We all instinctively know the difference between real and fake. We feel good when someone shows genuine interest to our thoughts. This is also the way of the most effective teaching, because meaningful learning includes emotions and feeling positive about the learning situation. Too often the view of teaching is limited to instruction, which at worse becomes a monologue: communication without interaction. Yet teaching is SO much more than that!
Good communication is one tool for having a meaningful learning (and teaching) experience. But how do we define good communication? To me it means being present in the learning situation as a trustworthy grown up person who is interested about students. When a teacher stops being interested in learning it is time to stwith to another carees or retire! For me, being passionately interested about how the learning process occurs with different learners, it becomes a learning situation for us all.
The questions asked must be "real", in the meaning that the person asking them really wants to know the answer. We teachers often fall into the "questioning mode", asking questions that only have the purpose of showing and using power. For example while asking questions from the done homework, the real purpose is to control the studied and memorized information, not to hear the students' thoughts or their understanding about the topic (because if everybody explained that we wouldn't have time to do anything else, right?). Yet, there should be lots of student speaking in each classroom, because while externalizing our own thoughts we create deeper meaning and gain deeper understanding.
One tool for better communication is to enable more student speaking, but in well guided manner. Very young students learn to interact appropriately when they are given more chances to do that. The teacher can assign small groups of students with categorizing or explaining tasks, and while working more students have the chance to speak up, than in whole class teaching mode. I have been working with 7-year-olds, and realized that they are very capable in categorizing their Bakugans or Pokemons and explaining their thoughts, so we might want to use that capability in learning about science, math and other important content.
Empowering students to learn helps them to like learning – or even crave for more knowledge and understanding. This means they are learning for life not just for school. We can change the future world by choosing to provide meaningful learning experiences for our students.
How do you choose to teach today?