All references to persons or functions refer to both female and male persons.


TheTeachers’ Handbook

is not sufficient. Results from countries with a long-standing tendency to employ underqualified teachers are not very hopeful. It appears that after several years these unqualified teachers can mainly be found at lower-quality schools. Typical ly, they end up at schools with unfavourable conditions characterized by minimal personnel requirements (Ingersoll, 2005). Teaching credential So what does work? Attending a teacher training institution and earning a teach ing credential? Or first testing the water by jumping in at the deep end? Experi ence shows that the latter generally does not make a good teacher. Theoretical knowledge is essential but will not suffice. As a teacher you certainly need to possess superior knowledge compared to your students. In addition, you need the right tools to cope with differences among students and classes. However, theory only becomes meaningful when successfully put into practice. Accord ingly, the future teacher should search for an optimal way to combine theory and practice. In the end, what counts is not solely your acquired knowledge but also your ability to put it into practice. A theory can only be considered sound if it proves workable for you. Teachers’ personal qualities also play a key role since they mainly determine to what extent new insights, beliefs, ideals and competen cies eventually take shape in the classroom. The professional preparation offered by educational institutions assumes an important role by teaching students how to put generic knowledge into practice. Education and practical experience It is remarkable that teacher training institutions only really started to value prac tical experience towards the end of the 1990s. These days, it is common practice for student teachers to teach independently in the field for about fifty percent of the time in the final years of their studies. In order to ensure the practical side gets thoroughly explored, schools join forces to support projects like ‘training at school’. Currently, teacher training institutions as well as schools offering in ternships seek to collaborate. In another variety of training, students attending teacher training programmes do research, supervised by teacher researchers, for school development purposes. Teacher education and development requires both teacher training and field ex perience. If all goes according to plan, questions will arise from the field with re spect to designing test items, composing lesson plans and developing algorithms, etc. These tend to be important questions, which we believe should be more frequently tackled by teacher trainers in cooperation with their students. This requires curriculum adaptations: no predefined career education programmes should be in place but rather ‘electives’, which should be chosen by you as a fu ture teacher. Supervisors in the field should in turn approach their students more rigorously and send them to a teacher training institution with specific learning



goals. Colleagues who train future teachers at their own school are actually not educating the teachers for that particular school. They are educating teachers for all secondary education and senior secondary vocational education and training (VET, or MBO ) institutions. Hence, it should be a wide-scope approach beyond the schoolyard: the focus of the teaching profession in general demands a re search-oriented approach, a broad ranging interest, an eye for current develop ments as well as a vision of future developments. The next section will illustrate these developments while simultaneously providing direction for the structure and composition of this textbook. As authors, one of our main goals is to enable a new generation of teachers to practise the teaching profession by means of using a wide scope as opposed to adhering to a more or less random style or approach. People usually have very specific ideas concerning what constitutes the best way to teach students. Some teachers strongly prefer their students to develop new knowledge: they focus on this. They ensure a suitable education programme and the right treatment and they present the subject matter in an academic manner. Other teachers are strong advocates of group learning: especially the added value of interaction among stu dents constitutes the ideal teaching method, in their opinion. The latter perform their teaching duties from a strongly social and personally meaningful stance. They intentionally or unintentionally choose a specific form of education, which is again connected to specific learning theories. Obtaining knowledge of these theories does not guarantee a suitable, ready-to-use teaching model, but it does provide some kind of direction to the educational design process. The fact that individual teachers, even within teams, decide to make different choices in teaching practice means that they undermine each other’s approach. This holds for their lesson planning but even more so for their approach to teaching. Where, for instance, some teachers immediately penalise students who fail to do their homework, others let it go. Some teachers invest in their students’ development and build in time to talk to them, their parents and colleagues out side of the classroom. Others believe they are not responsible for their students’ upbringing and leave this to the parents themselves. We strongly believe that teachers should not act aimlessly and based on per sonal preferences. A consistent policy, jointly reinforced, ensures an unambigu ous approach to students while simultaneously ensuring its acceptance and im plementation. Reflecting on choices Many professionals are frequently asked to justify their approach, but generally speaking teachers are not used to this kind of question. In general there tends to Goals A wide scope


