Teaching at all levels can be a tough task, but at the same time, it can be a gratifying job. It involves imparting knowledge on other people which helps to make their lives better and improve their general perception of the world. Being a teacher is more than giving theoretical knowledge; it involves teaching students about the bigger picture of life, responsibility, and achievement which make the society a better place. A teacher’s ideas, lesson plans, and passion can help students enjoy and love learning at all levels. That said, it is essential for teachers to understand their task and students to enable them to adapt teaching styles that work for the students that they teach. Students come from different backgrounds, religions, communities, and ethnicities, and so teachers should be aware that all students learn differently. To be an effective teacher, teachers should know each of their students’ strengths and weaknesses and consider formulating strategies to meet the needs of all students. This paper aims to focus on education at two levels- elementary school and high school. It will examine teaching strategies that teachers and educators should adopt in terms of teaching approaches, discipline and behavior, and parental involvement in these two settings.
Teachers adopt different strategies when it comes to teaching elementary schools. The most common teaching approaches that have been proven to be effective in teaching elementary classes turare described as follows:
Many teachers use demonstration to assist their students in comprehending materials, and this approach has been proven effective no matter their learning styles. One way to accomplish this is through showing rather than telling. Teachers can use visual materials such as charts, pictures, and vivid images to explain concepts for elementary students (Stichter et al. 12). When it comes to subjects like mathematics, elementary students require support and practice. Teachers should use practical demonstrations to introduce new concepts and take their students through well-guided exercises to enable them to practice independently.
Students in elementary school learn best using hands-on activities. For instance, elementary students will find it challenging to understand multiplication if teachers theoretically explain it to them. On the other hand, if they practically begin to experiment and practice with multiplication, they will better understand and recall how they should tackle it.
The traditional style of lecture is a standard and formal method of teaching that is effective. The teacher assumes the position of an expert and provides knowledge and facts to students. Students will take notes as the lecture continues. This method is especially beneficial before conducting tests because it helps students to recall essential topics and helps them to organize a review chart to study (Stichter et al. 18). This method may, however, be challenging for visual students because they learn through seeing as opposed to listening.
This method involves pairing up students for a classroom activity or project. This method is beneficial because it inspires students to collaborate and work together. It enhances collaborative problem-solving, interactive learning, and communication skills. The technique is also useful in determining the areas that students find challenging and the ones that they are stronger in (Stichter et al. 22). Collaboration should always be followed by group discussions which allow students to talk about their findings and perceptions. It shows the teacher precisely what students discussed and how they collaborated.
Discipline and classroom behavior procedures
Teachers often find themselves in situations where students disrespect each other or are uncooperative. Teachers should address these indisciplined behaviors before they become more significant problems that will negatively impact the entire class. An efficient way to do this is to use a few simple behavior management techniques that will assist in promoting appropriate behavior in class. These include:
Research shows that the success of behavioral change lies in determining the exact conditions that prompt the behavior. Teachers should keenly observe the classroom conditions which are likely to cause or reinforce negative behavior (Stichter et al. 44). They should then use this information to design effective intervention methods that respond to the needs of specific students within the classroom.
Many classroom interventions aimed at decreasing negative behavior alter or do away with factors that cause or reinforce them. Negative behaviors can be as a result of a clash between academic demands and the classroom setting. Students’ strength, skills, or preferences can also trigger conflict within the classroom (Stichter et al. 45). Teachers can help reduce negative classroom behavior by rearranging the classroom environment, clearly stating the behavioral expectations, and revisiting learning activities and practices to effectively meet the needs of the students.
Teachers can also reinforce positive behavior and discipline in the class by setting standards and ensuring that students adhere to them. Teachers can implement effective punishment or reward strategies to deal with classroom behavior. For example, a student who is found misbehaving or making noise in class can be put on time out or made to perform class duty for the whole week. On the other hand, students who show discipline and positive behavior cabe rewarded through being given awards for the most disciplined or given recognition in the whole school. Teachers should also teach students behavioral and socially appropriate practices (Stichter et al. 47). By doing this, teachers increase the chances of students using these necessary skills, display positive classroom environments, and become responsible.
