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Unit 2: The Child

Page history last edited by knc190@... 9 years, 10 months ago

Unit 2: The Child

Guiding Questions

•    What challenges do students bring to the classroom? 
•    What teacher actions support the learning and development of ALL students despite these challenges?  What teacher actions are potentially detrimental to the learning and development of students, considering these challenges?

•    What does the ideal classroom look like?
•    What teaching strategies can a teacher use tomorrow in his or her classroom to improve student learning and become more child-friendly?

 

When developing this unit remember the 7 components of child-friendly schools:

1) Being proactively inclusive

2) Advocating Human Rights

3) Being academically effective

4) Being healthy and safe

5) Being gender responsive

          6) Being actively engaged with the community. (Resource 02)

 

 

What challenges do students bring to the classroom?

RATIONALE:  Just as teachers have lives outside of the classroom that impact their focus and success as teachers, students too are impacted by their lives outside of school.  Life at home and situations in the community can make it difficult for children to focus on learning.  Child-friendly schools work to create an environment that makes school a place where ALL students, despite what they might face outside of school, feel safe, are cared for, and are encouraged to be actively engaged in their learning. Before teachers and schools can do this, however, it is important to be aware of the multitude of vulnerabilities that children may bring to the classroom.

 

This puts a lot of pressure on teachers and schools because every child is different and some children, and often entire communities, face real hardships that make it difficult to make education the primary focus.   Unit 1 focuses on the teacher and his or her mindset and well-being.  Having a good command of these things is critical because a teacher faces the daily challenge of meeting the needs of each student in the classroom – not an easy task.  In this first section of Unit 2, the group will consider the ideal conditions for learning, the vulnerabilities that children face that make this difficult (in their communities specifically) and will learn strategies for creating welcoming, loving, inclusive environments for their students. 

 

RESEARCH:

In Child-Friendly Schools "children are encouraged to participate in the management of the school and in the decision-making process.  They are active members of the School Council and take part in the child-to-child sanitation committees.  Through these activities, they:

  • Feel motivated to learn
  • Become more self-confident
  • Develop self-esteem
  • Learn more both inside and outside the classroom
  • Participate actively in their communities knowing their rights in and outside the school"

(Resource 29, Mozambique Child-Friendly Schools For Africa, United Nations Chidren's Fund)

 

 

What teacher actions support the learning and development of ALL students despite these challenges?  What teacher actions are potentially detrimental to the learning and development of students, considering these challenges?

RATIONALE:

This question exists to expand teachers' view of their role.  Many teachers have a narrow view of their role and do not realize that beyond the delivery of content, a smile, a "How are you?" and "Nice job!" can really make a difference. 

 

RESEARCH:

The IRC's Healing Classroom Initiative nicely outlines some key positive and negative factors that can impact student learning:

 

Promoting Student Well-Being

Outside of providing help in subject learning, students value teachers who support them personally. Trusted teachers can promote student well-being by providing:

  • Advice about emotional concerns and problems: For example, when pressures to drop out of school are intense, teachers can help students tremendously by encouraging them to stay in school. Teachers can also give information on reproductive health and other life skills, or intervene on the student's behalf in problems with parents. Teachers can often play the role of counselor and mentor for children and youth navigating transitions to adulthood.

  • Reassurance and motivation for the future : Teachers motivate students by encouraging them to study hard and to stay in school or other learning programs. This kind of help impacts students positively, especially when they receive little positive feedback from other adults. Likewise, teachers can talk about the importance of good behavior as well as model it in the way they live their own lives. For example, talking about and exhibiting good manners, getting along with others, using sound decision-making skills and resolving conflicts peacefully makes teachers a powerful force for helping students become better people and more productive members of their community.

 

Negatively Impacting Student Well-Being

Unfortunately, students often experience teachers whose behaviors and actions negatively impact their lives. Here are some of the ways that teachers do not help to promote student well-being in crisis-affected contexts:

  • Poor teaching: Teachers not showing up for class negatively impacts students' well-being. Likewise, students are frustrated by weak or incompetent teachers who may show up but do not help them learn. When teachers have inaccurate or insufficient knowledge in core subject areas, their notes are hard to read or understand, and/or when lessons are confusing or poorly presented, students suffer. Students are also upset and disappointed when teachers do not let them ask questions, or when teachers have no patience for explaining confusing material.

  • Unequal treatment: When teachers give attention to specific students or neglect other students because of their gender, ability or other distinguishing characteristics, students notice; and this impacts their well-being. Providing unequal instruction or treating students differently based on their characteristics is confusing to students and diminishes their sense of control and self-worth in the classroom. When all students are given equal instruction and attention, they feel valued and accepted as equal members of the class.