TheTeachers’ Handbook

be a positive effect on the quality of work if professionals are regularly expected to explain and justify what they do and why. Doctors, lawyers and legal advisers need to be able to explain to their clients in understandable language why they opt for a specific treatment or strategy. This reinforces their own commitment while simultaneously increasing the acceptance and cooperation of their patients or clients. However, in the educational field it hardly ever occurs that students ask why a teacher chooses, for example, group work over an in-class discussion. In other words, students rarely ask a teacher to justify educational choices. Nev ertheless, parents, colleagues and future teachers do have specific demands: they insist on knowing which options are available and why a certain approach was selected. In order to do so, a teacher needs to possess reflective skills. Metaphor ically speaking, you should be able to rewind the tape once in a while, describe what you see and explain why you acted in a certain way. Phrasing it as such suggests a teacher always acts consciously, which is cer tainly not the case. Research on teacher cognitions (Beijaard, Van Driel, Veld man, Verloop &Vermunt, 2014) indicates that practical knowledge, representing the teacher’s personal theory of teaching, is often unconscious and in any case instantly applied without specific explanations. Performance will be partly based on routines and partly on intuition which has not (yet) been made explicit or shared with others. The practical knowledge theories in this handbook are not imperative but serve rather as a means to develop your own unique teaching style. This will by no means be effortless. The same research on teacher cognitions showed that interactive cognitions are fairly malleable (teaching novices were taught by sea

soned teachers, e.g. by means of video footage, how to cope with students and what was cru cial in specific lesson scenarios). On the other hand, deeper cognitions – strongly connected to personal opinions and belief systems – ap peared not to be so easily influenced.  This second type of cognition is partly based on mental images adopted from teachers and formed during one’s own school period. Al though such types of dominant cognitions might be hard to analyse, there certainly is merit in dis cussing these kinds of beliefs and behaviours. As a result, teachers will ask things like: ‘Do I act in a certainway because I saw it done that way when I was younger?’ potentially followed by a question like ‘Does my behaviour, shaped by ingrained be liefs, actually match the school policy?’ or ‘Does my unconsciously shaped behaviour fit the needs of these students?’

When we learn how to drive, we first need to be able to control the vehicle it self. Once we have established this and it has become to a certain extent an automated process – e.g., shifting and steering should become routine behav iour – we can actually focus on the traf fic around us. Some teachers always explain a particu lar topic in the exact same way. They have become accustomed to this and are no longer able to adapt to their stu dents’ needs due to their own limited repertoire. These teachers invest neither in renewal of their instructional meth ods nor in their teaching strategies or testing procedures.



Stimulation of situational education The above leads us to the next important objective. In our view, successful teach ers should be open to analysing their own performance. This sounds obvious, but as a matter of fact it is not always the case. Teachers actually have a tendency to assume routine behaviour. Is this a bad thing? No, because it provides room for the teacher to focus on other processes in the classroom. In the field of education, using routines can certainly be an advantage, but there are also some drawbacks associated with routines: they can become habits, and ineffective or undesirable routines are hard to get rid of. This handbook emphasises the importance of different approaches with in a school or department’s code of conduct, in the sense that it offers choices about how we give instructions, assist students or do actual testing. In short, we are neither advocates of independent student learning nor, conversely, of teach er-centred lessons; we only point out the available options. Whatever you choose should fit the circumstances. In other words, you are teaching ‘situational educa tion’, in line, of course, with the school’s overall vision. Structure of this handbook Current education entails several developments that have a major impact on the teaching profession. We support the shift of focus back to the teacher being a key figure in the student’s learning environment. Moreover, we encourage increased attention to the added value of group learning processes at school. The govern ment is again actively involved in shaping education policy and teacher develop ment is again on the social agenda. These themes can be reduced to four funda mental questions for teachers:

Part A How do I educate my students?

Part B How do I work effectively with groups?

Part C What is my school like?

Part D How do I develop my teaching skills?

