StarTeaching Feature Writer

 

Yasmeen Jumani has been a teacher Educator for the past 11 years.  She has done her Masters in Islamic History from the University of Karachi.  She has a Master in Education from Hamdard University, Institute of Education and Social Sciences, A VT certificate from AKU-IED along with an advance diploma in (PTEP) Professional Teacher Education Program from IIS and AKU- IED. 

 

Past Articles from Yasmeen Jumani:

Some Practical Tips While Teaching In Secondary Classes
Parental Involvement Through In-Class Support Program
Value Added Practice In Teaching And Learning

 

A Journey From Teacher to Action Researcher:   A case study
Can Students Assess Their Own Learning?
Decision-Making: A Continuous Process in Teaching

 

Some Practical Tips While Teaching In Secondary Classes

By: YASMEEN JUMANI

Being a teacher, I know it is very important to engage students in learning at all stages. However, many students' attention have a limited span especially in the secondary classes; they fed up and get bored quickly comparative to those in other age levels. It has also verified that after 8 minutes of constant speaking, listeners can be  frustrated to stay alert until the end.  Therefore, it is very important for teachers of all levels to enhance students retention power as much as possible because low energy levels won’t allow students to take interest in teaching, learning, and performing tasks effectively.

A passionate teacher always keeps this in mind that children of any age require fulltime engagement. This can be done through various means by bringing innovative teaching strategies into the classroom. As Christensen, Garvin & Sweet mentioned, “To teach is to engage students in Learning.”  However, the engagement of students is possible in various ways. Thus there should be some way forward to keep our classes lively and interactive.  The following are some of the practical “Tips” where teachers could help their students to enjoy learning:

  1. It is healthier to start our class with a ' Recap' activity; this would help learners to link with the learned concept as a “reinforcement”
  2. It would be more appropriate to highlight key terminologies on the board with some visual designs. As a result, students could learn that piece of information with some sort of symbols up visually for a longer time.
  3. Often, front- seated students get more of the teacher's attention, while those sitting in the back have less of a chance to get the teacher’s eye contact.  Therefore, seating arrangements should keep on changing accordingly.
  4. It would be more appropriate to relate ideas with student’s practical life where they can find suitable and meaningful connections and relate learning with practicality.
  5. Whatever discussions or information is shared among students in a class by teachers, we can instruct students to describe learning  in their own words, pictures, rhyme, poems, or in some way related with any metaphor.
  6. While distributing notes, or marking answers from the book, if the teacher just highlights the key points, that will also enable students to relate and recall some on the major points.
  7. Taking notes is also a good strategy to remember about the class events; therefore encourage students to take notes.
  8. Once a while the teacher can give several topics to the class and instruct them to work in groups/pairs and present information in their own words (this will  be the greatest help for them) 
  9. The teacher’s own motivation and enthusiasm can play significant role.
  10. Often it seems that teachers assign a task after delivering the lecture. If this proposed assignment can be mentioned before initiating the lecture, I believe students would pay most of their attention throughout class, knowing they have to perform their role after the session.
  11.  As teachers, it’s necessary to keep on changing our strategies as needed, because monotonous ways don’t attract learners; hence we should also look for new methods and strategies in regard to pedagogical aspect (how to deliver the content).
  12. After the end of the session/lesson, teachers may ask students about “the learning of today” which will help them to recall and rethink.
  13.  If two- way communications take place, student’s retention and interaction power can be increased easily.  

Parental Involvement Through 'In-Class Support Program'

By: YASMEEN JUMANI

“The school will teach children how to read, but the environment of the home must teach them what to read. The school can teach them how to think, but the home must teach them what to believe”.
- Charles A. Wells

The child is the center of any educational setting where curriculum, teachers, infrastructure all revolved around him or her. The physical structure in any educational setting is one of the major means where learning takes place. Curriculum is another facet accessible for every teacher, further translated accordingly in the form of prescribed text books and other supplementary reference material.  Teachers perform their role as facilitator, trying to achieve their targets throughout the academic year.

