I came into teaching 12 years ago. Prior to that I worked as a personal assistant in insurance and shipping companies in England. Between business oriented work and becoming a teacher I had my family and became involved in playgroups and eventually ended up running one. One of the reasons I wanted to become a teacher was because when I saw how great teachers motivated and inspired my own children I wanted to become a part of that important group of people. It was, in fact, a privilege to eventually be given the responsibility of nurturing young minds when I received my B.Ed.
To optimise teaching and learning in the 21st Century I would say it still holds that we must always start from where the child is. My teaching style is to encourage active learning through a constructivist approach whereby students are able to make connections and apply their learning to their everyday lives. In today’s rapidly changing, technology rich world teachers must acknowledge the starting points that our students are coming from. Where does their confidence in learning come from? How can we entice them to become life long learners?
By respecting diverse learning styles so that all students are able to access the curriculum in a confident way, and by developing student’s strengths we are able to instil a love of learning. One of the ways that I do this is to take a theme, for instance, the ancient Egyptians, and then create a research based learning environment that links to report writing in literacy. The end result of this unit is a museum afternoon that parents and other students come to, where games and models have been made. Alarms, made in DT, are protecting the artefacts. Students are given the opportunity to present their work thus enhancing their speaking and listening skills. My teaching style is to create, a round learning experience by integrating links in and out of school.
When teaching new skills nothing is more important than giving prompt feedback. This could be feedback from the teacher or by peers. Students need to know what they have understood and not understood in order to help them focus. They also need to be able to discuss their ideas and outcomes. I have found that by using mind maps to initiate and/or close a topic can be one way to help students share their current knowledge. It can also allow the teacher to assess understanding and competence and recognise prior learning.
Establishing an environment where high expectations, both academically and socially, are the norm give the students an opportunity to aim high and develop a pride in all they do. Regular problem-solving opportunities encourage students to work together and lend themselves to building a strong community of thinkers.
Teaching always requires reflection. Have I reached the students today? Are they all engaged in active learning? Make connections between things they have already picked up outside of school and relate it to their learning experiences in the classroom and you will be giving them a voice for now and the future. Every child is unique and can only grow if given a place to develop their ideas and self-esteem.