These four main questions coincide with parts A to D of this handbook (Chap ters 1 to 11) and will be elaborated next. The fifth part (Chapters 12 and 13) will discuss the specific features of VMBO 1 and MBO (or MBO) 2 for purposes of

1 VMBO stands for voorbereidend middelbaar beroepsonderwijs (preparatory secondary vocation al education). Covering four years of secondary school, from about age 12 to about 16, it prepares students for MBO (or VET). 2  MBO stands for middelbaar beroepsonderwijs (senior secondary vocational education and training). It prepares students for non-academic professions at five different levels.


TheTeachers’ Handbook

graduating in vocational programmes.These types of education are characterized by a target group with divergent ambitions and talents. Chapter 12 is therefore concerned with VMBO and discusses students’ motivational and learning abili ties. This knowledge is also valuable for MBO, which will be covered in Chapter 13. We will examine student support, internships and vocational tracks as well as the level of consistency between the school and the actual profession. Part E How do I teach in preparatory (VMBO) and secondary (MBO) voca tional education and training?

S o c i e t y

l e a r n i n g

g r o u p t e a c h e r S c h o o l a n d n e i g h b o ur h o o d

Figure 1 The relationship between education and society



PART A  How do I educate my students? This is a rather broad question in itself. Consequently, we will analyse several dif ferent aspects associated with this question. Focus on the teacher as a key figure in the learning environment Recent developments in the field of didactics show that the key role of teachers in their students’ learning environment is gaining importance. Marzano (2007) at tributes a central role to teachers in his meta-analysis of identified critical success factors of learning outcomes. Research by Hattie (2012) indicates that a teach er’s didactic approach in particular has a positive influence on student learning outcomes. Neuropsychologist Jelle Jolles (2006) regards the teacher as the only one to see the ‘whole picture’ as far as student capabilities are concerned. The teacher remains key in inspiring and motivating students. Hence, the conclusion is: restore the fundamental role of teachers. Invest in teachers Christopher Day (2010) mentioned at the annual conference, ‘Education Re search Days’, in June 2010 that educational innovations will only be successful with participation of motivated, involved teachers. For this reason it is of utmost importance that teachers feel at ease at their jobs; they should be appreciated and deserve to be invested in (teaching conferences, tenure tracks, refresher courses etc.). The Vereniging van Lerarenopleiders Nederland (VELON) 3 has specifically designed a knowledge base for teacher educators.

In The Teachers’ Handbook , new developments like these are being pursued by assigning the teacher a central role. The aim is to develop teachers who possess analytical and inquisitive attitudes towards their students, the teaching profession, as well as themselves.  In order to ensure that students learn some thing during their lessons, the initial chapter in this book is concerned with the students’ learn ing process. We’ll shed light on various streams of thought and different points of view. Next

Teaching can be compared to a theatre performance. As a member of the au dience you only see what happens on stage. However, once you are actively involved in the theatre production, you discover what it really entails; e.g. what happens backstage, what kind of ar rangements need to be made, who par ticipates, what rules and regulations are in place, etc.

we’ll have a look at how best to design the learning environment so as to facili tate the learning process. Chapter 2 zooms in on the topic of initial situations. In order to match students’ needs, we need to know their pre-existing knowledge, what learning process they have experienced and to what extent they can work methodically. In Chapter 3 we will review different teaching methods as well as

