As a beginning teacher my objectives and goals were quite different from where they are now. I just remember feeling the huge weight on my shoulders as a plunged into a grade 4/5 classroom feeling like I had no idea what I was doing. One thing that stands out from my personal experience is that I knew I would figure it out as I went along. Without truly understanding my role or how my students would respond, I knew that this approach would work best for me. At the time, the term contructivism was not something I understood. I’ve always known that one of the main ways of understanding and learning for me was by jumping in feet first and building on pryer knowledge.
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Fortunately, I was introduced to the Grade 3/4 teacher who became my mentor. Learning through her style of teaching, I began the daunting task of developing my own style and figuring out what worked best for me. At that time, I taught the way I knew from my own educational experiences, the little I knew about behavioural management, and my inexperience in planning. Yikes, I sometimes cringe when I think of my first year.
I followed that approach the next year as I took over a Grade 1 classroom feeling completely clueless about how to teach students how to read. Fortunately, I had a great teacher model to learn from and was very successful at teaching my students how to read and write. In those beginning days of teaching, it felt like everything learned in university was forgotten. Likely, because the real learning was just beginning.
Slowly but surely, I began to learn from my students and realized how complex each student is. When looking at the overall picture of the learning in my classroom, I believe that most of my students are connecting and learning. But my thoughts tend to focus on the students who I am not reaching or connecting with. The question is “Why?” and “What direction should I go in from here?”
As I learner, I attain information through a combination of Behaviourist, Cognitivism, and Constructivism theories. I am unaware of any student/person who learns only one way. As many teachers develop their teaching practices over the years, their understanding of their students learning styles go hand in hand. Just as our students look, sound, understand, feel, analyze, contemplate, question, etc. differently, their learning style will differ too. As an educator, our job is to reach many different learning styles to ensure we bring out the best of each one of our students. This is an extremely daunting task.
In the eyes of Joe Ruhl, his number one suggestion is to allow student “Choice.” He discusses the 6 C’s. I love his menu idea for his science students. Such a fun way to provide Inquiry Learning. I have always appreciated the idea of providing choice and time for students to explore their creativity, build their communication and collaborative skills and become a problem solver rather than asking for someone else to do it for them. Each year, adding more student choice activities is a priority. When a group of students is engaged, they come up to me and share what they’re doing with enthusiasm rather than come up to me with confusion, hopelessness, and questions.
I appreciate being reminded of learning theories, the complexity of their content and how each theory originated. I find them very intriguing. Understanding the intricacy between how different people think, learn and absorb the world around them continuously surprises me.
Introducing the theory of Multiple Intelligences for my students, allows them to understand their own learning and really provides a way for them to recognize and focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses. Children learn at a very young age whether or not they succeed in school, especially in literacy and math. It’s nice to see their confidence build when they have opportunities to share their own intelligences. Whether students are struggling or feeling success I often remind them that some learning takes more practice and persistence whereas other ways of learning seem to come more naturally and with ease.