Teach English in HuangchuAn Zhen - Lianyungang Shi

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Lesson plans and classroom activities are a critical part of any course as this is where learning happens and demonstrates what learning takes place. They are all set out and created by the teacher with the intention of the students learning a specific outcome. The outcome may be to build on a pre-existing skill, develop a new skill, or even just an exchange of perspectives and knowledge. That being said, not all classroom activities should be directed by the teacher as there should be a balance to allow for an open-ended process throughout the course. Teachers should be the leaders that build a foundation for the students, while providing support and guidance, however, they shouldn’t take on full control. This ties in with the overall rapport and relationship between teacher and student. As indicated by Shmoop (n.d.), Teacher-directed can provide stability and structure within the classroom, allowing for all topic areas to be covered. However, when the Teachers set up an environment where they are the only ones that are allowed to choose the direction of the course, students eventually lose interest and their learning styles may not be fully reflected in the overall course lessons and activities.   As Students come from different backgrounds, they can also provide a fresh and creative perspective that not only other students can benefit from, but the educator can as well. Although teachers may have pre-planned activities and lessons, it is not guaranteed that what worked in the past on a group of students will be successful with a different group. When we as Teachers allow for students input, we are including them in their own learning process and establishing a relationship that provides both parties with respect and encouragement to work towards an end goal. If all activities are teacher-directed, it can take away from the learning experience as it becomes a controlled outcome. In the activate phase, in a situation where the teacher believes that certain results will come from ideas/plans, and the result is the opposite; teachers should feel comfortable to allow the activity to become student-directed. By allowing the class to become student-directed, room for different directions and unexpected but beneficial outcomes can benefit learners in a new way. If the student-directed lesson steers away from the topic, this would be an acceptable moment for the teacher to step in and redirect. In this case, this would be an acceptable moment to return to the study phase and review certain topics and theories that might be confusing the students. Students need the opportunity to work independently, in groups and in pairs in order to understand their own knowledge and gain new perspectives, which create a diversity of knowledge. According to Machado and Mello-Carpes (2018), based on a personal study, they indicate that student-led activities are beneficial because: “In this type of teaching, students actively seek answers to questions or solutions to problems using their natural desire and curiosity, which drives the curriculum (4). These modalities can be used in class, in laboratory activities, and in other contexts (8), and, generally, when the students are exposed to active learning, they react favorably (2–4)." When students are able to assign roles in group settings, this also allows them to become experts in certain topic areas which they may have needed more clarification on, allowing for independence and confidence in their learning process.   When Teachers continue to direct all activities and lesson plans, it creates a dull learning environment for students. As our classrooms consist of students from different educational backgrounds, ages, and motivations, we need to make sure that we are targeting all learners. At the beginning of the course, most educators take the time to learn about the students in their class; different learning styles, previous knowledge etc, this learning period continues throughout the course. When we support our students by allowing their voices to be heard, acknowledged and represented throughout the course, we instil confidence, motivation and interest. When activities start to become predictable and repetitive, students will lose out on quality learning as they will become uninterested in the activities that are set out to support their learning. Additionally, the teachers need to make sure that the activities are age appropriate and match the English learning level they are at.    In conclusion, Teachers should allow for a balance of both teacher-directed and student-directed classes as both parties can benefit from this. Not only will students feel motivated for their own success, but the teachers will be able to see how their teaching styles have reflected on the knowledge learned by their students. Allowing students to take on the teaching role at points throughout the course can be used as a reflection tool for the teacher. They will be able to see what teaching techniques and styles are successful and which need to be adapted to better suit the students. As outlined by Kompa (2012), Teacher-centred lessons limit the opportunity for self-reflection and focuses on the product of learning rather than the process. Additionally, it limits students self-help skills as they learn to rely on the teacher as the main source of information instead of relying on them as co-learners. Students also are provided with the opportunity to see what theories and lessons they understood and which are unclear. Making sure that the activities are relatable and reflective of the various learners in the classroom will result in more attention and positive feedback from the students. If all activities are teacher-directed, then that sets a negative tone and rapport between the teacher and student. All in all, creating a positive learning space for both roles will benefit overall learning and allow the educator to learn and improve from their own teaching mistakes. (word count: 972 words)   Citations: Kompa, J. S. (2012, June 25). DISADVANTAGES OF TEACHER-CENTERED LEARNING. Retrieved February 10, 2020, from https://joanakompa.com/2012/06/25/the-key-disadvantages-of-teacher-centered-learning/ Shmoop. Teacher-Centered vs. Student-Centered Approach. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.shmoop.com/teachers/teaching-learning-styles/teaching-styles/teacher-centered-vs-student-centered.html Machado, R. S., & Mello-Carpes, P. B. (2018, April 20). Advances in Physiology Education. The use of an open-ended, student-led activity to aid in the learning and understanding of action potential. Retrieved February 10, 2020, from https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/advan.00101.2017