The above mentioned chain could be figured out very easily in any educational system through a top down approach or bottom up method, and outcomes may be observed very easily. The formal school structure has been now rigorously experiencing the unwillingness of parental involvement and only for this reason, the practical dimension of curriculum could not even be achieved. This vulnerable aspect is now becoming an educational dilemma especially during the in-class support time which indicates that parents are no doubt aware of their children's day to day school activity but  actually don’t even know whether  learning is  taking place or how they could become  the real partner of their children in the entire educational world.  

The statute defines parental involvement as "the participation of parents in regular, two-way, and meaningful communication involving student academic learning and other school activities, including ensuring that parents play an integral role in assisting  their child’s learning; that parents are encouraged to be actively involved in their child’s education at school; [and] that parents are full partners in their child’s education and are included, as appropriate, in decision-making and on advisory committees to assist in the education of their child. …” (A-1)

The formal schooling is not sufficient to decide what and where a child would be in the near future and the entire responsibilities cannot be put on the school system only because each classroom contains a mixed ability group of learners, and teacher(s) usually deal with individual differences. Only parents are the key mediators whose involvement and induction help teachers to deal children with specific needs and sort out solutions of any pertinent impediment. The reason behind is that parents understand their children best because they usually spend more time with them and that’s why through their on-time support, children learning ability and class participation can flourish and foster. As Stenhouse mentioned (1977, p.3) “The central problem of curriculum study is the gap between our ideas and inspiration and our attempts to institutionalized them.’’  This indicates that parents are the ones who can play a vital role in their children’s learning and minimize the gap between curriculum and child’s understanding. Hence this partnership will also determine how a taught curriculum should practice in the home environment where children could further complement their learning through the practical dimension of education with their parent’s support.

the child is placed in a center of a triangle; certainly curriculum, parents, and teachers would be the three vertices which are interconnected, and this triangle functions as a scaffold.  Without of one of these, the figure of a child is seen incomplete.  Educationists strongly suggest that appropriate measures must be required for a school system to induct parents in the system.  Also we need to educate our parents about the underpinning of the curriculum and what outcomes must be catering through their support. "The child pulls parents and teachers together, but without the help of one another, parents and teachers pull the child apart.” Debora Tinnin

Education is a continuous process and allows all stakeholders to strengthen their connectivity with education as a lifelong learner. Hence involvement in children’s education is again a golden chance for parents to update and enhance their learning and understanding about new modes and perspectives through their children’s eye. Thus there are numbers of benefits of parental involvement when schools work together with families to support learning, and children tend to succeed not just in school, but throughout life (Source: The Parent Institute)

Moreover there are many ways through which parental involvement could be strengthened in our school system. Not only is it prudent to call parents in parent-teachers meetings (PTM) but in parents conferences  where parents could  discuss the educational issues of their children and seek for the solution. Also the home assignment is the best way that their involvement can be observed clearly.  However, it’s important to see how children could be facilitated during this process. There are some other occasions where every school manager could invite parents to supervise the co-curricular activities which could be a great incentive for both children and parents. If parents get involved in helping teachers in preparing low -cost and other teaching resource material, it will be an additional means of support from parents to engage themselves in their child ‘s learning and assess the learning that is occurring.  A school could initiate the services of professional parents by engaging them in yearly /annual activities such as debate, art, drama, speech and other competitions. ‘Parent day’ is one more innovation where the rich diversity of expression could be celebrated and promoted collegiality.  

Research indicates that the most accurate predictor of a student’s achievement in school is not income or social status, but the extent the student’s family is able to:

1. Create a home environment that encourages learning.
2. Express high and realistic expectations for their children’s achievement and future careers.
3. Become involved in their children’s education at school and in the community.
(Source: www.cde.state.co.us - Strengthening Parent Involvement)

Research clearly shows that those parents who are been involved  in teaching learning process, their  children shown remarkable interest in studies and day to day activities.  Moreover a culture of respect, trust and ownership could be commenced through parent’s indication in education which will further assure the ongoing progress of child learning’s.

