In the medical field, there is a team of various professionals involved in any surgical procedure performed on a patient. There are surgeons, doctors, nurses, and anesthesiologists directly involved in the procedure, but there are also other members of the team involved in the important preparation but lesser known and acknowledged duties of the procedures. They need bedside caregivers and transport teams to assist the patient with routine preparation schedules. There are even other members of the team to assist as well when the front line team has difficulties or complications. They all collaborate with one other to make the patient’s personally inconvenient hospital visit as pleasant and comfortable as possible. Professionals in other fields have similar teams in which each member has a specific role and duty to perform, and they collaborate with one other to reach desired outcomes. Educators are no exception to the collaborative efforts. There is a team of administrators, lead teachers, assistant teachers, student leaders, parents, and students themselves who are all involved in the educational process and success of students of all ages and developmental levels. Each one of the members of the team is a learner and has the responsibility to gain knowledge and understanding in the learning process.
The teacher’s job is to model learning to her students. “Learning and leading are firmly linked” (Lambert, 54). Teachers are intense learners. When teachers model learning, their students begin to see the value of learning and the value of the content. Many students often see assignments and homework as busy work with no value or lasting impact to meet future needs and goals; therefore, teachers must learn along with their students to allow students to see the importance and application of the material. They must become teacher facilitators where they learn along side their students. When teachers engage students as leaders for other learners in the class, they become a team of learners working together. They form partnerships, and students feel a sense of ownership in their educational experiences. “A student leader is one who contributes to the world around her and understands her role in the community” (Lambert, 56). By employing student leaders, teachers share their roles and are able to meet more learner needs in the class.
By serving as class facilitators and partners in the learning process, teachers can incorporate various methods and techniques for students. They can observe student interests and how students learn best as well as areas for improvement and additional practice. Learners learn on different levels, with different styles, and through different techniques. Student learners allow teachers to meet the needs of the different learning styles. “To promote the success of all students, teachers must look at them as individuals and not as a group of thirty” (Beazley, 2013). Teachers are unable to write lesson plans to meet the learning needs of a large class of students. They must individualize their lesson plans to include focus areas for individual students. Some students may require remedial work in some content areas while other students may need to be challenged above the level of the class as a whole. Some students learn best through print material and grasp concepts through reading assignments while others require writing assignments or hands-on tactical approaches to learning. Each student deserves to be given fair amounts of learning methods and efforts. Teachers must remember that fair and equal are not the same (Falen, J, personal communication, January 2013). Fair is when students are given adequate chances to learn the material on their own levels. One student may grasp a concept on the first attempt, but another student may require multiple attempts and multiple methods. Fair is giving that student as many attempts needed.
On the pre-kindergarten level, students often require multiple approaches and methods to learning. The classrooms are arranged to accommodate these different learning styles and approaches to learning. There are learning centers in each classroom. Students begin the morning routine with circle time where they gather on the big carpet in the center of the room. They begin by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and then singing familiar songs. One song helps the students learn the sounds of the alphabet and phonics. Since many of the students respond well to letter sounds with this song, this approach is individualization for students to learn the sounds of the letters in their names. They learn to spell their names. They learn other words that begin with the same letter as their names. Relating the letters of the alphabet to their own names allows students to place some meaning to learning phonics. They first recognize the letters of their own names, and then they can learn to recognize all letters on flash cards. However, not all students respond as well to group sessions of learning on the carpet. Teachers and classroom facilitators must plan alternate methods for teaching the same concepts to meet the interests and styles of multiple students.
Some students are interested in and need movement activities. After the morning routine in circle time, students choose learning centers in the classroom where they are free to choose the blocks center, art center, math center, housekeeping center, or music center. The art center is a teacher-directed center where students can use paint to write letters of the alphabet. For those students who did not respond as well to the circle time phonics activity, they can paint letters of the alphabet. Teachers will feature one letter per week so students have five days to master one letter. They learn the shape of the letter. They learn the sound of the letter and objects that begin with the letter. They glue objects on the paper with the correct letter. Once again, group sessions and art are not always the best approaches to learning for some students. There must be a variety of learning techniques available for students.
Another learning technique and approach at the pre-kindergarten level is through the active block center. Blocks and cars often appeal to active, high-energy students. In this learning center, students will learn as much about letter sounds and phonics as the students who prefer the circle time session. They will construct letters using blocks and make that the roadway to drive the cars. They will construct letters using their own bodies on the floor. They will learn words that begin with different letters by having examples of the featured letter in that learning center for the week.
The teacher will know her different learning approaches are successful when she observes and assesses her students. One of the best assessments is observation. Students will exhibit their understanding of letter sounds and recognition as they learn through play and daily interactions with peers and recall information presented to them. Although young pre-kindergarten students do not respond well to direct questioning assessments, they show their knowledge and understanding through acting out lessons and topics. Student success happens when students take ownership of their own learning. The teacher knows her students understand and have accomplished the learning material and concepts when they speak it back to her and to classmates. Students will begin to teach and lead others in the class. Some students who have yet to grasp the material will learn from those lead students. It becomes a collaborative approach where all students learn from one another. Teachers will be successful in their approaches to learning “when they are intuitive about the needs of their students” (Welsetead, 2013).
Lambert, L. (2003). Leadership Capacity for Lasting School Improvement. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Beazley, J. (2013). Messages from the Field. Leadership in Education Administration. Minneapolis: Capella University.
Welsetead, C. (2013). Messages from the Field. Leadership in Education Administration. Minneapolis: Capella University