  • Violence and abuse: Harsh corporal punishment is a reality for far too many students, as are other forms of abuse. Quite understandably, students describe being hurt and upset by teachers who beat them. Verbal abuse (for example, being shouted at, insulted or mocked) is also damaging. Students especially resent punishment that sends them outside class. At those times students often feel that missing the lessons they value so keenly is a double punishment. Students have a strong sense of justice and resent unfair teacher punishment; disadvantaged youth in particular can be further marginalized by violent or abusive behavior used by teachers. Likewise, students are upset by teachers who are erratic and inconsistent in their treatment of students.

 

 

Teachers negatively impact student well-being further through these professional malpractices:

  • Financial exploitation: Teachers offering students good grades in exchange for money or demanding payments for additional learning materials also negatively impacts the lives of children and youth. Students may even be forced to pay for extra classes to make up for lessons that teachers have purposely made confusing! Yet learning and success in school are so important to children and youth that they feel intense pressure to accept such terrible conditions.

  • Sexual abuse and exploitation: Teachers' sexual advances and manipulation of students, especially female students, is highly disturbing. Exploited students may have lifelong emotional scars. Students not directly affected often know it is happening, and this awareness can create general distrust and lack of respect for the teacher. As a result, students may feel uncomfortable about requesting any assistance. Students may also feel conflicted about speaking out against what they know is wrong versus remaining silent to protect themselves. In addition, students may feel resentful of extra attention being given to certain students who are known to be in sexual relationships with teachers.

 

Needs of Children and Youth
Possible Interventions on the Part of the Teacher that Positively Influence Student Well-Being
Possible Interventions on the Part of the Teacher that Negatively Influence Student Well-Being
Sense of Belonging
  • Educational structure where children and youth feel included
  • Restoration of family and community-based cultural, traditional practices of childcare, whenever possible
  • Opportunities for children and  youth to engage in community and civic affairs
  • Failure to recognize individual children and youth and to help them feel a part of a "learning community" in the class or school
Sense of Control
  • Opportunities for children and youth to complete regular and manageable assignments to promote a sense of accomplishment and give children and youth a sense of control over part of their lives
  • Unpredictable and erratic attendance, poor quality of lessons with no planning and continuity
  • Unpredictable and erratic classroom management - with irregular disciplinary methods
Feelings of Self-Worth
  • Opportunities for expression through discussions, drawing, writing, drama, music
  • Recognize, encourage and praise children and youth
  • Derisive or discriminatory comments to individuals or to groups of children and youth
  • Low expectations of different children and youth
  • Scorn and abuse of children and youth who have difficulties in their learning
Relationships with Peers
  • Provide a dependable, interactive routine through school or other organized educational activity
  • Offer group and team activities (e.g., sports, drama) that require cooperation and interdependence and encourage collaborative learning
  • Lessons (e.g., lecture and question/answer) that do not engage children and youth in active, collaborative learning
  • Teachers who focus only on subject content and ignore the need of children and youth for life skills, including, for example, conflict resolution
Personal Attachments
  • Recruit teachers who can form appropriate caring relationships with children and who, as leaders in their communities, support families and others to care for children
  • Provide opportunities for social integration and unity by teaching and showing respect for all cultural values, regardless of differing backgrounds
  • Teachers who are cruel, detached and/or unbothered by the children's overall well-being
  • Teachers who teach only from the textbook with  no attempts to contextualize or to relate the learning to the lives and culture of the children
Intellectual Stimulation
  • Enhance child development by providing a variety of educational experiences
  • Repetitive lessons and never-changing teaching style that does not engage the students in active learning
Sense of Safety
  • Sign and adhere to a Teacher Code of Conduct
  • Ensure that the physical space is free from weapons, landmines or other risks
  • Using corporal punishment

 

 

What does the ideal classroom look like?

RATIONALE:  This is a very tangible and practical place to begin.  Teachers can think about their ideal classroom - this may include better resources, a different feeling, or a different appearance.  Teachers may also identify attributes of their classes that they think make it an ideal classroom.  As a trainer, it is important to be prepared to ask questions and challenge teachers' thinking if they identify qualities that go against the child-friendly model such as: Why do you believe that makes an ideal classroom?  What if the classroom looked like ______? 

 

RESEARCH:

p. 24 of the UNESCO Toolkit for Creating Inclusive, Learning-Friendly Environments 

  Traditional Classroom
Inclusive, learning-friendly classroom
Relationships   
Distant (the teacher addresses students with her back towards them)

Friendly and warm.  The teacher sits next to and smiles at the child with a hearing impairment.  The parent-helper praises this child and assists other children.

 

Who is in the classroom?
The teacher as well as students with quite similar abilities.
The teacher, students with a wide range of backgrounds and abilities, and others such as the parent-helper
Seating Arrangement
Identical seating arrangements in every classroom (all children seated at desks in rows; girls on one side of the room, boys on the other)
Different seating arrangements, such as girls and boys sitting together on the floor in two circles or sitting together at tables
Learning Materials
Textbook, exercise book, chalkboard for teacher
Variety of materials for all subjects such as math materials made from newspapers, or posters and puppets for language class
Resources
The teacher is interacting with children without using any additional teaching materials.
The teacher plans a day in advance for the class.  S/he involves the children in bringing learning aids to the class, and these aids do not cost anything.
Evaluation
Standard written examinations.
Authentic assessment; Observations; Samples of children's work over time such as portfolios 

 

 

What teaching strategies can a teacher use tomorrow in his or her classroom to improve student learning and become more child-friendly?

