Roger Pickering：Teaching Techniques
特聘英国Hopwood Hall College讲师 教育学硕士
The following introduction is to outline the goal of the following areas of learning in my 15 years plus of teaching experience: that is, to point out various techniques / methods I have used within the classroom environment to elicit a productive learning response from students. The principle aim of teaching is to get across what is to be taught, effectively, to the student. If this is achieved, then the lesson in question may be deemed a success. Should lesson objectives fail to be achieved for one reason or another, the lesson can be reasonably judged as a failure & should then be reflected on to detect what went wrong, & what can be amended for better effect.
Not only can lessons be learned in future for the teacher, but also more time effective & learning effective techniques can be developed by the teacher for the benefit of both teacher & student alike. In writing about the following teaching techniques which have developed with me over my teaching experience, I am still learning & growing as time goes on with each successive teaching term. In writing about the techniques, it has helped to verbalize, reflect on, itemize, & set out in more concrete terms the various methods used which have grown & developed over time.
As the same class of students can vary from day to day, both collectively & individually, all teaching techniques are subject to constant scrutiny. Satisfactory student learning is paramount, & techniques are constantly assessed as to what works for the students during that lesson at that particular time & what can continue to be used effectively, &/or improved.
Lastly, it is worthwhile remembering that the following items are not mutually exclusive. One category in this particular area of learning may well be seen to be suitably included in another area of learning, i.e. ‘Props’ could also be included within the Communication area of learning, & items in Communication might be equally suitable in Teaching Techniques. There will be overlapping areas, as the reader may decide for her/himself.
1.2 Lesson Planning
This is the bedrock of teaching, as without clear planning, clear teaching is just not possible. It follows that class objectives will probably be affected adversely, which results in less than optimum performance for both the teacher & students. Clarity of purpose is the key. On certain occasions when I have entered the classroom without being fully planned, due to a last minute change in lesson material, or covering for a teacher at the last minute, I have experienced a lack of focus at times during the lesson.
(Analysis of Learning & evidence) I know how to distinguish what might be a less than satisfactory experience at the lesson’s conclusion, when reviewing the lesson’s objectives. I recall one lesson when I covered for a teacher who had not shown up for his lesson due to confusing his timetable. I volunteered to cover for him without any lesson planning as such. Fortunately, I was familiar with the text book, yet not with the students, nor where they had quite studied to exactly to. Although the lesson went relatively smoothly considering the situation, I felt the unit’s goal could have been better achieved through having an adequate lesson plan set out in adequate advance. This was a critical learning experience for me. The stress of the moment is something better avoided, as it can impede judgement & timing of the development of the lesson, i.e. its smooth running & progression. Learning has been experienced here regarding the importance of good planning. Attention to planning has also been used in the yoga classes I have taught, & is conferrable to other goal orientated tasks in companies.
Be clear on what is to be taught in the lesson, the amount to be taught, the language points, & how to go about teaching the material. I have found it of great help to actually annotate the text book itself, which then serves as the actual lesson plan. I have found that when the text book is visually written in, rather than having the points to be made on a separate piece of paper, then the points are always in direct view of the teacher. Pieces of lesson plan paper can all too easily be misplaced during the lesson as it progresses. Furthermore, once commencing teaching, I find that I become so focused on the text & students’ responses, that it is at times difficult to remember other texts, i.e. the teaching plan itself, unless visual prompts are written in the textbook. This is due to the absorption of the moment rather than any lapses of attention or plain forgetfulness. Learning has been experienced here & capitalized on to good effect.
Supplementary & supporting material is extremely helpful & at times crucial, to enhance the learning process, increase enjoyment of the lesson through differing material, & therefore the student will retain information better. I have found that students appreciate a break from the core textbook, as it gives them a sometimes welcome change, varies the focus of attention, & can vary the pacing of the class. Evidence of this can be seen in the favourable response from the students. At times, certain students have requested more extra-textbook material (evidenced on 13.10.08 in the LJ), yet the curriculum has to be adhered to & thus such requests cannot be easily accommodated.
