I have a syllabus that is predetermined, which sets out the units that the student has to cover. However, I try to offer the sessions using a methodology that is based on my students and my ideas. The Domain that I work in is ‘one to one teaching’. The student I teach is aged 16 years old and has varied learning difficulties that cause problems with communication skills, occasional physical co-ordination skills, high anxiety levels and low self-esteem. This is the common denominator for the majority of students from within the foundation area, coupled with emotional and personal problems.
The student has a foundation background but is at present following a year’s mainstream vocational course in Health and Social Care. She has full time one to one support to enable her to do this, but this can at times make her feel very ‘different’ from the rest of the group. All students are unique with a variety of distinct personalities and a diversity in learning techniques, which means that each learner has to be taught in a way that they can understand.
I use a variety of teaching methods with the student. The paradigm or pattern set out is the framework of the students learning and the methodology or procedure used is via the college guidelines and my own learning. It is also the way that I approach the lessons and work with the student. ‘As far as the actual learning processes are concerned, there is no doubt that both younger and older adults will respond much better to methods that encourage active involvement in their own learning’. (Walklin 1990 p16).
The epistemology or information within the paradigm is the advice the student receives and explanations regarding the revision course tasks that are to be completed. The student then has the time and the opportunity to comprehend what is required of them. The student is able to ask questions and can then put the theory into practice. The behaviorist approach also covers the above in the sense that the student is given different types of reinforcement to encourage effective remembering (i. e. previous subjects).
The student knows exactly what it is that she has to do and this is arranged in a series of step by step instructions. Positive feedback and encouragement is given to the student constantly throughout the session, and when the student lacks motivation I overcome this by either finding a task that the student enjoys and that will cover the subject matter or negotiate with the student. The student and I ‘both need to be committed to a process of consultation and negotiation on content and mode of learning’. (Walklin 1990 p17).
I always allow time for the student to finish what she is doing before we move on. Successful completion of a task gives the student positive reinforcement through improving her confidence, increasing her awareness that relevant learning has taken place, and allowing time for praise and encouragement. However saying that, I do not like to control the situation in a way that prohibits the student from expression and freedom. I feel that the student should be able to make her own choices and decisions as much as possible, and I am aware that she might need help to express herself.
During my sessions I sit close to the student and at the same level. I maintain a quiet, gentle; reassuring approach that I feel is appropriate to ‘one to one’ teaching. In the cognitive domain the student is able to interpret information given and make sense of it in a way that she will understand. I always ensure at the end of each session that the student and I have some time for reflective thinking and feedback. The student that I work with needs to know exactly what she will be covering over the session, so that she can process and organize that information in her own mind.
She prefers individual short packets of information being completed, practised and achieved before moving on to the next, otherwise the information given is forgotten. ‘It would seem that people learn by memorising, understanding and doing or a combination of these three’. (Walklin 1990 p19). If the student has difficulties with understanding words and meanings I have tried to explain them using visual strategies and this has helped her learning. In order to retain the information and be able to feed it back to me, the student has needed to have regular periods of recap throughout the course and a degree of oral, visual or written prompts.
I value the students’ feedback as to how she is dealing with the work set and my teaching methods, and any feedback given is noted for the next lesson. The humanist approach is probably the one that I feel is of most use and try to use with my student. I give her the time and freedom to express her thoughts and feelings, even though this can be quite difficult for her to do. I do encourage the student to think for herself as much as possible, as I feel that this is fundamental to the students’ learning and progress in life.
I think that it is important to generate a comfortable working environment and ensure that the student does not feel threatened or overwhelmed in the classroom situation. We worked on an assessment quiz in the first session and covered the same quiz in the last session, in order to evaluate the learning that had taken place. Before the student did the quiz for the second time, I recapped on the first session and asked the student how she had felt done and how she could improve on it.
The purpose of this was to make the student relate her learning to her own personal experience. The affective domain is where I encourage my student to problem solve through practice and discover outcomes and answers for herself. We discuss subject choices, work to be undertaken at home and problematic areas, and this is often student led as opposed to tutor led. In this way I am giving the student the time to express her feelings and views and valuing what she has to say, which will instill confidence and self worth.
The tutor has to not only teach the syllabus but be prepared to listen to opinions and experiences that sometimes may not be related to the task at hand but has a value in that social skills and communication skills are exchanged and learnt. In accordance with that, the student has the chance to set realistic aims, with help and advice from me when required. Equal opportunities are obviously provided to the student that I work with, inclusive education is regardless of sex, gender, religion or special needs. The student will develop her knowledge, understanding and skill by practice of what she is taught and being able to re-assess her work.
Thinking about what she has learnt and identifying her achievements at the end of the course, has hopefully improved her communication and increased her confidence. Both of these have been an integral part of the overall aims of my short course, and go alongside the learning that has taken place. The taxonomy or classification is the Math’s GCSE Intermediate syllabus. The student has been working on ‘Revision of Specific Areas’ and is hoping to achieve a grade C in the November resit exam. The student has needed to work within a framework that is supportive and offers advice.
The student is what I would call a passive learner, she feels that she is a poor achiever and knows that she is ‘different’. Past learning experiences have not always given the student the feel good factor or increased her confidence, and because of this the student will often try to say that she is not capable of something. All of this can cause anxiety, depression and extremely low self-esteem. On account of this I have been very sensitive with my assessment strategies, not wishing to undermine what I am teaching the student to be which is an ‘active learner’.