Finally, it is up to the parent whether they want to participate in their children’s learning on a seasonal-based approach by attending a Parent Teacher Meeting and signing the report card only, or if they are really keen to see the difference in their children by partaking in the classroom as a reason based approach.  The U.S. Secretary of Education mentioned, “Parents are children’s first and most influential teachers. By reading to children or having them read to us, by making sure homework is done, by monitoring television use, by knowing how children spend their time, parents can have a powerfully positive effect on their children’s learning”.

Value added practice in teaching and learning – ‘A Reflective Practice’

By: YASMEEN JUMANI

Teaching is a conscious activity where one has to deal with diverse individuals at the same time. Though on the one hand, it seems pleasant to deal with different groups of learners, but on the other hand, it requires quick decision-making ability from teachers/facilitators to deal with lots of difficult and complex situations emerge during interaction hence, it leads to reflective teaching.

Dewey (1933) defines reflection as “…active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or practice…”As teachers, we can reflect on classroom decisions and events;  reflection also involves the emotional, passionate, and intuitive side of teaching therefore, reflective practice in teaching necessarily encompasses critical self-evaluation, which can be difficult at times. 

Reflective teaching though is an approach but it is more than an attitude, which requires constant thinking and questioning of our own set beliefs, assumptions, judgments, prejudices, emotions and feelings related to world around us. Pollard (1979) says, “Reflective teaching is important as the process through which ascending levels of competence, in whatever sphere can be developed. Reflective practices will help to develop beyond this” 

In modern teaching, a reflective practice is indeed a relevant notion that enables a good teacher to learn while teaching, and through his /her reflections, s/he gains experience into learning.

Reflection can be done individually, interactively, or situational wise, following steps are involved in the process of reflective practice:

  • Reflect on the situation
  • Identify the current practices
  • Challenge existing beliefs and practices
  • Explore alternatives
  • Mediate with context
  • Make choices
  • Act on it
  • And the cycle continues

 Above-mentioned steps are the ladder towards becoming a reflective teacher. This can be filled through maintaining reflective journals, on- going discussions, class room observations and conversations. Besides that, we would be able to challenge our own existing practices by knowing our selves and then in the light of discussion we could further accept the arguments as a challenge that enable us to take new initiatives in the light of said discussions that motivate us towards strive for achieving our goal. 

Another model of Reflective practice proposed by Cunningham Florez’ (2001) as follows:

  1. Collect descriptive data – reflective journals, theoretical literature, talking to colleagues
  2. Analyze data – in terms of attitudes, assumptions, beliefs, goals, power relationships, etc.
  3. Consider how the situation  could have been different – examine alternatives to teacher behaviour and choices and beliefs behind classroom teacher behaviour
  4. Create a plan to incorporate new insights. 

 Reflective teaching allows practitioners for personal and professional growth. It enables them to improve on –going practice and understand it better. It assists them to do things right and be able to justify their actions. Besides that, it allows learners to become creative and innovative. It promotes mutual understanding and encourages sense of responsibility within participants. It also helps practitioners to articulate their thinking clearly. It helps to develop the capacity to imagine and explore alternatives to existing ways of thinking and living. Thus, it adds value in our own teaching  
 

References:

  1. Andrew Pollard (1997), Reflective teaching in the primary school
  2. Cunningham Florez, M. (2001) Reflective teaching practice in adult ESL settings. Center for Adult English Language Acquisition.  http://www.cal.org/caela/.
  3. Dewey, J. (1933) How we think. New York : Heath & Co

 

 

A Journey From Teacher to Action Researcher:   A case study

Introduction and Literature Review

Teaching is a conscious activity where one has to deal with diverse individuals at a time. However, it seems pleasant to deal with a different group of learners but it requires skilled ability and quick decision-making from facilitators to deal with series of difficulties and complexities emerged during interaction. Consequently, it brings in reformation and improvement in any activity in which students and teachers are engaged in.  Thus, this whole process enables the teacher to become a reflective teacher who takes action(s) to improve the situations and processes to make learning meaningful.

