Assistant teacher course/Psychology and metacognition

Segregation Edit

Activity: lecture, group work
Group size: unlimited
Preparation: none
Instructors: 1
Duration: ?

An assistant teacher program at a school employs the office of assistant teacher as learning motivation for all pupils but a side-effect can be a motivation for segregation. Assistant teachers could, for instance, be called strivers by some of their peers and assistant teachers might feel superior to their peers for no better reason than their office. Bad reasons for segregation exist on both sides. The assistant teachers, as pedagogues and causers, could see it as their obligation to lessen the problem.

An effect of a successful assistant teacher effort should be that the assistant teachers are positive role models, not artificial negative role models (e.g. strivers) and that the assistant teachers understand the responsibility of their office and feel no need to appear superior due to their office. The positive role model of the assistant teacher is meant to displace the abundance of insufficient or negative role models pupils more usually provide to their peers.

Reasons for segregation

  • Assistant teachers are seen as wise guys or strivers.
  • An assistant teacher feels superior and appears condescending.
  • Assistant teachers form an elite group and segregate.
  • Pupils reject an assistant teacher meritocracy.

Can you imagine other reasons for segregation?

The office of assistant teacher can provide a motivation for dispute. This motivation can be used for the beneficial effect to teach dispute resolution and a constructive culture of criticism.

What can be done to counter the reasons for segregation?

  • What obligations do assistant teachers have?
  • What may pupils have to learn?
  • What are appropriate ways to explain a meritocracy and at the same time allow the pupils to overcome it?
  • What soft skills do assistant teachers need?

While the potential for segregation is an inevitable side-effect of an assistant teacher effort it exaggerates a segregation effect between good and less good pupils that may exist in a class anyway. The exaggerated effect can help pupils to devise counter-measures which may be beneficial beyond the exaggerated challenge.

Psychology of pupils Edit

Psychology of pupils
Activity: lecture, group work
Group size: unlimited
Preparation: none
Instructors: 1
Duration: ?

A possible psychological effect is that a pupil could view the exclusive attention of an assistant teacher (given to an especially bothersome pupil) as a desirable situation, even when sent to the back of the room for separation. This way a pupil would be guided to provoke the exclusive attention of an assistant teacher.

Assistant teachers need to find an intermediate position between making the attention of an assistant teacher sufficiently motivating but also sufficiently undesirable so pupils do not provoke the exclusive attention of an assistant teacher intentionally.

  • How can you make the attention of an assistant teacher sufficiently motivating?
  • How can you make the attention of an assistant teacher sufficiently undesirable?
  • How do you maintain the right balance?

If very proficient pupils are allowed to leave the class for assistant teacher duty, library work or advanced courses the effect on other pupils is likely to be beneficial. In terms of big-fish-little-pond effect and assimilation effect the less good pupils in a class can receive additional motivation through the occasional absence of more proficient peers but can receive at the same time the additional motivation of a higher level of proficiency in their social environment. The higher level of proficiency of the assistant teachers should not contribute to either effect because the assistant teachers aren't competitors for the attention of a teacher.

Assistant teachers should not compete with pupils for the attention of the teacher or solve exercises meant for pupils. If assistant teachers would contribute to a lesson like pupils they could intimidate the pupils, who might feel inferior.

  • What can an assistant teacher do, if solving exercises is inappropriate?
  • How can an assistant teacher address the teacher, if raising a hand may be inappropriate?
  • Should the assistant teacher address the teacher at all?

The answer to what an assistant teacher can do can be found in the test itself, because an assistant teacher can ask questions about an exercise. An instructor can help along by asking "What does this text do? What am I doing just now?" Raising a hand is, of course, not the problem; an assistant teacher just shouldn't waste the lecturer's time if that can be avoided.


Metacognition Edit

Activity: lecture, group work
Group size: unlimited
Preparation: test run
Instructors: 1
Duration: ?

The participants should previously have conducted a Sally-Anne test. Some questions in the course unit Segregation and other units already required a degree of metacognition; this unit aims to go further and to make the pupils think more abstractly about metacognition.

As teachers, assistant teachers should train metacognition. If assistant teachers work with much younger pupils they can be expected to understand the subject matter easily. This allows the assistant teachers to think about the intellectual feats and the understanding of their pupils.

  • How do you gain an overview of a pupil's knowledge?
  • How do you gain an insight into a pupil's understanding?
  • How do you gain an understanding for a pupil's intellectual capacity?
  • Can you test a pupil's self-management skills with respect to learning?


ToDo: The metacognition handouts should allow the participants to form two groups who both read one of the handouts and then let the other group solve the exercises of the handout, one group after the other.

An important observation is that understanding can refer to relations between knowledge that has been understood but which a pupil may not have deduced himself. The intellectual capacity includes the ability of a pupil to deduce previously unknown relations of knowledge himself.


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