A BRIEF REFLECTION OF THE MY TEACHING AND LEARNING MODELS
I think that we are influencers as teachers, if we choose to be learners first. My philosophy of teaching is based on an inquiry based, constructivist approach, helping students to learn how to learn and how to teach themselves, through the use of authentic real life learning experiences, using the Inquiry process. My teaching focuses on preparing 21st century learners for the 21st century. I think that students will have to become life-long learners, and to be able to adapt to change. If students are to be successful in the future, they must be given the skills to learn how to learn. My teaching focuses on teaching student how to learn as well as developing their knowledge base and their understanding of the world around them. In teaching them how to learn, I focus on developing critical thinking processes for this information era, using De Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats, Costa’s Habits of Mind, Blooms Taxonomy and Gardiner’s Multiple Intelligences. I also teach students how to access information and how to evaluate sources of information. Constructivism is an approach to teaching and learning based on the reality or truth that cognition (learning) is the result of "mental construction”, (Caine, R.N., & Caine, G. (1991), where we construct our own understanding of the world we live in by reflecting on our own experiences. In other words, students learn by fitting new information together with what they already know, make connections, foster new understandings and reflect on their learning.
Inquiry learning is a constructivist pedagogy that intends to bring about deep learning by allowing learners to use an inquiry based approach to investigate and engage with issues and questions that are rich, real and relevant to their lives. I focus on learning around a fertile, rich concept rather than an event, topic or theme. This method provides many new opportunities for authentic and collaborative learning with the support of and onset of the read/write Web, Web 2.0. As a teacher I feel that I now have many more contexts and tools available to me via the Web, which I want to use and develop, to support student directed creation of content and knowledge. I feel that when students are more active and involved in their education, and when their learning experiences embrace, real world curriculum design, both teaching and learning becomes much more meaningful. I think that it is easy to pay lip service to the vision of this kind of learning. I would like to further examine what this actually means for me as a teacher learner and to develop and improve my knowledge, understanding, implementation and facilitation of this pedagogy.
As a teacher I try to empower students to become self –directed, independent and powerful learners who have a love for learning. To do this, I try to provide learning opportunities that excite students so that they feel passionate about learning. I think that students need to have a say in their learning choices and this is an areas that I need to work on. If I want students to take a higher degree of control over their own learning and understand that learning is something that they do and not something that is done to them then I need to pass more of the control of the learning to the students, provide opportunities for choice and encourage celebration of learning. I believe that goal setting for learning is important to direct learning. Constant reflection of learning goals is also important. I want to develop this by implementing a culture of reflective practice in my class.
I think that a metacognitive approach to reflection and being able to articulate what you have learnt, “knowing how” rather than “knowing that”, is really important for life-long learning. I want to facilitate and further develop this kind of discussion in my class.
I implement a differentiated learning programme, making sure that I cater for differing levels of ability, different learning styles and multiple intelligence. I do this by structuring a range of group, paired and individual activities. The focus is not always on grouping lower or higher level students together, but often the groupings represent a range of abilities, and the students work together, supporting each other and bring their particular strengths to the learning situation or process. This could be classified as Cooperative learning which is situated within the social constructivist paradigm where the learners work on projects or problems in teams and where there is both personal and team accountability for conceptual understanding.
My teaching encourages citizenship and social conscience. Most aspects of our learning includes or touches on components of the importance of being caring future citizens, and developing the students understanding and tolerance of the bi-cultural and multi-cultural nature of their school and their world. Recognising, respecting and celebrating the uniqueness of others is part of everyday learning.
I believe that it my responsibility as a teacher to be up to date with the latest teaching and learning methods and that I myself need to learn together with students. I need to model my own passion and love of learning.
Through these kinds of learning experiences, my goal is that students will develop self-awareness and confidence in themselves as learners. I want students to be proud of themselves as learners. I believe that as a teacher, I have a responsibility to support and help student to become confident decision makers and risk takers who feel excited about participating in new learning experiences and creating new knowledge.
References: Caine, R.N., & Caine, G. (1991). Making connections: Teaching and the human brain. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.