Reflective teaching is an approach which requires constant thinking i.e. questioning our own beliefs, assumptions, judgments, prejudices, emotions and feelings encountered during the process of teaching and learning. According to Carson (1990),Action Research is a combination of both action and research. It is an attempt to more fully understands our educational practices in order that we may act in ways that may bring about, both, improvement and understanding. Moreover, Action Research is a small-scale intervention in the functioning of the real world and a close examination of the effects of such intervention(s)”.

The most important feature of action research is that it is concerned with immediate solution through intervention which means that throughout the process, it emphasizes a systematic approach to taking actions, critically reflects on planned actions, and observes the impact in both the cases either positive or negative.

Purposes:

Action research is a package of instant solutions, which assists practitioners to remedy problems diagnosed in specific situations, or improves in some way with a given set of circumstances.  It is a means of in-service training and development, to equip teachers with new skills and methods, sharpening their analytical powers, and heightening their self-awareness. Furthermore, it encourages learners to inject additional or innovatory approaches to teaching and learning on an ongoing basis.

Significance:

Action research is a key to success where practical concerns of people are known in immediate problematic situation that motivates practitioners as a valuable source of knowledge regarding their practices where they explore issues of mutual interest and concerns through self-reflective inquiry. Also, it enables them to improve rationality and justice in their own practice and establishes a reflective, problem-solving mindset among practitioners. In short, Action Research is an opportunity that exists for bringing professionalism and efficacy.

How I became an Action Researcher of Ta’lim Curriculum?  A Case Study

During the second episode of my Professional Teacher Educator Program, one of my assignments was to conduct an action research in one of the School/RECs in Karachi.  I spent almost 23 contact hours and delivered three different lessons with various strategies to become familiar with the setting and learners’ needs.

In the words of Kemmis and McTaggart, 1988, "Action Research is a form of collective self-reflective inquiry undertaken by participants in social situations in order to improve rational practices, as well as their own social or educational practices and the situations in which the practices are carried out”.

Context of the Study

After seeking the familiarity, I crystallized my choice and focused only on the book 3 of the Primary V titled “Opening windows on Allah’s creation”. The total contact sessions were 23 that were held 3 days in a week for more than 2 months. There were 18 registered students with two teachers, one teacher known as class teacher and another was assistant-teacher. All the sessions i.e. classes were held in the big hall where almost 12 to 13 other classes were simultaneously running at the same time.

Area of Study

My area of study was:  “How to assist students in articulating the key messages of Ta’lim (P5 book 3) and relating with their practical lives”?

The proposed issue of this action research was very pertinent for me to ensure how the key messages of Ta’lim should be translated at the level of the students; as I have been pondering upon this issue for quite a long time and also raised in many forums and training programs. While seeking the opportunity for the field work I chose to explore this emerging issue with Action Research Model.

Upon finalization of School/REC, I met with the whole administration and shared the purpose and objectives of my action research. The approach is important in action research that is known as emancipatory i.e. the process is not hierarchical; rather all people concerned are equal participants contributing to the inquiry.

Being a researcher, it was very important for me to be familiar with the existing educational context where teaching learning is taking place and to build relation with the stakeholders and especially the class teacher. During my initial observations, I observed various things and shared my feedback with the class teacher accordingly. I felt these observations would certainly allow me to situate myself better as an inquirer and alert me as observer. This approach is called participative and collaborative which is the most significant characteristic of an action research where the researcher is not considered an outside expert conducting an enquiry with subjects, but a co-worker doing research with and for the people concerned with the practical problem and its actual improvement.

However, in this study, I was involved as a teacher as well as researcher; throughout the process class, teacher’s reflections about my teaching, students’ participation, behavior, and performances were of paramount importance. As a teacher, I prepared and developed lesson plans, educational forms, and arrangement of teaching learning material and resources, to implementing the curriculum in the class and evaluate student’s performances. As a researcher, I involved in collecting and analyzing the data that appeared in daily transactions and finally developing patterns to collate all my findings in a report.

The following is the rationale to select the role:

Ø      Getting first hand information about teaching learning process at a particular School/REC.

Ø      Personal realization of the issues and challenges of teaching and implementation the curriculum in real classroom situation.