3  Vereniging van Lerarenopleiders is the Dutch Association for Teacher Educators in the Nether lands.


TheTeachers’ Handbook

the most common teacher-directed and student-directed methods and activities. Chapter 4 is concerned with challenges in regard tomaintaining classroomorder. We will discuss two analytical models and resulting recommendations for class room management. Finally, Chapter 5 elaborates on educational objectives, the volume of learning and lessons, and assessment. Both conceptual and practical guidelines are provided to administer valid tests and evaluations. PART B  How do I work effectively with groups? Teaching goes beyond reiterating lessons and that is why in Part B the scope is broadened. Both experience and research indicates that a successful teacher is able to connect with a group of students in a comfortable and intelligent manner. Research conducted byWim van de Grift (2010) at GroningenUniversity shows that 80-90% of schoolteachers in secondary education actually produce fairly well-organised lessons. However, it also demonstrates that clear and structured instruction by itself has only a limited effect on student performance. Van de Grift (2010) believes that a well-organised lesson accounts for only about 20 percent of the difference between learning outcomes. Most teachers do not even get to 20 percent, he argues. Fewer than 60 percent of teachers in secondary education manage to make their lessons more effective through the use of different teach ing methods to maximise student involvement. It is predominantly experienced teachers who are capable of involving students through the use of clever inter vention strategies (Van de Grift refers to providing clear instructions, involving all students, and teaching students how to study). These kinds of extraordinary teachers are able to cope with differences among students by providing improved explanations, creating a fruitful learning environment as well as implementing interactive teaching strategies. This stresses the importance of the question: how can you as a leader work effectively with groups? In Chapter 6 we discuss the impact of groups and group formation on the students themselves as well on the teacher who faces ever-changing groups. We also point out exceptional situations that arise in the classroom, for instance as a result of large differences among individual students: who makes up the class and how can we manage differences as a teacher? In ad dition, how do we handle bullying behaviour? Chapter 7 is devoted to special needs education. We examine which students need additional help and the role you can play to facilitate this as a teacher. Ad ditionally, we make the transition to a methodical approach. Which aspects re quire adaptations for every student to be able to follow your lessons? We provide suggestions for teaching strategies which are suitable for students with typical and distinct disorders. Finally, we examine the support provided by the school administration. Chapter 8 provides practical guidelines on how to conduct dis cussions with students. Several discussion techniques will be presented which can be used to create dialogue in order to work effectively with the group as a whole.



PART C  What is my school like? This part reviews the school as a work environment for the teacher. This work environment – contrary to many other types of workplace – is subject to many external forces, and all those forces want to have a say in the educational model. Amajor force is the parents. In general, your students’ parents tend to be more highly educated than in the past. The families in which they raise their children often consist of two or three children and a lot of value is attached to the well-be ing and prosperity of these children. Parents consider the school to be of critical importance in determining their children’s future career path and life in general. They acknowledge the fact that teachers are a critical success factor in this. How ever, this does not imply that parents will always – or ever – agree with the teach er’s approach. A fair number of parents want to control what teachers do. Another important force is society, and ‘society’ today contrasts sharply with society, say, forty years ago. We can illustrate this by using the following exam ples: ■■ Students often grow up in blended families these days. ■■ Students tend to be more assertive and prosperous. As a consequence, teach ers need to be more skilled to facilitate their learning. ■■ Modern society sometimes causes students to be extremely restless. Take, for instance, the ever-increasing use of internet and social media. Younger teach ers tend to accept this more easily than some teachers from older generations. ■■ Students seem to have less sense of discipline, though this is debatable. In ancient Greece, Aristotle also complained about the fact that youth lacked self-discipline. Nevertheless, this doesn’t rule out that for some students the only source of guidance that is provided is actually at school, by the teacher; he/she establishes rules and enforces them, which creates order and stability. Society is watching over the teacher’s shoulder. A third major force is the political environment. One recent development is the fact that teacher quality has been ‘rediscovered’ by politicians. Parliamentary re search in the Netherlands conducted by the ‘Dijsselbloem committee’ (2008) revealed that teachers have been systematically neglected by leaders, reformers and managers over the past few years. On the other hand, the government tends to make considerable policy changes in education with each change of adminis tration. This dual approach by the government is reflected in continuous involve ment in many different areas. For example, in recent years governmental insti tutions have kept a close eye on participants in secondary vocational education (VET) levels 1 and 2. The analysis attributes a key role to teachers in preventing and/or solving issues like school drop-out rates as well as rude and anti-social behaviour. In other words, teachers should assume a nurturing role while simul taneously offering their students job perspectives, certificates of completion, long-term internships or vocational training. Hence, students are often offered alternative courses of studies in order to keep growing and developing. At this


