We have a couple of new intake students after the summer break. These students are more fidgety than our regulars; they have not yet been trained. This is an interesting question; if our classes are so engaging, why do students need to be trained to cope?
After years of rigorous, traditional teaching in the typical lecture style students often can’t yet handle the freedom which comes with active learning. They are still young at 13 years old and have a surplus of energy. They don’t yet know the boundaries of such a class set up and so when the teacher allows downtime, they grab it with both hands as though they may never again get this same opportunity.
The children were engaged throughout the 2-hour class, with very few slight drops in concentration from only a couple of the 27 strong student body. The scaffolding was generally well thought through and executed. In one activity, the students faced one another in two lines. Having employed this technique in the first ever class I taught them, the difference is staggering. All the students are now calm, quiet and still. They are focused on the instructions and anticipating what will come next.
After class, our trainee comes over and points out all of the failings and areas on which to improve. I like this critical approach to teaching; to become stale and uninterested in what you could change or improve is to give up on the education of the next generation. Compared with the other teacher's class, our trainee's is far more engaged and gave both Van and I hope that our methods are working.
NEH Director of Studies and Teacher Trainer
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