The areas I concentrated during my teaching were:

·        Child-centered approach (student’s autonomy)

·        Student engagement  in teaching learning process

·        Using a variety of strategies

·        Students homework

·        Role of Ta’lim content  in terms of text book

        (For further study about Ta’lim, visit; http://www.iis.ac.uk/view_article.asp?ContentID=104853)

After careful study of action research approach and being acquainted with this, I internalize the action research cycle and then responded above-mentioned areas one-by-one as mentioned below.

Model of Action Research Cycle

1. Plan                 Problem Analysis and Strategic Planning

2. Action             Implementation of the Strategic Plan

3. Observation    Evaluation by appropriate methods and techniques

4. Reflection        On results of evaluation and the action itself
    a.  Identification of the new problem
    b.  New cycle of planning, action, observation, and reflection

Before initiated action research teaching in the class, I took two unstructured observations, where I came to know that students’ involvement and participation is less that required to be increased. During the observations, my findings informed me that because of teacher-centered approach with controlled behavior teachers could not seek maximum participation of students. Thus, I worked on it, brought in discussion strategy, and plan my lessons that required participation from students.

At the completion of action research, the class teacher reflected as following:

“My teaching method before coming of Yasmeen to my class was to read the lesson. My method was not so much activity-based. My strategy was a teacher not facilitator”

The pedagogical approaches suggested in Ta’lim are students-centered that enable them to partake in the process, which is embodied in constructivism (Jonassen, Peok and Wilson 1999)

On the other hand, the constructivism rests on the notion that instead of absorbing or passively receiving knowledge that is ‘out there’, Learners actively construct knowledge by integrating new information and experiences into what they have reconciled it with this new. (Billett1996)

The pedagogy that are based on the constructivist theory such as class discussion, group presentation, project work, etc. are supportive in stimulating students’ creativity and fostering their learning. Throughout the process, my teaching approach was based on constructivism where teaching strategies such as think-pair-share, group presentation, role-play, creative writing were commonly used. Initially students faced difficulties in sharing their views therefore in my initial lesson plans dated October 2nd   5th  and 9th , 2007, I intentionally placed some of the  activities that could help students to come up with their own ideas, and thinking, later on their involvement became the part & parcel of my teaching.

My critical partner (CP) shared her thoughts regarding the above:

“Firstly, in her teaching, she used much pedagogy that made it easier for students to learn that building a base of your students before starting any chapter is important for their full involvement”.

I was successful in bringing students’ voices up. Afterward they participated in all classes from initiation to the end of the day, and sometimes, it seemed difficult to stop them as in the 45 minutes we could not get involved in lengthy discussion as a whole class strategy; as a result, in further classes, I divided them into groups where they discussed their opinions. Initially it was very limited, chaotic but gradually it went quite well.

I also noticed that my students weren’t working well in groups especially sharing of ideas with each other.  Therefore initially I had to structure the task with greater details, projecting who would do what etc. but later with the help of cooperative learning strategy we overcome this issue together, and students started partaking in turns, appreciating others’ ideas and managing time etc.

A girl-student shared her thought during post- research interview: “Our mind cannot get with so many ideas at a time but by group work we got so many ideas.

Another participant said, “We built friendship bond.

The co-teacher of the class shared her views by saying, “Each child was participated, and every one shared their ideas through this group activity. They also learn how to cooperate with each other.

In addition to this, data indicates that students-centered approach is supportive in developing positive qualities among students such as confidence, ability to express, leadership qualities, and sharing ideas.

During the process of initial action, I noticed that students began to participate in the given tasks.

As my critical partner (CP) mentioned “All took great interest in this. I noticed that even those who don’t respond frequently in class, also took  great interest, one of the students who had problem on phrasing her sentences, has taking help from her classmates.”

One student shared his reflections during the informal talk, “We shared what we understood and what we didn’t was explained to us by our group mates”.

Another significance of the action research is its practicality where the results and insight gained are not only of theoretical importance to the advancement of knowledge in the field, but also lead to practical improvements during and after the research process.

Martin (2000) has highlighted “Motivation can be conceptualized as student’s energy and derive to learn work efficiently and achieve to their potential at school and the behaviour that follow from this energy and drives” (Pg 35).

