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Empowering Through Education by Judianne Jayme

Educational exploration

Learning versus doing

by Judianne Jayme

Phew! It has been a whirlwind the past few months and I wanted to review the series I started. These are the topics that I am speaking about in this column to help both families and educators navigate education in Manitoba.

  1. Building relationships
  2. Student-centred learning
  3. Advocating for yourself
  4. Finding balance.

As mentioned in my previous article, we build communities through building relationships – and the importance of communication in this field. You must communicate with not only your students, but also your teaching team, school staff, administrators, and families. This article will focus on student-centred learning, and what that looks like now.

Educator/Parent Tips: environment as a classroom

This is directed to both educators and to our families with school-aged children. Depending on your education experience as a student, you may have remembered the “sage on the stage” model. This has the teacher up front, teaching what he or she has been teaching for years, in a style that has worked for him or her in the past.

While this model has worked for some in the past, we are moving toward a “guide at the side” model. The students are at the centre, and it is their learning that we adjust to. We need to consider certain things:

1. Not all students learn at the same rate or in the same way.

Imagine yourself learning how to something for the first time – let’s say riding a motorcycle. You attend a group lesson, everyone has their motorcycle and is waiting for instruction. The instructor shows up, shows you how to do the basic functions, and then expects you to begin riding your motorcycle. For some students, they are “naturals” at this. They jump on and ride like they were born to do it. For others, it’s not so simple. There are some with anxiety at beginning. There are some who have a few questions before they feel comfortable starting. Others may have a language barrier that prevents them from understanding all the instructions.

If this, as adults, is the experience of learning, it is not any different for our students. We must differentiate to meet the diverse needs of our learners. If your child comes home unsure of how to do homework, suggest different ways to find solutions to the problem instead of telling them only one tried-and-true method (especially if that method doesn’t makes sense to them).

2. There is a difference between doing and learning.

“But these kids don’t even know how to do basic multiplication.”

I agree that there is an importance in doing things efficiently – spelling, computations, etc. However, there needs to be a balance. Many students fly under the radar as excellent readers because they can decode sentences perfectly – but lack the comprehension to actually understand what they are reading. Now, does this make them an excellent reader after all, or does it tell us that they know their vowel patterns and how to read words? Take that into consideration when you are working with your child or students. Make sure that they are not just doing their math, or reading, or any subject – make sure that they are learning.

Ask them “How do you know?” when they give you the answer – then help work with them to express and explain their understanding.

With report cards and tri-conferences coming up for most school divisions, make sure to ask any questions you have to your child’s teacher. He or she is there to make sure that there is a partnership between home and school to help your child get the most out of his or her learning experience.

Best of luck, and have a great learning month!

Judianne is an educator teaching fourth grade in the Winnipeg School Division and is also a mentor for early service teachers. She works with youth through her youth empowerment project Dalagita and is beginning to provide cultural educational programming through her role in Mabuhay TV.

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