Thursday, 18 August 2016

Anyone can stand in a class. But not everyone can stand out.

Have you ever wondered why does the aspect of Child Development and Pedagogy get so much importance in CTET? It’s not about some 30 marks, but the very level of difficulty that the section has commanded. Some experts even venture that nailing this section makes other sections way easier to navigate.

Turns out that what shapes a good teacher depends a lot on what orientation she has when it comes to the very approach of teaching. Teaching methodology plays a big role in expanding and deepening one’s impact as a teacher - in the class and beyond. It helps in your preparation for the career immensely if you spent some time considering your unique style and inclinations.

Of course, this choice would depend to a great degree on the diversity of one’s strengths, one’s environment, institution’s leanings, philosophy, classroom, learners, and objectives of education. Choices galore and range from conventional ones to radical ones, thereby giving a lot of room to apply direct to indirect, rigid or well-tested to new, closed to open, objective-based to boundary-less and instructor-heavy to learner-heavy methods.

Here are some examples of smart teaching methods that one can adopt based on the situation and the learner’s willingness to be a part of the process:
  • Lecture methods, Exams-driven instructions, What-based learning; Question-Answer Recitations and Cause-Effect teaching
  • Summary-preparation, Report-Constructions by students; Library research and other assignment-based approaches
  • Supplementary readings
  • Demonstrations, Lab work, Field trips
  • Immersive learning, Participatory learning, Peer-to-Peer instruction
  • Gaming and Simulation
  • Problem-solving or Case-study formats
  • Approaches high on encouraging creativity, questioning, innovation and free thinking. Like: Story-telling, Open-textbook study; Differentiated assignments and personalized challenges, Eric Mazur’s interactive learning technique, Inviting external experts or senior citizen(s) for specific sessions
  • Application-oriented development; Skill-focused sessions
  • Collaborative work, Hands-on learning, Drama, Role playing.
  • Tech-savvy and tool-powered teaching: Virtual training, Software, Videos, Demos etc.
One would have to consider a number of factors and a lot is uncertain in the future when one thinks about actual constraints, institution’s readiness as well as learner-readiness for some specific methods. But it would be a good idea to sort out at least one’s own preferences and strengths currently. This will enable you to head in the right direction and be aware of both the pitfalls and possibilities of certain methods.

What matters in a class is not who is teaching, but how is the lesson being conveyed to the learner. The precision, longevity, and impact of any lesson would depend on the ‘how’ and not so much on the ‘what’. This becomes acute in a scenario where a classroom presents a lot of diversity of student mindsets, openness, backgrounds, resources and comprehension levels.

Some students may like to learn beneath a tree, some would learn better with a game, some would learn faster through a story or a classmate, some would be better equipped to study a bee in a petri dish and some would like it in a real garden instead – but do you have what it takes to adopt suitable methodologies to become a teacher who can contribute in carving the future of these kids.

It would be good for a strong teacher to have at least a small mix of varying methods well-tapped so that every kind of student and every difficulty of lesson can be handled with confidence and ease.

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