During the process, it seemed difficult to respond to all the ideas made by students due to the shortage of the time, where hardly 25 to 30 minutes time is allocated for a day. For this, I recommended that at least 45 to 50 minutes to be allocated for certain concepts especially when a teacher employs discussion strategies where the input of each child is crucial for further conceptual development. This led to another intervention where I stretched the plan for my upcoming classes till the final cycle. As a researcher, I applied the negotiation strategy with observer teachers and students, and with their consent, we stretched the class timings up to 60 to 70 minutes to meet the agreed objective(s). Situational based is one of the characteristic of an action research  which  concerned with diagnosing a problem in a specific context and attempting to solve it in that context..

I practiced self-reflection and self-assessment in my professional learning by writing reflections and reviewing my plans to support my own development as a learner and a teacher. Reflective practice is defined in a most recent literature as a vehicle through which one can improve his practices by thinking and rethinking on their own experiences. As McKernan, 1987 defines that Action Research is self-reflective problem solving… which enables practitioners to better understand and solve pressing problems in social settings.”

The cyclic model of action research enabled me to bring in connectivity and monitor progress among learners. Though it seemed a humongous task in the beginning, all cycles were completed swiftly because of relativity. This learning opportunity fostered confidence and critical thinking in me.  It inspired me to partake in such challenging areas where I could model through my own practices some practical way-out for my fellow educators and teachers at REC.

 

Can Students Assess Their Own Learning?

Can students assess their own learning? Action research is positive about it!

The article encompasses my action research that was done in the one of the schools in Karachi

The whole paradigm of teaching will shift if we initiate a discussion on the question of ‘Can students assess their own learning within and outside the classroom’? How can they be able to know whether they participate joyfully in learning and what are the other ways though which they assess themselves and also enhance their learning further? Besides, it is also vital to know why is it important for a child to know what s/he learns, unlearns or relearns as s/he moves across grades and levels of learning.

According to the OCC Assessment Definition, Assessment is an on-going process aimed at understanding and improving student learning. It involves making our expectations clear to students and setting appropriate outcomes for learning. It helps determine how well student performance matches those outcomes. It uses the resulting information to improve student learning. In the words of Airasian (1994) “the process of collecting, synthesizing, and interpreting information to aid in decision making is called assessment”. Assessment therefore includes the full range of information teachers gather in their classroom; it is this information that helps them understand their pupils, monitor their instruction, and establish a viable classroom culture.

The term “Assessment” cannot be dealt exclusively in isolation because it is inclusive in nature and has a cyclical process within that. The term "assessment" is generally used to refer to all activities teachers use in the class to help students learn and to gauge student progress. The definition describes that “It is a continuous process, not a separate activity, which necessarily requires the use of extra variety of tasks, tests, practical activities and observation” Another definition suggests that “It is a part of everyday teaching and learning”. One defines the assessment as “It is concerned with measuring student’s performance during and following a program of study”. However “achievement can be seen as gaining mastery over certain skills, knowledge or understanding of any piece of work”. Thus it has been proven that assessment in itself is not an end, but a means to an end.

I was confronted with this question of assessing students' learning many times in my career.  I chose the similar question to explore via action research; moreover extension in my research question led it to explore the implicit and explicit ways through which learning takes place. 

During my teaching as an action researcher, I was given grade VI, whose teacher was not properly trained.  Though I intended to work with a qualified and trained teacher eventually, I began my action research project with that teacher. She was good natured lady and teaching with a traditional way of transmitting knowledge. This became a great challenge as I wanted to explore how students can measure their own learning, how they become partners with teachers in seeking curriculum goals etc. I therefore had to bring a little modification in my plan.

In the first phase, through a participatory model, I engaged with students via interactive teaching methodologies.  This took an entire two months to bring a paradigm shift from the traditional to progressive mode of teaching and learning.  It was regular teaching and I had forgotten that I was the researcher.  I took a new role as teacher.  That teacher and I found that students are no more quiet in the class; moreover they were interested in what was to be taught or not, and how through various methods they are questioning the knowledge base mentioned in the text books, or written material.

