4. Understanding students and their communities


4.2 Bring an enriched understanding of students to the classroom because of their particular sensibility to students’ diverse communities. They are alert to the spaces and places that students occupy so they can incorporate students’ personal geographies into learning sequences, drawing clear connections with students’ prior knowledge and identities from the local community and beyond.

Focus question:
  • Where are your students coming from?
  • What do you know of their home circumstances, workplaces, recreational spaces and roles as consumers and decision makers?
Further questions:
  • How do you find out about students’ personal geographies?
  • How might these be best communicated to you and other students?
  • What is the relevance of understanding and incorporating students’ personal geographies?
Samples of practice

(a) Backdrop:
In this pre-lesson interview sample the teacher explains how she uses the premiership win of the Geelong AFL team (she is a Geelong supporter) to look at the geography of sport and through this establish a link with the Victorian city of Geelong as a significant regional centre. How does the teacher show a sensibility to the students’ communities? What would you understand by the phrase ‘tapping in to the students’ interests’?

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(b) Backdrop:
In this sample the teacher uses the students’ personal experiences to establish links with the Victorian city of Geelong as a significant regional centre. How does the teacher show that questioning can draw out connections with students’ personal geographies and their prior knowledge?

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(c) Backdrop:
In this post-lesson interview sample the teacher describes how the students indicated to her, e.g. body language, that they were involved in the lesson - their first after the cyclone Nargis had devastated Southern Burma. In terms of this lesson how alert was the teacher to the students’ understanding of spatially distant events?

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Further links and resources
Description of the spaces and places occupied by students:
“Soja three kinds of overlapping and interacting space: physical, mental and social space. Firstly, the classroom is an arena for the production of space through the interaction of the physical and the social…but it also includes an imagining of space that extends beyond the concrete and the performed…Massey goes further to posit space as a mental construct: space that stretches from ‘the immensity of the global to the intimately tiny’ thus enabling students to embrace a ‘connectedness to the world’…”
Kriewaldt, J.& Hutchinson, N. (2009) Improving Understanding of Accomplished Teaching in School Geography Through and Examination of Learners’ Perspectives. Geographical Education 22: 30

See also:
Massey, D. (2005) For space. London: Sage
Soja, E. (1989) Postmodern Geographies: The reassertion of space in critical social theory. London: Verso Press
 
1. Knowing geography and geography curriculum
Accomplished geography teachers: 
2. Fostering geographical inquiry and fieldwork
Accomplished geography teachers:
3. Developing geographical thinking and communication
Accomplished geography teachers:
4. Understanding students and their communities
Accomplished geography teachers:
5. Establishing a safe, supportive and intellectually challenging learning environment

Accomplished geography teachers:


6. Understanding geography teaching – pedagogical practices
Accomplished geography teachers:
7. Planning, assessing and reporting

Accomplished geography teachers:


8. Progressing professional growth and development

Accomplished geography teachers:

9. Learning and working collegially

Accomplished geography teachers: