Themes

Teaching

Educational Outcomes for All Students

The emerging viewpoint these days is that in order to ensure improved students’ achievement and equity in schools, education systems in schools should provide successful educational outcomes with all students. Both administrators and teachers no longer see education as adequate if it is only providing equal access to the same “one size fits all”- educational opportunities. They embrace the idea of providing education that promotes equity by recognizing and meeting the varied educational needs of learners.

An average classroom consists of students who each come with different prior experiences, capacities, and interests, which is why we require varied engaging opportunities in order to attain equitable student outcomes.

If every student were to have the same or equal opportunities, he or she would not be fully tapping into the interplays possible within the classroom community. But if students individually are given the educational assets or rights that allow them to successfully tap into varied opportunities, then all students are better positioned to succeed. These opportunities include:

A holistic focus on learners. Holistic education aims at helping students be the most that they can be – what Abraham Maslow referred to as “self-actualization.” Education with a holistic perspective is concerned with the development of every person’s intellectual, emotional, social, physical, artistic, creative and spiritual potentials.

A focus on improving classroom practices. Since the point of Classroom Curriculum Design, Pedagogy, and Students’ Assessment is to improve classroom practice and student learning, all types of classroom curriculum, teaching and students’ assessment should have educational value and practical benefits for those who participate in them, especially students and teachers.

Maryellen Weimer (2009) gives Six Keys to Classroom Excellence in Effective Teaching Strategies:

Interest and explanation – “When our interest is aroused in something, whether it is an academic subject or a hobby, we enjoy working hard at it. We come to feel that we can in some way own it and use it to make sense of the world around us.” (p. 98). Thus, coupled with the need to establish the relevance of content, instructors need to craft explanations that enable students to understand the material. This involves knowing what students understand and then forging connections between what is known and what is new.

Appropriate assessment and feedback – This principle involves using a variety of assessment techniques and allowing students to demonstrate their mastery of the material in different ways. It avoids those assessment methods that encourage students to memorize and regurgitate. It recognizes the power of feedback to motivate more effort to learn.

Clear goals and intellectual challenge – Effective teachers set high standards for students. They also articulate clear goals. Students should know up front what they will learn and what they will be expected to do with what they know.

Independence, control and active engagement – A study by Weimer shows that “Good teaching fosters a sense of student control over learning and interest in the subject matter” (Weimer, 2009, p. 100). That is, good teachers create learning tasks appropriate to the student’s level of understanding. They also recognize the uniqueness of individual learners and avoid the temptation to impose “mass production” standards that treat all learners as if they were exactly the same (p. 102). This suggests that students who experience teaching of the kind that permits control by the learner, not only learn better but enjoy learning more.

Learning from students – “Effective teaching refuses to take its effect on students for granted. It sees the relation between teaching and learning as problematic, uncertain and relative. Good teaching is open to change: it involves constantly trying to find out what the effects of instruction are on learning, and modifying the instruction in the light of the evidence collected.” (p. 102)

Avoiding distortions – What educators in the schools should be concerned about most is how to identify effective communication strategies to avoid distortions. Educators need to be aware of barriers to listening and strategies for effective listening, barriers to accurate perception and strategies for accurate perception, and barriers to effective verbal communication and strategies for effective verbal communication (McNaughton, Hamlin, McCarthy, Head-Reeves, & Schreiner, 2008; Weger, Castle, & Emmett, 2010).

What strategies have proven useful to you in enabling your students to succeed?

Martin Audi Akoto

Dr. Akoto, Ph.D., since 2014 is the Director of Education for the West Kenya Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Kisumu, Kenya. Has experience in skillful engagement in curriculum development, instruction, and teaching as well as generation of new knowledge in the field of education.
Martin Audi Akoto

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