(Analysis of Learning) Based on the above points, I am able to select & edit appropriate material for a class based on students’ ability & accompanying texts. Using this knowledge of selection, I can then synthesise the skill for other areas. I chose an appropriate program for yoga students according to their ability in the academic year 2008 – 2009.
1.4 Time Planning
Both the text & amount of material to be taught in the class are to be determined within the allowed class time. Realistic time expectations should be allowed, along with the ideal time. This might be an extra 5 minutes added on to the end of the ideal timing estimate, depending on the length of the material to be covered & the responsiveness of the particular students.
Additional/supplementary material should also be considered within the time framework. I have personally found that lesson / material timing is one of the most testing aspects of a lesson, as it is tantamount to keeping several factors going simultaneously, & having them all come to an end at their estimated time. A critical factor here is the anticipated response of the students. This can influence the course of the lesson in a way that at times, has to be dealt with on the spot. Here, the teacher has to exercise discretion as to what is of most importance; time, course, & student considerations.
(Analysis of Learning) From the above, I can calculate the approximate time of teaching a text based on students’ ability, text, & additional material. I can evaluate the causes there will/may be further time needed, & can review the outcome for improvement & future implementation.
1.5 Materials & Props
When plotting out the lesson, the teacher should note any points in the text where props, i.e. real items, can be introduced to illustrate & stimulate student attention & response. This could take the form of bringing in a pair of walking boots when the lesson centres on travel or trekking, to some snacks if the lesson is based on food, or one or two CD/MP3s if the lesson’s theme is on music, on so on. Student participation & comments should always be encouraged to expand on communication & interaction
(even extra material in the form of photocopies may be included in this category). I try to involve the other senses for learning where appropriate.
There have been times when I have taken in various props, e.g. MP3 players, photos, novels, to pieces of clothing in order to catch the students’ attention, & therefore draw them more into the lesson at hand. This may seem ‘gimmicky’, yet my view is, if something achieves the intended goal, then it is worthwhile, i.e. if it stimulates attention, it works. Further to this, language is used to convey not only information, but information of experience, & what could be more experiential than items which we experience in phenomenal existence? It is also a method of involving more than just the sense of listening, but also the visual element; most important in the experiential field.
(Analysis of Learning) I have learned that materials & props for engaging interest is conducive to effecting the learning process. The more the interest, the more the learning stimulus response, as demonstrated in Gagne’s Hierarchy of Learning (1970) & Skinner’s Programmed Learning (1954 & 1958). I know how to select appropriate materials (visual, verbal & aural) to provide a greater degree of interest.
Other means of imparting the material clearly with extra devices are through the means of ‘sight’: overhead projectors, Powerpoint & overhead projectors; & ‘sound’: tapes & CDs to facilitate listening skills. Try to involve the other senses for learning where appropriate (even extra material in the form of photocopies may be included in this category).
I have found on so many occasions that class interest is almost invariably increased when the above tools are used. This is displayed during daily lessons when the students’ response is enlivened when implementing the above methods.
(Analysis of Learning) I know that, as with props, use of suitable equipment for audio & visual learning is crucial for better student engagement. Some possibilities have been outlined above. Thus equipment & props are similar in kind to stimulating attention & cognitive factors in Observational Learning, as in Bandura’s view (1974); also Skinner’s Programmed Learning.
What are the students’ individual levels? What sort of students are to be taught? Are they serious (as in studious & not given to humour), or are they lively? Are they more passive, or more active? Do they tend towards receptive or productive skills? What are their interests? What are their tendencies? What are their strong/weak points? How can these skills be optimized? Will it be more productive to pair weaker students with stronger ones, or does this kind of pairing show some undesired effects when individual skill levels are too different? All these above points should be taken into account to tailor make a more personalized delivery of the lesson to the students.