Research shows that parental involvement, especially in the early stages of learning, goes a long way in achieving positive academic outcomes. Research further indicates that the more active parents become involved in their children’s education, the more successful they become in academic achievement. The more effective forms of parental involvement are the ones that involve parents working directly with their children at home (Stichter et al. 65). Methods which include parents reading with students and supporting them in terms of homework assignments and tutoring them by using instructions and material provided in school have shown excellent academic results. Studies also show that when parents sign written notes from school, receive phone calls about their children from school, and attend teacher-parent meetings, there are greater benefits as compared with parents who are not involved at all. The earlier parental involvement begins in the educational process, the better the academic results.
Comparison and Contrast
From earlier experiences as a teacher, I have come to realize that demonstration and hands-on activities work better for students at the elementary level. I have also noticed that the traditional lecture style of teaching does not adequately help students in elementary school understand concepts. This situation is primarily because these students are not well-developed cognitively to interpret spoken word or to take notes. When the traditional lecture style is used, elementary school students tend to get bored and distracted. Parental involvement is also beneficial during elementary school. Parents are their children’s first teachers, and therefore students tend to be successful when they are supported and assisted with their parents.
It can be challenging for high school students to grasp and understand new and complicated concepts through mere explanations. Using visual aids to explain and organize disconnected ideas has proven to establish useful mastery, deeper, and long-term understanding of difficult concepts. Using visual aids such as charts, graphs, and figures is an excellent teaching strategy especially for literacy and reading initiatives (Stichter et al. 73). Using visualization techniques help high school students better understand, recall, and employ critical thinking strategies about the materials that they study.
In high school, teachers can use computers, digital cameras, tablets, and conferencing digital technologies to enhance the student learning experience. High school students are at an adolescent stage and technology, and new concepts appeal to their mental cognition. For example, teachers can use video games to enhance their mathematical skills and foreign languages. Similarly, high school teachers can use Skype or Google handouts to help students communicate and share ideas with guest speakers all around the world (Stichter et al. 88). However, teachers should take note that introducing new technologies in the classroom requires proper leadership from them. Offering tablets or laptops to students should be accompanied by teaching them methods of using the devices respectfully and only for educational purposes. To do this, teachers should:
High school teachers loathe a class full or black gazes or silence when they introduce a topic for class discussion. Allocating time for active learning is an excellent method to get the students talking, critically thinking, and brainstorming in class. The teacher can give a short overview of a topic and assign students the task such as answering questions after the topic or solving specific problems. They can divide the students in to small groups instructing them to conduct online research, discuss ideas, or examine ways to resolve the issues (Stichter et al. 90). At the end of the session, groups can share with the whole class about what they learned from each other and the methods they used to obtain solutions to the problems presented. This strategy ensures great collaboration among students and helps to understand better and memorize concepts.
Discipline and Classroom Behavior Procedures
Teachers should understand that they are not their students’ friends. Friends owe each other favors and expect favors in return. However, this is not the way things work out in classrooms. Teachers should avoid sending friend requests to students on social media platforms and should not show favoritism towards any single individual in class (Stichter et al. 112). High school students are curious and perceptive regarding how teachers react to each student in the classrooms. They are less likely to be disruptive and rebellious if they notice that the teachers show favoritism towards certain students. Most high school students want a caring, authoritative adult in class to strictly guide and teach them. Even so, it is essential for teachers to build strong and constructive relationships with students in class by showing interest in their talents, hobbies, and creativity. Displaying a friendly and caring attitude goes a long way in preventing disruptive behaviors and instilling discipline in high school students.
It is not a student’s place or responsibility to sit in class and learn quietly. An effective teaching strategy is to ensure that the students are well engaged during class. In high school settings, some students have been abused, raped, malnourished, or even bipolar. Teachers can make the situation better by eliciting the students’ attention and interests by keeping them engaged and active participants in the learning process. Teachers can use random note cards with student names on them. They can call out these cards by name to ensure that all students participate during class. By doing this, teachers make sure that all students feel that their voices are heard and valued (Stichter et al. 113). Teachers can also use the reversed role method where they assign students to go in front of the class and teach or explain what they have understood about specific topics. All students should be asked to do this task to enhance engagement. This strategy will help reduce negative classroom behaviors and teach the students responsibility.
