How do YOU want to teach?

27 Apr

Being a teacher makes our core values become visible. All the small (and bigger) choices we make in the classroom talk about our beliefs of good learning and teaching: how we place our students, what kind of questions we ask, what is valued in our class, etc., and they all also contribute to our students’ perception of education. Improving learning and teaching becomes easier when we empower every teacher with the knowledge of choices. Please watch and share:

CHT video

Taking time to think HOW exactly YOU want to teach makes all your choices become more conscious. It is easier to choose wisely when you have better understanding about the consequences of your choices.  Walking the talk of making well-informed choices is important for everyone who wants to teach. Fortunately choosing is a skill that grows with use, just like language fluency.

The same principles apply to our students:  they need to have opportunities to practice choosing in an emotionally safe learning environment.   The first step is to make students aware that there is a choice. So, how exactly do we help our students to make wise choices? This thinking process led me to write the book:

Nina's book

My own belief, based on experiences, is that independent and autonomous students are also the most successful ones. I think this happens because they have so good control over their own learning processes, and also use several different learning strategies.  Guiding all students towards being self-sufficient and having more successful learning experiences can be done if we let go of some unnecessary control and start providing more choices in the daily classroom situations.

Please note that I am not talking about students running wild in the class. The best environment to improve learning and practice choosing is where we can allow students to make mistakes without penalties. This of course means having informal and non-punitive assessment and self-evaluation systems in place.  Student accountability is built on the foundation of their autonomy. How could you be accountable for something you cannot control?

How can you help students practice choosing and become more independent in their learning?

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2 Responses to “How do YOU want to teach?”

  1. kenthinksaloud May 3, 2013 at 12:55 am #

    I enjoyed the presentation for the book and, as always, I am in agreement with most of what you state as principles for teaching.

    If I had to offer any criticism it would be that I didn’t get the sense of anything new in your book from your presentation. The principles you detail are well-established (at least in the UK) as good teaching methods and goals. If I were to buy the book I would want to know more about how you set out to help a teacher like me achieve this in reality. You are preaching to the converted if the book merely expounds why and how these principles matter. Most teachers ‘on the frontline’ need solid techniques to achieve the aims.

    Best wishes to you with the book promotion.

  2. Nina May 6, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    Hi Ken, Thank you for your comment, and making me think! Always appreciated! :)

    What I see happening in schools is not always in good alignment with the agreed methods and goals of quality teaching and learning. Often teaching is emphasized very much over learning, even though it should be exactly the opposite! Non-punitive assessments are rarely seen, and immediate feedback loops that strengthen learning are seldom used effectively.

    One part of the problem is relying too much on “techniques” or “strategies” created by others, without really thinking through how (or if) they help students to become independent learners. Applying “techniques” often reduces students’ choices and at worst may lead to “cookie-cutter-teaching”, because most techniques are about teaching, not learning.

    Creating successful learning experiences is less about implementing techniques than creating a relationship with students, and the book has a big emphasis on relationship building. Learning happens in interactions, and being able to support students’ individual learning is what productive teaching is made of.

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