In the next phase, where students have adopted certain traits, they started becoming critical about the ideas, about various strategies, about the purpose of studying any theme.  Then I initiated my plan to question their learning.  Instead of focusing on replies, our entire class process was to reflect on questions and that began the unending debate culture in the class. For simple to complex themes, we had questions to explore them further.  For instance, the initial first few classes, we debated a lot on the following:

1.        What is the role of science in our life?

2.       How and why science helps people in various fields of life

3.       What is the main difference between the lives of Stone Age people and modern time?

4.      Why did humans started thinking to make some changes?

Gradually, through introducing various strategies students were able to find out the reason for every action, thought, or concept etc. I realized as a researcher that introducing the Portfolio was a successful strategy as it enabled them to link their daily learning and maintain a log about it. For instance, students are asking each other

          Why have I chosen this artifact?

          What standards does it meet and why?

          How has this helped in my learning?

          What did I do that hindered my learning?

          What am I going to do about it (next steps)?

As a researcher, I used the following methods that informed me about students' learning and also about how they measure their own improvement on a regular basis.

Class

Presentation

Oral reports on project or other investigative activities

Essays/Poems

Written work in which students try out ideas and arguments supported by evidence.

Group work

A variety of types of assessment done in groups to develop students’ teamwork skills and/or enable students to undertake larger tasks than could be done by an individual.

Interview

Verbal interaction between assessor and assessed

Learning Contract

A structured method whereby the student designs and implements manageable learning activities in consultation with a staff advisor/teacher

Practicum/Practical session

Assessment of practical skills in an authentic setting

Small Projects

In-depth exploration of a topic or field

Portfolio

Students’ log about their every day learning

Besides measuring their own learning, the entire process also facilitated improving students' attendance in the class, their participation level, and their willingness to engage in learning even at home as home-assignments. Furthermore, the class teacher worked closely and appreciated the worth of knowledge she had learned from the entire process. And finally this created an impact on the overall classroom environment that made it extremely positive. What is the important thing is if the teacher has planned and informed, then s/he can engage students, parents and community and bring any change that is desired.

 

Decision-Making: A Continuous Process in Teaching

Teaching is a very conscious activity where one has to deal with diverse learners at the same time. Though it seems pleasant to deal with such a different group of learners, it requires a quick decision-making ability of teachers who deal with a lot of difficulties and complexities that emerge during the interactions of lessons.   Another aspect for an effective lesson is planning.

It is very difficult to define and describe the characteristics of good teaching.  In short, a lot of qualifications, credentials, experiences and efforts are required for a good and effective teacher. The foremost quality of a teacher is the command on the delivery part of a lesson - how s/he integrates content knowledge with pedagogical skills.  That is only possible if a teacher has the power of decision making (the how and into which quantity s/he has to deliver the lesson.) 

WHY:

Decision-making is a very careful step that helps the facilitator to take selective actions in the light of sense hypothesis. It seems unhealthy to pour out all that information and content material into a student’s mind, but we need to make sure that to what extent it can be appropriate for the learner’s  needs and  the requirement of that learning content. Sometimes it seems that our decisions are not suitable in the long run, although it’s fulfilling/catering the needs of present time. That is why teaching is recognized as a reflective and thinking based journey rather than a monotonous way of delivering information. It assists the decision-maker to take action with thorough reflections on how children learn and what would be the desired outcomes.

Teachers often complain that we would not be able to complete our task in the given time due to the abrupt discussion/s or some new arising questions. What I personally believe, it’s again an opportunity for teachers to think that sometimes it is good to proceed as per the original plan, but being a responsible person, it sounds intelligent to be flexible in one's planning and accommodating his/her selves as per the need and desire of the time and context.  

The major responsibility of a teacher is not to just complete the syllabus but also to make sure that learners produce meaningful outcomes while simultaneously their personalities are groomed with appropriate attitudes and skills. That is why the aim of education always leads towards holistic development of a child and all depends on the willingness of a teacher whose decision plays ‘the vital role’ in the children’s grooming.

