1st Edition

Effective Task Instruction in the First Year of School What Teachers and Children Do

    206 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    206 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    It is well recognised that classroom teaching is highly complex and that teachers must navigate and negotiate myriad interactions just within a lesson in order to manage the learning opportunities of their students. What is less well recognised is precisely how these interactions are managed in real time during actual classroom interactions. This book is designed as an original, close-up account of processes by which children learn to become school learners in their first year of school, unpacking some of the recognised complexity of busy classrooms to hone in on what teachers and children do and how learning takes place.

    Using the tools of conversation analysis, the authors unpack a range of pedagogical interactions between teachers and children during normal class, focusing on procedural instructions and the outcomes of instructed activities. By including transcripts of recordings of classes in schools located in diverse communities, it is possible to see which aspects of classroom interaction may be impacted by external factors, such as children’s language or cultural background, and which aspects are applicable regardless of such factors. The chapters examine teacher instructions and children’s behaviour during instructions and during task performance in whole-class and small-group interactions.

    Effective Task Instruction in the First Year of School brings forward a much-needed wealth of knowledge into how to teach children in the first year of schooling and beyond in a way that is accessible for practising teachers, student teachers as well as education researchers. 

    1.Introduction 2. The first year of school 3. Conversation Analysis in the classroom 4. Instructions for task – what teachers do 5. From instructions to task – what children do 6. From instructions to task – teacher-led small groups 7. Concluding thoughts.


    Ilana Mushin, Associate Professor, is a reader in linguistics at the University of Queensland. She has published widely on knowledge management in language use, including in early childhood education and Australian First Nations languages.

    Rod Gardner, Associate Professor is an honourary academic at the University of Queensland. He has published in a number of areas within conversation analysis, including in classroom interactions in a range of educational contexts.

    Claire Gourlay is a graduate of the University of Queensland linguistics program with a long-standing interest in young childrens’ use of language in school.

    "As a teacher it is all too easy to carry on with comfortable and familiar practices. This research explores the impact of our language and interactions with our students both positive and negative. The researchers examine the efficacy of teacher instructions in whole, small and individual situations and the impact on student understanding. I found myself questioning the strategies I use and whether they were truly meaningful and inclusive for ALL students. I would recommend this text for all educators both new to the profession and experienced."

    Sharon Grunwald, Queensland Prep Teacher

    "Mushin, Gardner and Gourlay navigate the contemporary context of teaching through providing rigorous academic analysis of real-life situations of everyday interactions between teachers and children, providing important insight into the multimodal language of effective pedagogy. The complexities of teaching and learning moments are explored with detailed attention through the method of conversation analysis, to demonstrate pedagogy as a social and interactional accomplishment through turn-by-turn interactions co-constructed by teachers and children in varying socio-economic situations. The chapters walk the reader through an introduction to the study and the usefulness of the method of conversation analysis in unpacking pedagogical interactions, before exploring in systematic detail the all-important how of teachers work, including how teachers structure instructions for future tasks in ways that consider each child’s ability, and the attentive performance of engaging in the completion of the task in small groups. As such, this book brings forward a much needed wealth of knowledge into how to teach children in the first year of schooling and beyond, in a way that is accessible for a student and practicing teacher audience."

    Associate Professor Amanda Bateman, Director Early Years Research Centre, University of Waikato, New Zealand