Teachers as facilitators of learning need to take account of so many things for the transfer of learning to become effective. Teachers need to realize that they are chosen to be the bearer of light for millions of children. It is without implying directly that teachers need to be worthy of the place that they have to the lives of these children. “To be worthy” is rather vague for some people, but for teachers who put so much dedication in their craft clearly understand this. Upgrading credentials and translating these upgrades into actual classroom performance are never easy. Today society somehow molded the status placed upon the teachers; teachers are expected to be excellent in paper and in performance thus the amount of time and dedication they invest is truly extraordinary. Although investing in professional development courses, seminars and further studies doesn’t guarantee total growth and improvement for a teacher but these opportunities pave way for teachers to realize many things and reflect on their own teaching practices. How many of the teachers today still reflect on the kind of education they offer to their students? How many of these teachers realize the things that they are doing wrong inside their classrooms? How many teachers take advantage and reinforce the things that they are doing right inside their classrooms? Most importantly, how do they set example to others?
Education is not exclusive to your own classroom. Good educational practices need to be shared and the wrong ones can be considered as bases for improvement. If we continue to practice our profession without much reflection to our own practices then we are losing the true potentials of education. Let’s ask ourselves: What are the things that truly matter inside my classroom? Perhaps many of the teachers today will say that developing the cognitive abilities of their students matters the most–that their primary product is always what the students think they have mastered from a bulk of lessons they have taken for a particular period rather than what they have become as a person. Sadly, education today is mostly intended for sharpening of the mind instead of holistically developing a child and a run-of-the-mill classroom mostly has this set up. The danger of neglecting to build a solid foundation of good character can be seen later as it will surely manifest in the way students think about the world and how they deal with people.
Oftentimes, there are wrong practices that we are doing unconsciously. The following are the “too much” and the “too little” things that we need to consider.
Too much focus in the cognitive aspect
Teachers have long recognized the value of helping students develop their cognitive abilities but just like any other task it does not only involve the use of our brain.
Joseph who is a bright student excels too much in academics. He can easily get 100% to every examination but he is having a hard time to cope with group activities. Joseph lacks social skills. When teachers focus too much on mastery of the subject matter, the less students become involve as individuals. Make sure that you strike a balance in the learning you set for your students. In which way/s each student learns best? Am I developing my students as responsible and thinking individuals or am I just merely creating future professionals?
Too much attention to the teacher
When we create lessons, do we design the learning for our students?
Let students work. Give them a lot of opportunities in which they can hone their skills and be able to interact among themselves. Let them experience education that they deserve. Shift from the traditional way of teaching and disregard yourself as the only source of learning in the classroom. Students can learn from themselves and from people around them.
Carmina who was an eager student lost her motivation because she couldn’t find the value of education as applicable to her. Carmina became disengaged. When teachers design lessons that center around them, students will become disengaged and demotivated. Students need to realize the purpose of their education. They have to see it as a valuable means in which they can use in practical situations. As a teacher, what are the things that you consider in planning for a lesson?
Too much freedom
Creating a favorable class atmosphere means catering to the varied and unique needs of each student. Teachers need to provide as much support as possible to sustain each student’s interest. Freedom as applied in the educational setting means the teacher’s right to speak and to make decisions and actions as he/she sees fit. However, when we use too much of our freedom as teachers, we tend to be bias towards other people and to ourselves too. Too much freedom can be controlling and can cause students to lose motivation.
Ben likes to express his own taste whenever they do activities in their art class. Ben has his own ways of expressing his emotions through painting. When we direct students to the outcome we set for them, we aren’t encouraging them. Remember, each of your students is unique and has his/her own way of thinking. Each of these students differs in thoughts.
Having too much freedom also leads to the mismanagement of the classroom. Make sure that you and your students exercise freedom that is fair and realistic for everybody. As a teacher, how do you make sure that there is just enough freedom in your classroom?
Too little trust
Students need to be trusted. As much as we would like to create a learning direction for our students, but having too little trust to their strengths and contributions in the class can make learning uninteresting for them. Further, learning is not unidirectional.
Tina has innate leadership skills. Although Tina is an average student, she likes to take responsibilities and lead a group. However, the teacher doesn’t want to give her the chance for she is an average student. When we trust students, we lift their morale therefore encouraging them more to do their best. Trusting students can also be seen in many ways. We can trust their opinions, the extent of their knowledge, the level of their comprehension and their sense of responsibility. Trusting doesn’t also mean that we take everything as the absolute truth; it only means that we take importance to each student’s contribution in the class. As a teacher, how do you show trust to your students?
Too little diversity
Teachers need to consider the differences among his/her students. With regard to learning, it is a known idea that students learn in a variety of ways. Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences highlights categories in which students learn: verbal-linguistic intelligence, logical-mathematical intelligence, spatial-visual intelligence, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, musical intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence, naturalist intelligence, and existential intelligence. Classrooms comprise of students who learn in ways different from what we set for them. Encourage diversity in the classroom and highlight each student’s skills and potentials.
Jayson’s inclination is in music and the arts. He learns best when the lessons involve the music and the arts. Teachers need to be innovative enough to provide for the conditions in which each student learns best. As a teacher, how do you encourage diversity in your classroom?
Too little encouragement
In 1989 and 1995, Evans developed the encouragement model which reflects the belief that teachers need to acquire human relation skills to manage democratic and cooperative classrooms. According to him, encouragement is most useful when a concept of responsibility is based on involvement and cooperation rather than unquestionable obedience. This shift from the traditional ideologies started this educational reform. Having an “encouraging attitude” helps strengthen students’ motivation. Carlson, Sperry, & Dinkmeyer (1992) identified six practices for encouraging attitude:
- Make relationships a priority;
- Conduct respectful dialogue;
- Practice encouragement daily;
- Make decisions through shared involvement;
- Resolve conflicts and
- Have fun on a regular basis
Cherry has low self-esteem and she achieves less compared to all of her classmates. Teachers need to realize that they need to have a shift to their focus from perfect results to improvements. We don’t aim for students to always have perfect results rather we encourage them to exert more effort. As a teacher, how do you encourage students so that you can sustain their interest and help them become the best that they can be?
Feel free to share your own practices and walk us through to your experiences as a teacher!