Are all educators a student champion? Every child deserves a champion: an adult who never relinquishes them and understands the power of connections and insists that they become the best they can be. If you’re a teacher, you know no two students are the same and each person has a different style of learning. Therefore, the style of instruction of a teacher can have a major impact on the ability of a student to learn and understand. Students come to school with various values, beliefs, experiences, backgrounds and arrangements. All of these can have a major impact on learning, both in and out of school. The more resources a student has at their disposal, the better the opportunities for success, and the students need the following to optimize learning and experience success in school: Meanwhile, the teacher is the expert who is responsible for passing on knowledge through lectures or direct instruction to his or her students.
How does an educator take on each individual student’s monumental task of teaching, taking into account each student’s learning style, challenges and needs? It starts with:
1. Getting to know your students— find out what their concerns and interests are. Learn who you work with by doing interactive activities. You’ll learn more about your students and find out how comfortable they are with them.
2. Creating a safe learning atmosphere— Teachers need to create a nurturing and inclusive learning environment for students to understand that everyone is there to learn — and most importantly, it’s not a competition. Many teachers today use problem-based learning strategies that bring together student groups to work on projects as a team. This approach enables students to try out various roles and build on their strengths.
3. Being flexible and offering choice — Build on what you know about your students and their particular needs by appropriately tailoring your lesson plans. Build your teachings in choice and how you need to accomplish tasks. And provide multiple learning methods (for example, lectures combined with videos or discussion)
Most educational reform efforts focus on curriculum, instruction, and evaluation. This emphasis places responsibility on school administrators and teachers for student success. The student has received little attention— the consumer most affected by educational policy and practice. Educators need to find ways to provide all students with equitable educational opportunities. Let’s work collaboratively and collectively to ensure that poor students have access to the resources and supports that are the basis for great learning. We can build a nation of champions together! “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” -Nelson Mandela
Other Teaching Strategies
The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is one of the most popular teaching methods incorporating both student-centered learning and multiple intelligences. In order to engage each student, including those with special needs, a UDL approach presents material in multiple formats. Some students, for example, may be engaged in working on a writing project where others would be more engaged if they created a play or a movie. UDL uses the basic concepts of multiple intelligences to ensure that each student learns how best to fit their personality and style. In addition, UDL emphasizes inclusiveness and creating a culture of acceptance in the classroom where each student learns that they are a respected member of the community with strengths and gifts all of their own, no matter what limitations or challenges they may face. UDL is about teaching each student, including special needs students, creating community and building knowledge through multiple means in the general education classroom.
Blended learning is another strategy for teachers who seek flexibility in their curriculum. Blended learning relies heavily on technology, with part of the online instruction and part of the instruction taking place through a more traditional approach in the classroom. Traditionally teachers, for example, present information in the classroom to students and then go home to do their homework. The “flipped classroom” approach to blended learning does the opposite, allowing students to watch a video or read a chapter as an introduction to a concept as homework on their own. Class time is then used as their time to solve problems when they have the support to work through the concept or when they can have class discussions about what they have learned or read. What it boils down to is getting to know your students in your curriculum from the beginning and building flexibility and choice. It is vital to take the time to understand the learning style of each student and to develop teaching strategies for each student. What works with one group of students may not work with the next, which is why having an arsenal of strategies ready is important to you as an educator. You need flexibility and you need to learn how to adjust as you go.