Understanding my Students’ Needs

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What is unique about teaching primary classes? Granted, it is a lot of fun teaching young minds, but there is another essential aspect of working with young kids. Be it math or language; this is the time to lay the foundations of learning.

I believe in building a strong foundation in the primary classes.

As you introduce new topics, you have to review previous lessons to learn and retain the information. Pop-quiz session is a fun way to start the class and touch upon the basics. It is both an easy and engaging way to review the topic. Teachers can spot the students who haven’t grasped the concepts thoroughly, allowing them to plan their reviews. I can hear groans about the lack of time, but this is a time-saver, especially when reviewing lessons with your class the day before assessments.

For instance, in Maths, children enjoy quick oral sums done at a rapid pace. From there, they get ready for more complex problems.  The same goes for languages. Start by checking their basic grammar, spelling, synonyms, and other integral building blocks of language. When left loose or vacant, these building blocks will cause the future structure to be wobbly and weak. I believe in building a strong foundation in the primary classes.

All individuals tend to assume things. Despite our training as teachers cautioning us not to, we make assumptions about where we should begin our teaching and set goals to reach the finish line. When we let go of these preconceived targets or bases, we might have better outcomes! When I entered my new job, I assumed that the school authorities and staff believed and followed the same mindset. 

Sadly enough, at the new school, I discovered a discrepancy in my expectations and reality. My students’ education was riddled with gaps. It took me some time to realise it and get about setting it right. I am more sanguine now because it seems common for schools to rush through the curriculum without strengthening the core skills. The students continue from class to class without really understanding all the concepts taught, and there is no systematic approach to seal the cracks. 

My students didn’t differentiate between a noun and a verb. I couldn’t wrap my head around that they went through so many years of schooling and still be vague about such a fundamental concept in language development. It was an eye-opener for me! From then on, I told myself never to assume what the student knew based on age or class. Instead, I started by consolidating the foundation skills. I believe a teacher’s job is never complete until every child in the class gets their fundamental skills right. Understanding my students’ needs helped me plan my lessons accordingly.

I have found value in keeping an open mind.

Children’s background and exposure play a significant role in their learning process; With this in mind, the teacher should provide children many opportunities to learn and retain the lessons.

Parents make assumptions too. I noticed that many parents, especially in the rural areas, assume that their child may not be capable of doing the job or assignment. Therefore, they do the work themselves, not realising that their over protectiveness adversely affects the child’s self-confidence. Parents should desist from interfering in the child’s learning process; they can assist minimally, encourage their children when they’ve done well, or finish on time. Anything beyond that hinders or distorts the child’s progress.

A significant part of my job was working with parents to recognize their role in their child’s education. When parents noticed that the child had not grasped a portion of the subject, I directed them to let the concerned teacher know. If their concern was the other way around and they felt that their child received less stimulation or challenges, I encouraged them to provide avenues to expand their perceptions and knowledge.

Overall, I have had to adjust my thinking and expectations working in a rural school in India. I have found value in keeping an open mind.

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