TheTeachers’ Handbook

point, the quality of the teacher is determined by his persistence in providing opportunities for students with learning difficulties. The government will continue to modify the school’s role, since it serves es sential purposes within our society: students should become active citizens and acquire basic skills needed to maintain a position in society as well as achieve qualifications to secure a job. All these forces can be considered a nuisance by the teacher. Clearly, how ever, no single teacher can freely teach the same old lessons for forty years. Nor would this be beneficial. The impact of various forces on the educational system induces changes, after all. These changes, in turn, offer teachers the opportuni ty to create their own routines. The teacher’s ability to make deliberate choices amidst all these forces is key. It is therefore important to be well-informed and to be able to communicate about new developments – whether desirable or not – as a fully-fledged participant. This part of the book provides an overview of the dif ferent types of schools and how they are organised. We describe the cooperation between teachers and the added value of teachers’ meetings. In Chapter 9 we take a closer look at the Dutch educational system. It is es sential as a teacher to know what type of school you are affiliated with and how this school is positioned in relation to other school types. This also enables you to judge whether a specific type of school and school culture are a good fit and to what extent you would be able to flourish there. In Chapter 10 we cover themes related to the student’s neighbourhood and home situation. We explain the type of task the school assigns itself in order to offer their students opportunities and how social workers cooperate with schools. This chapter also discusses challen ges which are associated with our modern multi-cultural society. PART D  How do I develop my teaching skills? The fourth part of this book focuses on the question of how you can develop your skills as a teacher. Many factors are of concern. Future teachers should expand their knowledge of various aspects of teaching. Professional knowledge is char acterized by three aspects: ■■ Subject : the actual content of the subject to be taught; ■■ Method : knowing about examination procedures, types of education, and learning objectives as well as didactic methods and models such as teaching forms, lesson planning and coaching strategies; ■■ Students : knowing about adolescents in general, and styles of upbringing and behavioural differences in particular. Apart from the fact that this helps us to explain behaviour, it also allows us to anticipate behaviour. Moreover, it facil itates strategic group formation, requesting support from the right people or coming up with appropriate assignments. It is important that this threefold knowledge about subject, method and students is either applied in the field of education or originates in the field. In other words,



knowledge should become meaningful in both an inductive and deductive way. This implies that particular experiences – after looking at them in the abstract – lead to general knowledge, which in turn can be applied on an individual level. Teachers need to possess a wide range of tools in order to be able to achieve this. In Chapter 11 we take a closer look at professional development, which tools exist and how they can be used effectively. We address topics like being as sertive, proactive and empathetic as well as time management and self-reflection skills. Self-reflection is gaining importance in the field of education. New teachers tend to have a hard time since what they have been taught appears to be difficult to put into practice. Many problems can be prevented or handled differently by focusing at an early career stage (while still in training or while being coached in the first years of teaching) on the question of what kind of teacher you aspire to be. Perception of your own professional identity is essential for your perfor mance (Rohaan, Beijaard & Vink, 2012). It is important to have a clear idea of what you want to put effort into, what is important to you and especially to have a positive attitude. This will ensure you remain a dedicated and motivated teacher and positively affect your student learning outcomes. This doesn’t solely entail complying with a long checklist of competencies; the knowledge and abilities required should also match your personal identity. Nowadays professional development also implies that teachers should acquire the desirable teacher competencies as prescribed by the Onderwijscoöperatie 4 . We will delve into these competencies and show how they translate into particular characteristics, skills and development potential of teachers. The teacher competencies also provide guidance for teachers to continue de veloping after completion of their studies. Different areas of development are available depending on the core competencies of individual teachers: ■■ Career oriented : You continue to advance in your career by keeping up-to date on new theories and findings. For instance, by visiting national teacher conferences and seminars, deepening your knowledge of new subjects or per spectives, publishing articles and considering further study to obtain a mas ter’s or PhD degree. The subject you teach interests you deeply. ■■ Didactically oriented : You prepare your lessons thoroughly, catering to all students’ needs. Your lessons are always original and exciting. You experi ment with active learning methods and occasionally apply suggestions from the field of neuropsychology. Didactic methods intrigue you. You constantly search for creative forms of knowledge transfer and enhancement of skills.

4 The Onderwijscoöperatie (Education Cooperative), formerly SBL, is an organisation that sup ports registration of teachers and teacher trainers and various efforts to encourage and support innovation in teaching.


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