HOW:

As we often heard an old saying, “I am because I am thinking”, this same theory applies while making a decision because it requires on-going reflection. An intelligent decision needs a lot of deep, critical and analytical thinking because if outcomes are expected with deliberate optimism, then it is necessary for an individual to challenge, analyze its own idea, practice, see the alternatives, and choose the best one. For example, a teacher plans a lesson for 2 days and delivers this in class. Hence this would be called an ordinary teacher.  But a reflective teacher will be in the process of constantly thinking, "how would I  enable  my  students  to learn the conceptual understanding  with more clarity?  How could I introduce my  students to some new strategies  through which they could learn more in the most effective manner?" It is also important for the teacher to pick up any new ideas / information with careful analysis and deliver it to the learners while asking, "does that make sense to them?"  Therefore, it is also important to collect feedback from students and then plan as per their needs.

The child is a natural investigator, if our instructions provide him a LEAD; we would be able to see the enhancement in the cognitive and behavioral developments both. Nonetheless, it is not that easy but our instructions should link with the child’s previous knowledge and the existing experiences so it would be called meaningful learning.

Multiple impediments that affect decisions

Dean Chesham said, “Let me give so much time to improvement of myself that I shall have not time to criticize other”

Best Brains are those that are always in the process of rethinking to construct new knowledge. I think teachers have the same role in producing something new but in the process of the production of something new, they face some hurdles and barriers and those hindrances often affect their performance and make them slow as well. Therefore "to make a difference” one has to sacrifice and brings out positive changes.

Here are some impediments that affects effective decision:

  1. Teachers have lack of freedom to take action on the behalf of the class.
  2. Some influential parents do not allow teachers to depict any conclusion from all the students.
  3. Previous teacher’s decision has long-lasting repercussions and effects.  Hence the new class teacher feels uncomfortable in the beginning to adjust with students and of course his/.her uncertainty is also apparent with his/her personality.
  4. Some experienced teachers have high expectations about  the newly enrolled students which also may create an unhealthy atmosphere for children to fulfill their demands
  5. Time factor is also one  of  the major obstacles, because the teacher's job is not only to deliver  the lesson, but he/she would have to see the other administration matter to run the class successfully apart  from academic activity.
  6. Sometimes school policies don’t harmonize with teacher’s perception level to draw some type of conclusion.
  7. Different vertical hierarchy could easily be figured out in any school system but how to delegate powers to subordinates are the missing elements. 
  8. If the internal physical environment of any classroom is seen as a ‘Conducive learning environment’ then may be difficulty for teachers to bring innovation.
  9. Often teachers make decisions on her/his behalf while bringing up any new idea or theory; they do not see any coordination with student’s previous learning and existing knowledge. Therefore, in the end, they find an unpredicted result. 
  10. Often times, a teacher’s benchmarks are brilliant students; therefore slow learners cannot mingle up with classroom learning neglected
  11. Often classroom seating imposes issues for teachers whether they have to instruct to the whole class or a particular group or else an individual
  12. If teacher collects students' feedback along with self-reflection, the problem of subject matter concepts could be overcome.
  13. Some influential students also undermine teachers and create an uncertain and unpredictable environment, for which the rest of the students suffer because the teacher tries to satisfy those who have a highly sound financial background.
  14. How much teacher engagement with students in class, and to whom he / she entertain and how many students are been neglecting from teachers.
  15. Classroom is considered a laboratory where numbers of experiences take place.  However every experience comes up with the multiple consequences so many times it seems difficult to manage different behaviors at one time
  16. If we have ever noticed that while watching T.V how much we can we remember about the advertisements?  In the same manner, the teachers encounters with several behaviors. Therefore, it is difficult to make any decision in the light of different experience because not all experiences are recording as a diverse way of learning.
  17. Insecurity increases among students because at one time how teachers make sure about the balanced approach while dealing with different individuals.

Some Suggestions to overcome the impediments while decision making

Whatever have been shared in the light of general observation, it is difficult to find out the solution for all of the impediments because it does vary from context to context.  A smart teacher carefully handles the problem keeping in mind the diversity and sensitivity as well.

 

 

 

 
 

 

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