Teachers touch their students’ lives forever, therefore teaching is consequential.
Research has shown how the teachers have a tremendous impact on student achievement than any other factor and that the ‘proximity effect’ which essentially means that the closer teachers are to the learner, the greater is the positive effect on their achievement. This leads to the construct that development and improvement of the importance of ‘self -belief’ in teachers and the improvability in teaching can only happen when it is made absorbing, vital and worthwhile from the perspective of both. The art of teaching is a work in progress, in my opinion. It needs to be perfected all the time and again I am convinced from my teaching experience that ‘intelligence/innate talent’ is definitely not the ceiling of student performance.
As a teaching professional with an active mindset, I have always been convinced of the fact that achievement occurs in students’ heads and with well-judged practice, help, time and determination, academic improvement is inevitable. Driven by this belief, I have adopted the following steps in my classroom teaching plan:
- Being responsible
- Being responsive
- Being reflective
- Taking initiative
- Monitoring progress
As a result, I have felt more empowered in my teaching because I have attributed success to factors within my control and made my efforts in the classroom seem more meaningful and motivational for me.
Since I believe that learning and teaching should improve at every step to reduce the gap between the two functional members, i.e. the student and the teacher to make that connection, I have focused on the questions listed below:
- How do I guide and recruit students in their choice of their learning programs, courses and modules that are appropriate for them and meet their academic goals?
- How can I ensure that my students learn at their best in our lessons, not just in the majority of them?
- How can we best work with parents, classroom assistants, mentors and others?
- How do I design a course /programme that ensures maximum success for my students?
- How do I discover the support that my students will need to succeed in their academic programs and make sure that they get it?
- How do I make sure that I am not inadvertently excluding some students due to some of own personal biases – ethnicity, social background, disability, for example.
- Lastly, how do I improve the flavor of my teaching and adapt them in the best possible way to address the needs of my students?
Based on the above, my premise of teaching is based on the ‘Quality Learning Cycle’ which encompasses a two way flow of processes by overcoming communication blocks and barriers, thus bringing the students to their nearest approximation of understanding of the content delivered.
In my view, I have no direct control over the learning process because it is a hidden mental process whereby the students are constantly improving by correcting misconceptions and adding to their understanding. In a way it is quite a private problem-solving process therefore enabling the students to create a personal understanding of specific skills and knowledge that they need to learn the prescribed material and obtain the desired learning outcome.
By using the Quality learning cycle I help my students to use their own ‘meanings’ or ‘constructs’ of activities so that they can get feedback on its strengths and weaknesses thus enabling them to check and correct their learning. Students learn from group work, self-assessment and peer assessment to check their own and each other’s’ learning, how to test assumptions etc. This develops their ability to form constructs, test them and also to improve them. As a result, they learn to think in the subject.
As a reflective practitioner, I am always evaluating my teaching. Since teaching is an experiential cycle that has four important parts – Concrete Experience, Reflection on Action -Abstract Conceptualization and lastly, Planning Active Experimentation which all lead teachers such as myself to become critical thinkers. Critical thinking leads to skilled reasoning because it helps in developing intellectual standards such as precision, clarity, relevance, depth, accuracy and significance. Learning happens in a socially collaborative space and only when students are connected with their educators, they can actively construct the knowledge and apply that knowledge instead of passively receiving it.
Instead of developing ideas on one’s own reasoning abilities, as a critically reflective educator I introduce the ability to be more caring and receptive towards my students’ interests so that I am willing to listen to them, and consider their ideas as possibilities.