RATIONALE:

It would be impossible to provide teachers with every possible classroom strategy that they could use to make their classroom more child-friendly. This training will focus on the classroom environment discussed above, teacher behaviors, and then a handful of child-friendly teaching strategies that can make a lesson more student-centered and less teacher-centered.

 

RESEARCH:

Teaching styles for active learning  (Great activity at the end of this information - for the training!)

This resource divides learning into three categories:

-Active learning

-Direct teaching

-Independent Learning

 

Teaching styles for active learning

 

By creating a mixture of different learning opportunities, we can help children encounter new information, develop skills, try out ideas, and build knowledge.

To accomplish this, we may employ a mixture of teaching styles.

 

Important modes of teaching and learning can include:

 

Learning in groups

When learners work in pairs and small groups, they can engage in communicating ideas, in co-operating to accomplish goals, in peer review of each other's work, and in coaching.

  • Children of different abilities can be grouped together to participate in projects and activities, and to create opportunities for peer mentoring and coaching. Children of different abilities may also have different aptitudes and talents, so that one member of a group may assist the others with writing, while another represents the group's work in pictures.
  • Children of similar abilities can be grouped together, especially in multigrade classrooms. Members of a reading group, for example, might read a certain story individually, then meet to address a list of questions and to share their reactions to the story. At the same time, a group reading at a different level may read and discuss a different story.
  • Children with similar interests can be grouped together. In a geography activity, for example, one group may be composed of learners who want to study southern Africa, while another may be interested in Latin America.
  • Be sure to create with the class a set of guidelines for communicating and co-operating in groups. Such guidelines may cover making sure that everyone has a chance to talk, criticising constructively instead of destructively, and finding ways to analyse the work of others.

For one idea about a group-based learning activity, go to Observing the sugar cane plant.

For ideas about promoting co-operation, visit Co-operative learning.


Direct teaching

Direct teaching is a familiar practice, in which the teacher addresses the class (or a large group) by lecturing, reading, leading recitation, or demonstrating techniques.

  • Teachers read to the class or demonstrate skills to introduce new information. Direct teaching is an efficient way to introduce the whole class (or a large group in a multigrade class) to new concepts, information or skills.
  • Teachers guide children's thinking by asking questions and posing examples. In a reading class, for example, a teacher may read a story, then begin discussion by asking thought-provoking questions.
  • It's a fine teaching strategy to introduce a new activity or lesson by helping children list what they already know about a subject.
  • For example, in a science unit about the seasons, we can ask the class to name the seasons and to describe them, and to guess about what causes seasonal change. We can then read or describe the ways the Earth's revolution around the sun affects the seasons, before outlining a research project in weather observation for small groups to explore.
  • Direct instruction can connect us and our classes to other, more active ways of encountering information and building knowledge.
  • Teachers lead recitation of key facts and information, sometimes as a way of reviewing knowledge that children have already gained.
  • The best teachers understand that a little direct teaching goes a long way. Listening and watching are passive ways of learning, and it requires great mental skill to translate what we see and what we hear into knowledge. Most children learn best when they learn through action.


Independent learning

As children mature they become more able to work and learn independently - this means that they are motivated to learn, they focus on specific tasks, and they have the skills and resources that they need to complete assignments.

Independent learning may mean that children read books, or write stories on their own, and draw illustrations. They may concentrate on mathematics exercises. They may even perform research, arrange information, and create a report or presentation on a specific topic.

In some primary classes, teachers institute "choice time," a period in the daily or weekly schedule when children explore learning resources on their own. They may read books, play with mathematics games, build models from found materials, or work on art projects.

Many of us feel pressed to finish an overloaded syllabus, so implementing choice time can be difficult. But it's a very rewarding way to move toward more child-centred ways of teaching.

Try short periods and a number of independent choices to begin with. In other instances, you may want to prepare exercises, reading, and other assignments that children can work on and complete.

 

We can encourage self-directed, independent learning in our classes by:

 

  • creating a learning environment that supports curiosity and focused activity
  • collecting resources, such as picture books, dictionaries, math manipulatives, and others
  • connecting new information to information that has been learned previously
  • inventing assignments and learning activities that are meaningful to the learners involved
  • ensuring that learners are not afraid to try out their ideas and to explore the unknown

All the skills that children need to learn independently also help them learn in groups.

 

Multiple ways that students learn:http://www.unicef.org/teachers/

 

The classroom space: http://www.unicef.org/teachers/

 

 Training Guide - Unit 2: The Child

 

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