Friday, May 24, 2013

10 Expectations from Students

As I was watching/ listening to the clip, I was, at the same time reflecting on our current practices; but more on what we set off to achieve in the school. 10 "expectations" were highlighted by the author:
1. Relationships 2. Relevance 3. Time 4. Timing 5. Play 6. Practice 7. Choice 8. Authenticity 9. Challenge 10. Application

They sound very familiar to us, especially in those that hook themselves very nicely with the notion of applied learning!

Here are my thoughts:

1. Relationships - This is the most fundamental link that needs to be established between the teacher and the students - of course, at varying degree. It's the relationship when the teacher gets to know the students better, sometimes to address to their emotional needs, learning needs (especially when they face challenges in the way they understand/ receive information), or to recognise and stretch their potential beyond what's planned for in the classroom. It's also through knowing the students that we sharpen our practices and customise the programme for the students so that they can get the most out of it.

2. Relevance - That's what makes learning meaningful. It's not as easy as we thought of. Often, we 'simplify' the "complexity" so much in our attempt to make the connection between what's to be taught to the real world application. It's a good attempt to make students see the relevance of what they learn to them - to address to the question on "why learn this?", "Learn for what?", "Learn for the sake of exam?". Therefore, I think, while we make the attempt to connect, we need to be mindful, and also to inform our students of the complexity that we have 'removed' when presenting the scenario; of course, if possible, stretch their thinking a bit further to see the connection between the intended concept/ content (to be taught) to others that could be currently beyond their syllabus.

3. Time & 4. Timing - It goes back to 'structures'. It's typical that teachers following the scheme of work to manage the pace the class learns. To cater to the individual needs, especially those who progress at a quicker pace, there should be mechanisms in place to allow these kids to "fly". That's where differentiated learning comes in... Definitely not into the route of doing "more of the same"... I suppose... How to challenge these kids deeper, perhaps; yet keeping their interest and enthusiasm there... so that they don't 'drag' their 'feet' into something that make they get bored... The mechanism has to keep in mind on how to keep their fire of passion continues!

5. Play - This goes back to the 'climate' that's created (or developed over time) for the class - a safe and conducive environment that encourages experimentation? that gives the space to make (some) 'silly' mistakes? It addresses to the psycho-social aspect...

6. Practice - It goes back to... practice makes perfect? Hm... not necessary to the extent of perfection (ok, depends on how we define 'perfection'). I think of mastery... hm... actually, at the more 'preliminary' stage is really about consolidation of learning. How often we actually "rushed" through the topics and expect the students to do "more" practice on their own? Hm... If time is not the "limit"/ constraint, it's through practice - when we observe how they pen down their working and the amount of time they take to pen it down on paper that tells us how well and how much they have understood or learnt. Of course, it calls for 'retention' of knowledge and skills at the end of the day.

7. Choice - How often we give students a choice on how they learn the content/ skills? Customisation? Differentiated Learning? Differentiated strategies for individuals... hm... Food for Thought. How skilful are we, as teachers in doing this? How often can we do this? It's no doubt a tall order if we were to do it for every single lesson. So, how do we balance it? Of course, we should try, as far as possible. In fact, through embracing choice, it helps to broaden students' learning - creating opportunity for them to learn from different perspectives, and widen their repertoire of strategies sometimes.

8. Authenticity  - ties back to #2 Relevance!

9. Challenge - Apart from setting tasks to challenge students beyond what's prescribed in the syllabus, I think, it's about attitude. The mindset that the learners need to have; or turn it the other way round, how do we, as educators, inculcate this mindset in the learners to be self-driven and highly motivated, and find/ create opportunities to challenge themselves to go beyond! of course, as educators, we need to have the firm belief that our students can be stretched.

10. Application - It's about applied learning; it's about making connections, seeing relevance and application in authentic context...

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