(Analysis of Learning) I have learned that putting together students when levels are too different can be de-motivating for the more advanced learner. The same can be applicable for the weaker learner. Thus I can assess which students can learn together efficiently through choosing relatively mild differences in ability & temperament.
This is a crucial factor for the teacher, as it may be necessary to modify the teaching approach actually during the teaching process in the lesson, due to an unanticipated response from the students. This may take the form of veering off the set material for a short period in order to stimulate student response, then slowly work our way back to attention to the text material, always with the lesson objective in mind. All the time, the teacher should be constantly aware, constantly monitoring the course of the class, from beginning to end.
(Analysis of Learning) During my years of teaching experience, I have found the acute awareness of the classroom experience has always had the inescapable effect of keeping the teacher constantly on his / her toes; making multitasking, in terms of on the spot monitoring & consequent immediate judgements, of tailoring the next section of the lesson to have a bias to either a certain emphasis on a language item, or on either a section of material or a certain section of lesser responsive students. This phenomenon arises as a matter of course with me to a degree which is not of the same intensity away from the teaching experience. This is due to when teaching, the teacher is ‘on show’ & under constant observation by the students, & thus the teacher cannot afford to have any lapses of concentration during the total length of the lesson. The after effects can be quite draining.
Interest should be constantly kept in mind with the teacher. When there is interest, there is improved learning & retention of knowledge. When interest is low, then student involvement will also suffer, resulting in a less successful all-round lesson.
(Analysis of Learning) The ‘What, Why, How’ paradigm can be used in such cases, i.e. What is to be taught; Why is it to be taught? How can it be made to provoke interest? Use of different equipment can help to stimulate & provoke interest, as well as correctly aimed questioning & extending student responses in a controlled & directed manner. Evidence of the effects of lack of interest can be seen in the LJ, dated 16.10.08 & 18.10.08.
How do the students feel with the material? What is the response to questioning, when guiding students’ attention to the text? Are answers generally speedy or laboured? If the answers are quick enough, well & good. Students & teacher can then proceed to work through the set material at pace suitable to the students’ level & receptivity.
If the responses are laboured, the teacher can guide the students away from the text for a moment with some questions regarding why they are not replying too quickly, & see what the response may be. Either this, or try a different line of questioning, or pair students up to have a brief warm up talk regarding the text about to be studied & the theme of it. Once the ice has started to thaw, the teacher may then guide students through the material at a more measured pace.
(Analysis of Learning) The main learning here regarding receptivity, is used to keep the students engaged in the lesson. The reasons are as outlined in 1.5 & 1.6.
1.11 Summing up
This teacher has found that it is usually a good exercise in reflection for the students, to sum up what has been learned in the lesson. It refreshes the memory of students’ collective & individual experience during the course of the lesson. This can help students marshal their thoughts on the language items practiced.
This can then focus students on the next part of the text to be studied, either later that day, or the next day, etc., & allow a certain section of time for the process of osmosis to take place. This normally takes place during sleep, yet when what has been learned is clearly pointed out, it is hoped that the processing in the brain can be helped in the course of events.
(Analysis of Learning) I usually remind students through questioning them, what has been learned in the lesson, as stated above. Students are then clearer on exactly what has been covered, & exactly how clear they are about it. I especially use this method at the end of the current yoga course which I teach, as the postures to be learned are of a much narrower field than any language, & therefore the constituent parts of the set are more easily remembered & fitted together in a gradual manner.
Finally, the process of reflection should take place with the teacher. The process of reflection on the course of the lesson, & what lessons can be learned by the teacher for smoother teaching through amendments to future lessons. If there were hiccups during the lesson, note them down & reflect on what they were, why they happened, & how they can be avoided in future. If the lesson went well, then the teacher should reflect on in what way it went well, why it went well, & how can the process/formula be repeated in differing forms (to avoid a formulaic repetition) before further amendments have to be implemented.