The Concept of Teaching and Learning
Concept of learning
Teachers assisting students in learning will emphasise ‘how’, rather than ‘what’ they learn. It occurs when learners acquire new information and build on prior knowledge to make connections, unlike surface learning, which consists of factual content. Students at Astor International School are always asked to vocalise their sentences and say them out loud before starting to write an essay. The teacher also draws on the learner’s prior knowledge. This is represented in active learning, where learners are actively and experientially involved in the learning process that is taught through various teaching techniques and learning activities.
Learners construct their own understanding, instead of passively taking in knowledge. It gives learners the opportunity to not only gain knowledge and understanding but to apply, analyse and synthesise prior knowledge to create personal meaning. Learning proceeds from low cognitive demand to high cognitive demand.
According to the Elements of Mastery, it is a four-staged development; unconscious-incompetence, conscious-incompetence, conscious-competence, and lastly unconscious-incompetence. As mastery develops learners go from one stage to another and eventually achieve competence, and instinctively use that knowledge.
Based on the VAK learning style (Visual, Auditory, Kinaesthetic) learners absorb different types of content, through different modes.
Some learners benefit more from the verbal repetition of formats, and some benefit more from discussions and writing points on the whiteboard.
Social constructivism places great importance on social interaction that enables learners to move from one zone to another, in the zone of proximal development (ZPD).
Teaching methods and learning activities
It is vital for classes to be student-centric, to achieve efficiency in learning. During this process, the teacher plays the role of a facilitator. At Astor, inquiry-based instruction aids learners to think for themselves to become self-directed learners. This improves their critical thinking and problem-solving skills as they gain a deeper understanding of the academic content. During this process, encouraging learners to express their opinions helps the teacher to find out learning gaps that must be bridged.
Learning activities used regularly includes analysing case studies and conducting debates based on the findings. Game-based learning has a positive impact on learning like increasing student engagement. Therefore, learning activities like ‘bingo’ can even be used to conduct assessments for learning.
Project-based activities like ‘think-pair-share’ boost student engagement and improve cooperative and collaborative learning skills, where learners of different abilities come together and exchange ideas and perspectives, and ultimately present their findings through a verbal or pictorial presentation.
Student-centric and differentiated learning
Student-centric and differentiated learning lies in the foundation of inclusive learning where education is available for every learner whose educational needs will be met on an individual level. In my teaching practice, learners are more enthusiastic when they take charge because they are provided with personalised learning materials. Inquiry-based learning provides intrinsic motivation as learners have autonomy while being connected with other students and are more engaged in the learning process.
Game-based learning enhances student learning, as it promotes problem-solving and critical thinking skills. When interactive games are played during class, learners are alert and engaged, as learning is being done in a fun manner. Interactive learning activities are pillars of effective classroom learning. With social constructivism, when multiple learners are interacting together, they get a variety of different perspectives to tap into, for their understanding. Transfer of knowledge occurs among learners. Through this, students can connect theory with real life and they become more creative and collaborative.
Key skills like communication, application, and self-management can be developed while also sharpening higher-order intellectual skills. Learners were able to effectively communicate within their groups, with discussions that aided in peers learning from mistakes and gaining more knowledge.
With all these methods and activities in place, learners go from being passive recipients of knowledge to active and participatory self-directed learners.