I would like to welcome you back from the long holiday. The young people have already reported to school yearning for knowledge and skills from us. This shows how important we are in determining their destiny. Against that background, we should remind ourselves of what we need to do this year in order to help learners attain meaningful education for the good of the society.
There is need for us to have our schemes of work ready to ensure that we teach systematically. Let us have schemes of work that are in line with the teaching syllabi for our respective subjects and classes. Following the syllabus is very important because the examiners base on it to set the national examinations.
However, we should be flexible. We do not need to become slaves of the syllabus. There are instances where following the syllabus to the letter does not help us to address the students’ needs adequately.
For instance, you may teach a topic and after carrying out continuous assessment of the learners, you discover that they have not grasped the concepts. This calls for remedial lessons to help them achieve before another topic is introduced. Remember that teaching and learning must go together. There is no offence in pushing some topics slightly ahead after realising that you have to conduct some remedial lessons.
We should use the learner-centered approach because it motivates learners to study with enthusiasm and it empowers them with the spirit of self-reliance and cooperation. This approach requires us to emphasise teaching methods such as pair work, group work, class discussions and project work.
I acknowledge that there are instances that may require the use of teacher-centered approach but we should largely use the learner-centered one, where the teacher’s task is to facilitate and guide students’ discussions, clarify issues, supplement on their contributions, acknowledge their views and use positive re-enforcement to motivate them.
We should stop assuming that the learners’ minds are blank and our role is to pump material into their brains. They have lots of experiences that they can share in class as they study. What is important is for us to be careful whenever we ask them to perform certain tasks jointly. We should always have pairs and groups that comprise learners with different learning abilities to ensure that the fast learners help their colleagues who may be slow at learning.
Out of experience, you must have realised that different learners learn differently. The learning styles include visual, tactile, auditory and kinaesthetic. There are students who learn better by seeing. Others learn by touching the learning materials. There is a category of students who learn better by hearing and some learn by doing.
This calls for the use of differentiation. We ought to cater for the needs of all the various categories of learners. The methods that we use and the materials that we select for the lessons should cater for each and every individual’s needs in the class.
We should encourage learners to do research as a way of widening their understanding of subject content. We can achieve this by giving them tasks that require them to look for information from the internet or text books regularly. Learners can even research on the topics that we have not yet taught so that by the time we teach those topics, they can easily understand the concepts. If we keep on marking their researched work, they will be compelled to do research continuously and our task of teaching will be simplified.
Let us emphasise continuous assessment in order to check their understanding of the aspects we teach. This enables us to determine their progress and make the necessary interventions.
I strongly believe that with concerted efforts, we shall be able to achieve self-reliance among the students.
The writer is a teacher at Riviera High School.