High school teachers need to determine whether small infractions are worth class time. Small mistakes such as missing a pen or a notebook should not always be reported to the administration. Teachers in the classroom can effectively handle issues of dress code without forwarding them to the administration (Stichter et al. 147). Teachers should focus on more engaging and rigorous instructions that can prevent the number of discipline problems. Creating an environment of open communication and frankness can go a long way in ensuring that high school students better communicate their emotional or mental issues. This move can significantly reduce the amount of discipline and behavioral problems in class.
An emphasis on social and emotional learning that includes approaches such as restorative justice significantly helps to reduce issues of discipline and negative behaviors. Teachers should move away from punitive disciplinary measures and experiment with restorative justice techniques to prevent behavioral problems in high school classrooms (Stichter et al. 149). Teaching about restorative justice reinforces problem-solving skills and relationship building. It encourages high school students to device important strategies for reparation, while at the same time helping them to foster empathy for each other through talking and forgiveness.
Many times, people perceive a lack of parental involvement in high school because parents are not significantly visually present as they are at the elementary level. In the high school level, parental involvement shifts from being directly present to being a communicator of expectations. By communicating their educational expectations, parents powerfully encourage their students to attain high academic goals and work harder in school. Adolescents in high school desire a level of autonomy and this may make parents feel as though their child does not need them any longer. Parents should actively be involved in their high school students’ educational practices such as attending their football games, talent shows, and reinforcing their interests through support. Research shows that high school students achieve high academic results when they know that is what their parents expect from them and that the parents are significantly interested in their learning process (Stichter et al. 169). Success in high school is as a result of parents clearly communicating their expectations and positively encouraging their children to pursue higher goals.
Comparison and Contrast
From past experiences with high school students, I agree that the use of effective digital technologies is essential for high school learners. These students are adolescents, and their minds are developing fast. They want to experiment with things that they see as ‘cool’ and these sparks their interests to learn. Using digital technologies will ensure that they get interested and grasp concepts faster.
On the other hand, digital technologies if not adequately managed in class can cause a lot of distractions. Students may use these technologies for personal activities such as chatting or uploading pictures on social sites. This behavior may significantly take away from class time and concentration.
From this discussion above, there are many insightful things that teachers and educators at all levels can learn. I have found a lot of beneficial information that I intend to use in my classroom in the future. The first insight that I found very informative is the use of demonstration in elementary classes. Many times educators tend to use theoretical explanations and assume that learners grasp difficult concepts by listening. Reading about the application of the demonstration technique, I find that it can be useful in all subjects including reading, literacy, and mathematics.
Secondly, I found the concept of parental involvement very useful. Many parents only rely on teachers to teach materials in class, and there is no follow up at home. Reading and helping students with their homework is essential in elementary school. The greatest thing I learned about parental involvement in elementary school is that parents are their children’s first teachers. It, therefore, means that elementary students will tend to listen and understand more from their parents at home. However, my input would be that parents should help their children understand their homework, and avoid doing it for them. Parents may sometimes feel the need to write up correct answers for their children. This type of help is however not effective, and it will only lead to laziness and lack of responsibility on the student’s part.
In the high school discussion, I found the section about discipline and classroom behavior procedures very informative. I particularly was drawn to the strategy of developing empathy by teaching using restorative justice. Restorative justice explains a lot of things about resolving conflicts amicably including the use of reparations, apologies, and forgiveness. This concept is particularly useful in high school classroom settings because adolescents tend to have severe personality clashes. They also tend to look at things and ideas differently, and this may conflict with what they believe is right. Using restorative justice will not only develop effective conflict resolution skills but will also help students to understand the feeling and emotions of other students and this will, in turn, develop their empathy skills.
I have utilized many of these strategies discussed above in my classrooms, and I intend to incorporate the ones that I have not been using to achieve academic success for my students further. I would advise teachers to use combined teaching strategies or approaches when dealing with students in their classrooms. Different students have different learning capabilities, and it is, therefore, crucial for educators at all levels to identify each student’s learning style to be able to formulate lesson plans and teaching strategies that effectively meet their needs.
Stichter, Janine P., et al. “Assessing teacher use of opportunities to respond and effective classroom management strategies: Comparisons among high and low-risk elementary schools.” Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions 11.2 (2016): 12-214. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1098300708326597