How Do You Pronounce Pedagogy So You Sound Like A Professional Teacher?
And other embarrassing questions computer science teachers are too afraid to ask
When I was a new trainee computer science teacher I first saw the word pedagogy written down and I had absolutely no idea what it meant or how to pronounce it.
In lectures the word pedagogy was thrown around by my tutors but they said it so quickly I couldn’t process how to say it myself.
It seemed everybody else on the course already knew about this special word so I didn’t feel I could put my hand up and say “I’m sorry, what was that word you just used? Can you say it a bit slower and also… explain what it means please?”
Eventually I learnt what it means. Pedagogy: the techniques used in teaching.
But I still didn’t know how to pronounce it. I always avoided saying it in teacher company for fear of sounding stupid.
Surly I couldn’t be the only one who felt like this. Surely there were other teachers left floundering and feeling daft for not knowing how to say this magic teacher word.
Well thankfully I’ve since learnt what it means and how to say it.
So lets start…
How do you pronounce pedagogy?
Let’s break it down into 3 blocks.
Peda - pronounced in exactly the same way as the start of the word “pedal”, it’s just missing the “l” at the end
go - this is like the beginning bit of “gone” but not like “go”.
gy - gee-whizz this is getting complicated
Hmmm, looking at that, it isn’t easy at all.
If you are still confused (and reading that last section back I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest) here is a recording which should clarify things for you.
Have a few goes saying it out loud yourself somewhere private and before you know it, you’ll be shoe-horning your new word into conversations, even when there are no teachers present.
So hopefully you have now passed that hurdle. What are the other things trainee teachers, and in particular those who are learning how to teach computing, struggling with but are too afraid to ask.
What if they don’t like me?
This is a biggy and many trainee teachers worry about this.
Obviously, it is lovely if your students do like you but it’s not the be-all and end-all.
As long as you treat them with respect (even if they don’t return the same courtesy to you) then you're doing fine.
You will teach thousands of students so the chances are that some will just not like you. It could be because of where you put them in the seating plan when you first met them (well someone needs to be at the front) or something as obscure as they don’t like people who wear blue socks in winter.
It could be anything. After all these are young people finding their place in the word and that includes who they do and don’t like and sometimes there’s no logic to it.
But how do you deal with it when it does happen to you? Notice the word “when” not “if” as it happens to ALL teachers.
I think the 3 golden rules are…
Don’t take it personally no matter how hard this can be at the time. They don’t know you as anyone except the adult that is standing in front of them. They don’t know you outside of the school so have no idea who you really are. Just remember: THEY DON’T REALLY KNOW YOU, so don’t take it personally.
Be fair. You should demand good behaviour from your students and don’t let some students get away with things just to avoid a confrontation – but use your discretion. If you are consistently pleasant to them, polite and helpful, that counts far more than somebody who is always telling them off. Display good behaviour yourself. Over time they may still not like you but they will learn to respect you.
Be prepared. If you know a student has a particular issue with you then think through all those little things that could go wrong and envision your future self handling it well. Plan out how you might respond to some of these challenges and that way you’ll feel more in control and able to keep calm if the situation does arise.
We’re all human (your students included) and some days our tolerance levels are better than others and your student may be just having an off day. Remember golden rule number 1 – don’t take it personally, they don’t really know you.
How do I find time to plan interesting computing lessons?
This is a common problem not just for trainees but also veteran teachers. The demands on your time seems to be ever increasing. Your evenings and weekends can easily be eaten up with planning, marking and report writing.
This next point is very important so pay attention… YOU DON’T HAVE TO PLAN EVERY LESSON FROM SCRATCH.
There are many computing teacher resources out there that you can use, adapt and modify.
Obviously, I think my computing teacher resources are the best and would like you to check them out Teach Computing: How To Save Time With Fantastic Teaching Resources.
But there are other options out there.
You may find some lesson plans, PowerPoint presentations or worksheets in your own school that other teachers in your department have created that you can adapt
You can talk to teacher friends in other schools and check out their planning to get ideas
You can go to teaching resource sharing sites such as TES where there are loads of free and reasonably priced lessons
Nobody is expecting you to plan every lesson from the ground up. You need to find the best way to use your time and if that means taking an hour to soak in a bath on a weekday night after a particularly stressful day - then go for it.
Also, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that every computing lesson needs to be “fun”. Some topics are just boring!
In this case create lessons that allow students to have small wins to break up the lesson into chunks and keep them motivated and engaged.
Use quick questions to recap points or introduce the next section that everybody can have a go at answering such as voting on multiple choice, “2 truths and 1 lie” or “Best guesstimation”
Physical vote (involving something simple such as thumbs up or thumbs down or something with more movement such as move to one side of the room) to see their opinion on something or answer a multiple choice questions such as those outlined above
Discuss a statement or question in pairs or small groups before feeding back to the whole class
Play a quick game of Taboo, Pictionary or Bingo
Why aren’t my computer science students remembering the basics in programming?
I get it.
It is frustrating.
You’ve taught them how to use input, print and if statements but when they have to do a program putting it together on their own they stare blankly into space and then put their hand up saying “I don’t know what to do”.
As you silently grind your teeth down to stumps you notice that 5 other students have done exactly the same thing and are also waiting for you to tell them what to type in.
There are lots of reasons for this but by far the most common one is the students didn’t really grasp the basics before you moved onto more advanced techniques and have consequently lost confidence in their programming.
They don’t feel they know where to start with the program so their minds shut down and switch to default mode which is raising their hand and asking for help.
There are several things you can do when teaching programming:
Spend far longer than you think going over the basics to start with
Give them an entire page (10 or so individual problems) of just input and print programs to work through before you even try to start with anything else. Repetition is the key here. Going through 1 or 2 examples just won’t cut it for some students. Sure, a few clever clogs will get it after they have done it once but many students need several programs to help it really sink in.
Scaffold the programs so you are not showing them too much at once
If you want them to create a program with input, print, if statements and calculations then break it down and make sure they know how to do each of those sections individually before you move onto the next. Only once you are sure they understand the individual elements should you look at combining them together.
Use games and activities to help them see programs from different perspectives
You can use:
Paired programming - where pupils work in teams on a single computer and type one line each whilst the other gives feedback and looks for errors. Make sure they swap roles regularly (after each line, subprogram etc) so they both get a chance to be in each role.
Type what they say – This is where you give the class a problem and they tell you what to type in. You need to type in EXACTLY WHAT THEY TELL YOU without giving them any feedback. For instance, if they don’t tell you to hit return then carry on typing at the end of the previous line. Miss out speech marks, brackets and anything else they don’t explicitly tell you to type in. They will either spot it straight away and tell you how to correct it or if you get to the end of the program, run it and get them to tell you how to fix it.
For more ideas about how you can use activities and games to help embed programming you can read a post I wrote that gives you 10 Easy Ways To Play With Code When You Teach Computing
There are so many questions that computer science trainee teachers have and hopefully I’ve helped answer a few for you and put your worst fears to bed. At the very least I hope you feel confident in pronouncing the word pedagogy.
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