UTILIZING BEST PRACTICES TO AID LEARNERS LEARN

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Several literature exist with respect to methods of teaching applicable in the educational sector. Learners are individually unique, they learn differently and reason in a varying fashion. This implies that learners do not learn the same way, it is thus incumbent on the teacher to identify appropriate means to ensure learners’ active participation and apt learning. No learning can be said to have taken place in the learner until there is a relatively permanent change in the learner’s behavior as a result of his or her experience. It is relatively permanent because learning does not necessarily take place as a result of impulse or stimulus, rather learning exist as a result of carefully arranged and sequentially logical encounters between the learners and the learning experiences which are in most cases planned. It suffice to add that various learning theories exist each explaining modes through which learners acquire their learning.

In the traditional school system, the teacher is seen as the one charged with the responsibilities of ensuring that learners learn. However, evolution in the educational sector spell out the need to deviate from this traditional approach and embrace the rather all inclusive best practice in the teaching and learning environment. Educators advocate the need for students to be actively involved in the learning process, in other words, the drift advocates the fact that learners should not be given all facts to work on, but rather be given the appropriate resources to enable them acquire their learning in the best modes possible.

In recent times, terms such as discovery learning, constructivism, team learning, team building, group works are readily identified as essential and best practices in the educational sector. Constructivism advocates the need for learners to discover their learning, becomes active key players in the learning process, take ownership of their learning amongst others. This approach to learning places the teacher as a facilitator rather than a custodian of knowledge. The teacher functions solely as a guide, a facilitator and encourages learners where necessary. The learners are given the opportunities to explore their environment, discover facts that are vital in their learning process and at intervals present detailed reports of their findings. This stage is essential to enable the teacher correct misconceptions, provide additional resources and identify students requiring diagnosis.

Diagnosis is a key concept in the teaching and learning enterprise. The teacher functions just as the way a doctor in the hospital functions. The teacher affords the learners the opportunities to interact with him or her, listens to the learners with rapt attention and provides individual recommendations. It should be added that the teacher should endeavor to interact from time to time with his or her learners, even when they feel timid, shy or afraid of approaching him or her. The teacher is thus advised to be welcoming and accommodating. In most cases, for most developing countries, the teacher is confronted with a massive population, where-in the ideal recommendation for teacher-students ratio are grossly not adhered to. This situation sees the teacher in a constant state of pressure. An inexperienced teacher might feel unproductive particularly if class control becomes practically impossible.

Clearly, the aforementioned situation is one which readily mar the efforts of the teacher. However, for most experienced teachers, they devise means and avenues to cater for this massive population bearing in mind the individual differences in these learners. Teachers are encouraged to utilize among other methods; students grouping, resource materials, raised platform, team teaching amongst others. It should be added that no single therapy can be said to be the best possible, teachers are thus advised to utilize approaches that are readily effective with respect to the peculiarities of their location, learners, school environment and other prevailing factors capable of impeding the success of the teacher’s task.

When the teacher utilize learners’ grouping, he or she should be meticulous enough to identify the stars and isolates in the classroom. Stars find it difficulty working with each other. They are most times engaged in unhealthy rivalry, which may mar the success of the teacher’s intention for the grouping. Hence, the teachers should be adequately familiar with the individual learners in the classroom, he should identify the high flyers, the introverts, the extroverts, the gifted, the bullies amongst others readily present in the classroom. The classroom is usually a heterogeneous combination. Learners are not defined by a single feature. Once the teacher identifies this, he or she is already confronting the challenges in the classroom. Based on the peculiarities, the teacher should ensure that the learners are grouped without any form of bias while still ensuring that high flyers are readily available and present in each groups.

It should be added that teachers should be creative while grouping students. Group leaders should not in most cases be selected by the teacher, he or she should allow room for the opinions of the learners in each group while selecting their leaders, this develops the spirit of team work and team building in the learners. Often times, group leaders are allocated to high flyer or extroverts with the low performing learners and introverts relegated to the rear. Teachers are encouraged to avoid this practice, as this tend to demoralize learners of this categories, and often times, they see themselves as not being welcome in the group.

Teachers should be able to develop various domains of the learners. Sometimes, high-flyers are usually shy while taking leadership positions, they are either too scared of been in the public, or simply cannot create the time to be in charge, thus, they only act in the group as mercenaries, solution providers, problem solvers amongst others, leaving the group members in a relaxed and ever dependent mode of all is well, there is “a power house” in the team. When teachers notice this in a group, teachers should endeavor to find out why this is so. It may be that the high-flyer who in this case the engine room, may feel uncomfortable while taking up leadership roles, hence solely functioning as the engine room. The teacher should prescribe the “talking to” therapy for such a learner.

The talking to therapy simply means talking to as depicted in the words. Teachers should create room for engaging their learners in productive discussions. While discussing with these learners, teachers should present them with a conducive atmosphere wherein they are relaxed and comfortable without any fear of intimidation or shyness. When this is achieved, the teacher should ask salient questions as to public speaking, leadership roles, team work amongst others from such students, based on the feedback received, the teacher can either continue with the talking to session or refer such learner to the school counselor where such exist.

