This paper examines theories of teaching that can be used by effective teachers to provide instruction to a variety of learners. This learning theory attempts to engage all forms of learners by speaking to each student individually and what better way to do that than to have the students learn from each other along with some using the student centered learning model. A variety of teaching concepts have been combined to construct a comprehensive format for instruction. .
Customized Learning Theory:
It has been stated that all people are created equally; this does not hold true in the case of learning. All students are actually created individually. All students have their own significant ways of processing information that is unlike any other. People best relate learning to personal experiences and since all students’ experiences in life are different so are their perceptions of a subject. Unfortunately, it is impossible to have an individual teacher for each student. This leaves teachers with the task of reaching all students on a personal level while still staying within the time constraints of a lesson plan. This can be a difficult task to accomplish but, not impossible using the student centered classroom model.
The best idea for accommodating a variety of different students is to allow them to learn from one another. This way all students are socialized to the others’ experiences at some point they all are thinking on the same level. The experiences that one student has had in life has been share with the others so they are then able to conceptualize the subject matter as if they have lived it themselves. In this form of teachers face the obstacle of stepping away from the conventional role of teacher and become a facilitator. Now although this form of dialog may hold well for some students, what happens to the shy standoff is student who does not have the courage to participate in group conversation? That student may be learning and even have some great ideas to add but lacks the confidence to speak out. This student still has the opportunity to show their understanding through tests and essay assignments.
Learning theory is the perception of how people learn and the process by which the information is internalized so it can be understood. Everyone has a different process of understanding information. The different ideas of what those processes are is learning theory. Learning theory is important as it informs of the best possible route of instruction so that understanding and retention are achieved. Without the perception of learning theory, there would be no way of making learning meaningful, which is the only way to achieve retention. Teachers need to have the ability to reach the entire class; through efficient understanding of learning theory the needs of the class population can be met. The teacher should then take this knowledge and apply it to how the instruction is delivered. This means they should mix different elements of the instruction on a topic so that all students have an equal opportunity to understand.
An effective teacher is one that is intentional. Intentional teachers set goal followed by plans of action to follow through to get students in engaged in the process of learning. An effective teacher’s goal is not to stand in front of a class in lecture but to get students involved in the learning process so they learn from each other. Effective teachers have the ability to step away from the traditional role of instruction and act as a facilitator in the learning process to guide student in to a way of thinking and discussing interesting topics in such a way that meaning and understanding is developed. The ability to help students mature and encourage strengths is one that must be attained by any teacher who intends to be effective.
The ideal environment for teaching and learning is in the classroom where students have the opportunity to openly discuss ideas. According to Shabani, Khatib, & Ebadi (2010) individuals learn best when working together with others during joint collaboration, and it is through such collaborative endeavors with more skilled persons that learners learn and internalize new concepts. Student are made to feel comfortable by having an open platform. Smagorinsky (2007) states writing and talking to learn are more inviting to students because they need not fear being wrong. It is explained that creating a positive school environment where students are free to explore the possibilities of their own identity help student become well rounded individuals.
The teacher must have a great deal of control over the class. In this form of learning respect for others opinions and tolerance must exist for learning to be success for and to keep the class orderly. Effective teachers must emphasize this respect and be sure that the students are operating on the belief of Matthew 7:12 however, you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Since in student centered leaning keeps students in the lesson there is less time for horse play and goofing off.
Direct instruction is more beneficial for use in some lesson as concepts have to be delivered to the student and some understanding must be gained in order for dialog to be meaningful. In direct instruction students are given information directly by way of lecture this is a more traditional method of teaching. With this method is students tend to become bored quickly and fail to retain information. When direct instruction is used it should be followed by some form of dialogue this makes a way for information can be related to real life experiences which gives a better chance for what has been learned to be retained.
When dealing with problematic student direct instruction can be the best method of teaching there is little room for interruptions. Since no student participation is required, students don’t have the ability to throw off the lesson plan or be lead off topic. This would be an ideal learning scheme for a class of exceptional learners.
Technology is a tool that will be often used by the effective teacher. Technology can be used in the classroom to keep students involved. In today’s society all classrooms must students used many forms of technology in the everyday lives. Moorhead (2009) states, use of these technologies can help overcome many challenges by helping engage students in an otherwise one-way teaching environment. It is key to step away from this one way teaching and engage our student in the lesson in order to achieve optimal learning. Moorhead (2009) goes on to suggest, technologies can dramatically impact overcoming classroom challenges and improve student retention are the use of interactive whiteboards and student response systems.
The teaching method will include many multimodality to reach all students needs. The class will use a mix of leaning techniques throughout the semester. Class content will include oral presentations, role playing, videos, and in class demonstrations. Students will be placed into mixed ability groups. The main idea if the student centered classroom is to get student to learn from one another all other grouping would call for a homogeneous mixture. Students need to be socialized with people who are above their level so they can learn from them. This can aid student in catching up to the level where they are supposed to be. According to Slavin (2012) when using mixed ability grouping students construct a shared understanding of a topic by building on each other’s ideas, discussing the significance of personal beliefs until mutual agreement is reached. Also grouping student homogeneously room for student to be judged negatively by their peers. Labels can then be set such as “geeks” or “nerds”. Students in lower ability groups could be considered “dumb”.
Hamman & Hendricks (2005) suggest that creating a positive school environment where students are free to explore the possibilities of their own identity help student become well rounded individuals. Many have argued that that mixed group learning can have negative effects on gifted learners as they are being held back from learning new concepts because the lower level students are taking away precious time from their advancement. This is an unfair view. Philippians 2:4 states “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” People must learn this is not hurting student what is actually happening is we are looking to better the world on a whole. Students are learning patience and tolerance. School is a learning community not only facts and mathematic calculations are taught but also the correct ways of living. The Bible states (Ephesians 4:2) we must handle people with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.
According to my learning style profile I am a progressivist. I find this to be very accurate, as I feel that the best was to understand a topic is by hands on interaction. Students learn through experience. I also believe that students learn through their environment but, environment alone does not determine learning. Environment merely sets a stage for beliefs but those beliefs can be modified over time. My learning theory is focused on group work and discussions as these set a platform for learning to be related to real life experiences which in itself gives the opportunity to make learning meaningful and more easily retained. My beliefs are deeply rooted in John Dewey’s theories that school is a community where the teacher is not a authoritarian but a facilitator for learning.
The learning centered classroom is most beneficial to students because they are given exposure to other student’s experiences. These experiences are used to gain and retain information. Mixed ability groups along with classroom discussion will keep student more intrigued that listening to a teach lecture on a topic. School is not only for teaching student’s facts and calculations; it is an environment where children learn the proper way to conduct themselves in society. Teachers are a part of the learning community not only put here to give information but to provide a stage for a lifetime of learning. This is like the Chinese proverb “give a man a fish he can eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he can eat for a lifetime”. I am looking to educate students for a lifetime.
Hamman, D. & Hendricks, B. (2005.) The Role of the generations in identity formation: Erikson speaks to teachers of adolescents. The Clearing House 79(.2) 72-75.
Moorhead, C.(2009.) Using technology in the classroom. Security Dealer & Integrator, 31 (6), 36-38
Shabani, K., Khatib, M., & Ebadi, S. (2010). Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development: Instructional Implications and Teachers’ Professional Development. English Language Teaching, 3 (4), 237-248
Slavin, R. (2012.) Educational Psychology: Theory and Practice. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc Smagorinsky, P (2007). Vygotsky and the Social Dynamics of Classrooms: The English Journal, 97 (2), 61-66