HELPING LEARNERS LEARN

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Schooling is an important aspect of education. It transcends the old system of learning. It is a standardized arena aimed at impacting certain desired behaviors, norms, attitude, skills, knowledge amongst others in the learners. However, the authenticity of this form of learning becomes questionable, and one begins to wonder how relevant the end result of learning is.

Students no longer deem it necessary to attend schools, rather they engage themselves in other activities which appeal to their consciousness but which may nullify the credibility of the school system. Suffice to say, teachers who are seen as matured minds often contribute their quota unconsciously towards destabilizing students’ readiness to learn. Teachers often demoralize learners without knowing, this may be through verbal and/or non-verbal communication via body gestures, postures, voice tone amongst others. However, this may be intended or not intended, each having respective contributions towards hindering learners’ attitude towards learning.

It is suggested that teachers should at all times allow learners the opportunity to take charge of their learning. This the teacher does by assisting learners to learn. A teachers’ almost aim is the achievement of set objectives. The teacher as an experienced individual should utilize means towards aiding the learning process of the students. The psychological readiness, alertness and emotional state of students to a great deal influence their classroom participation. An emotionally unbalance learner though physically present in the classroom finds its difficulty comprehending the teacher’s lessons, hence, it is imperative for teachers to relate cordially with their learners. By doing so, the teacher-students relationship is strengthened and learners readily present their feelings which thus assist active learning and classroom encounter.

Similarly, teachers should always visualize their growing days in the school system. It is suggested that teachers grow alongside their students. It is obvious that teachers are older than their learners, however, no matter the age difference, the teacher should endeavor to see himself as a learner within the age range of his class. This affords the teacher the opportunity to easily relate with his learners, hence, their thinking revolve around a common theme. It thus makes learning fun and as such, learners share ideas almost immediately as it comes with their teachers since they see him as one of their peers. However, the teacher is an experienced and mature individual, thus, he utilizes their ideas in decision making process and the classroom environment becomes fully democratic, where ideas are presented, weighed and chosen based on their aptness.

Teachers should also create time to play. Various educators as well as psychologists support the use of plays in the classroom structure. Learners learn about their ever changing world through plays.  Learners find it fun and interesting when they have ample time to themselves. Teachers should not confine themselves to their offices, they should create sufficient time to relate and recreate with their learners. Games, activities and plays may prove productive in this regard. Some learners who are introverts during classroom activities become extroverts during play. This presents the teacher with the opportunity to identify the innate skills and talents resident in his learners. Hence, the teacher is able to channel his classroom teachings in such a way that it is all inclusive. Unconsciously, students learn as they play.

The school system should be structured in a way that there exist no “over-loads” on time-table. Time-tables should be flexible, this affords the teacher opportunities to adapt his teachings with respect to the classroom environment. Similarly, the students are well able to re-organize their cognitive functions and get prepared for their subsequent learning. Teachers should be familiar with individual learner’s disposition. The teacher should be able to read between the lines and utilize judiciously part of his time to cater for any unfamiliar or strange learner’s disposition or attitude. The teacher should not be so intimidated about content coverage that he neglects his learners. When teachers are obsessed with content coverage, in most cases, learners hardly learn. Teachers are thus encouraged to utilize various teaching methodology and stimulus variations that assist learners’ mental readiness and alertness.

Learners should at all times be involved in their learning process. Teachers should not center their teachings on the extroverts alone in their classroom. Extroverts tend to dominate classroom discussions, paving little or no avenue for introverts. The teacher should ensure that all learners learn effectively. Learners learn with variety of techniques, hence, it is essential that teachers are well skilled about various ways learners learn. Teachers should endeavor to utilize a variety of teaching methods to suit all learners in the classroom. He should engage the learners as many times as possible and ensure that each learner presents a report or a detail description of his contribution in the case of a group project.

The use of familiar items or apparatus should be employed by teachers. When examples are drawn from the schools’ host communities, it becomes easy for learners to connect with such knowledge. Where need be, the learner gets similar items and utilize such in individualized discovery learning. Often, learners tend to explore facts beyond what was made available to them during classroom interactions. Hence, teachers should always ensure that their class teachings are structured in a way that probes learners’ curiosity to learn and discover new knowledge. However, it is advised that when such discoveries may prove threatening, teachers should endeavor to ensure that the learners are guided to avoid encountering injuries, or any other unplanned outcomes.

Similarly, learners should not be indoctrinated in such a way as to become fully attached to a particular instructor, facilitator or teacher. It is advised that learners be prepared with an open mind concept, where in they are able to attach passionately to the subject matter and not base their likeness on the subject teacher(s). However, one should not under play the role of the teacher’s personality on the subject. Some learners attribute their successes in some subjects to their respective teacher(s). Hence, teachers are encouraged to always present a positive disposition to their subject as well as their learners, by so doing, learners are able to eagerly anticipate how best they learn, specify the condition for apt learning and above all engage in productive discovery learning.