Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Teaching Multi-Ability Classes - Some Strategies

Throughout their career, most teachers will have classes of students with a wide range of learning abilities. This means they have to cater for all these students. They cannot use a 'one model fits all students' teaching pedagogue. This article looks at four different approaches to teaching most types of classes. An experienced teacher might use all four approaches, at different times, to get the best learning outcomes for each class.

The Simplest Approach:

Step 1:

The simplest approach is to teach the learning part of the lesson to all the class as they are. Then set work to be done to consolidate your teaching.

Step 2:

There will still be students who will need extra support. There are three ways to help these students.

One idea is to gather them around you at the board or your desk and re-teach your lesson at an appropriate level for these students.
An alternative to this is to have a question and answer session with them in one of two ways. They ask the questions and you provide the answers until everyone is satisfied. The other is for you to ask and for them to answer until you are satisfied. You might like to do both in the order above with you asking questions last to test understanding.
A third alternative is to use a mentoring system where the less able have a personal mentor for the re-teaching.
Achievement Groups:

Step 1:

Group the students in your classroom in achievement groups for each subject. They will need to sit together to allow you easy access to them for the next step. Step 2:

Then, after the basic introduction and some simple set work to consolidate that introduction, re-teach the topic, if necessary, to each achievement group at an appropriate level for them.

Step 3:

Set follow up work to support that learning.

Note: (a)The more talented students should not be required to do many of the basic exercises, just enough to establish that they understand the new work. Then they can begin the more challenging exercises.

(b)These processes will enable all students to start and succeed and reduce unacceptable behaviour and time wasting.

Learning Groups and Mentors:

Step 1:

A third option is to create learning groups in your class that have the full range of student abilities with one or two student mentors per group.

Step 2:

Then teach your class group learning techniques so that they can learn cooperatively.

Step 3:

Use these techniques to teach your new work. The student mentors guide the cooperative learning strategies. They can have a great impact here because they often express your teaching ideas in a language that their fellow students understand better. This tutoring also enhances and strengthens the mentor's learning. Often the less able student can even contribute to the mentor's learning with their questions and comments.

Special Needs Teachers:

In some schools, special needs teachers can be of assistance when timetabled to your class.

Step 1:

Here you need to keep them informed as to your teaching program so they are ready to assist.

Step 2:

Plan with them how you want to use them and who they will be working with.


Seek their help in getting the best resources to help the less able.

Step 4:

You could even invite them to teach a lesson or unit with you as their assistant. They could teach the less able elsewhere while you teach the rest or you could do the reverse as a change.

Step 4:

Another way is for you to teach the new work, find out who is struggling with the new ideas and use the special needs teacher to re-teach/help those students. Thus, a variety of students would get their specialist help.

Step 5:

Most special needs teachers have some additional expertise with gifted and talented that they rarely use. Have them work with your more talented from time to time.

Step 6:

Above all, adopt a flexible approach so that the less able don't feel any stigma is attached to them for being less able in some 'academic' subjects.

Some Other Issues to Consider:

1. Text books: Here there must be lots of graded exercises so that there are available enough exercises to allow for consolidation of the basics. These graded exercises should be divided into easily recognisable groups that you can allocate to each ability group in your class. These graded exercises should introduce each new idea/skill in the correct order to enhance learning. Students are then able to begin the exercises at their level, avoiding unnecessary practice of skills they already have.

2. Basic Skills: Creating a strong understanding of the basic skills of each unit of study must always remain the teacher's first and foremost goal. Without this foundation, the step into problem solving and higher order thinking will not progress well.

3. Less able students need a variety of teaching strategies to enhance their learning. Chalk and talk lessons are often counterproductive for these students.

4. Homework:

Needs to be regular
Needs to consolidate the day's learning
Should not be onerous
Should be easy initially, allowing all students to get a start
Should be checked and corrected each time so that students see that you see it as important.
5. Formal and Informal Assessment: It is important that your assessment program reflects the teaching approaches you use with these classes.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Sharing Space On the Road Safely

One important aspect of risk management on the road is maintaining sufficient space around your vehicle at all times. A large area kept clear around a moving vehicle shows evidence of other driving skills such as planning and anticipation. As drivers we have come to see the car as our own personal space and we seek to protect it. When some one feels their movement is being restricted they can feel threatened and react aggressively. By managing the space on the road effectively this can be kept to a minimum.

We can think of different types of space on the road. Free Space is an area that is available and is not going to be used by anyone else for the moment so is safe to move into. As the traffic flow is constantly changing the situation may change in an instant so as to create a different type of area. Always check for potential threats before occupying that section of road.

Threatened space is an area of road that another vehicle intends to occupy. This often occurs when changing lanes and emerging at T junctions. Learner drivers should be taught to look for spaces and not at cars in these situations. Judging if there is sufficient room to move off and reach driving speed without inconvenience to others. Threatened space has the highest risk factor attached to it so avoid moving into this. The highest risk is the area that a vehicle cannot help moving into, usually directly in front of a moving vehicle. The higher the speed of the vehicle, the larger the threatened space is.

Opportunities are presented by intelligent use of shielded space. This situation can occur at roundabouts when turning left with a larger vehicle on the right going ahead. As the vehicle to the right moves off the space in front is now shielded from traffic on the roundabout and is therefore safe to move into. Beware of using too small a vehicle as a shield and don't hesitate to move off. If the shielding vehicle is too small or moves away quickly you are left exposed in a threatened area that is closing down fast.

Always check if a space is opening, if it is then use this to your advantage and make progress. If it's closing then check mirrors carefully before making any decision as this can mean danger. By good use of planning and a courteous attitude we can maintain a steady traffic flow and reach our destinations safely and stress free.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fear Of Driving - Staying Relaxed On The Road

For many of us driving is one of the few times we spend alone. When alone we have time to think and reflect on the day to day issues that effect our lives. This can lead to drivers dwelling on problems that are not related directly to driving yet do have a direct impact on the state of mind of the driver. These problems, real or imaginary become attached to the driving task.

Nobody likes to admit to any kind of fear when driving. This leads to it becoming a hidden problem. It can become a source of embarrassment especially among young men who are expected to have no trouble driving at all. Fear of being mocked by peers makes many suffer in silence. In truth a great many people suffer from these kinds of problems. Usually they have their roots in past negative experience such as witnessing or being involved in an accident. A near miss such as a child running out in front of the car could trigger anxieties, or the root cause may not involve driving at all.

These fears can lead to other life problems such as lack of sleep owing to worry about the daily drive to work. Job prospects can be effected if the person makes the decision to avoid driving altogether. These fears can also spring up from bad learning experiences such as an instructor shouting and being overly critical or using training routes which are too complex for the learning stage of the pupil.

There are three different types of problem. The main ones being simple fear which can give rise to panic attacks. There is anxiety, which causes physical symptoms such as sweating and exhaustion and phobias for which there is no definite root cause. All these can be cured by working through them. Instructors can help in the early stages by being sympathetic and encouraging confidence in a learner.

Drivers need to consider where their sense of unease is coming from. By rethinking and relearning negative past experiences they can be overcome. If it is from one specific memory then concentrate on this and try to detach it from the present time. Think of times when you were successful, remember how good it felt and recall that feeling when starting to drive. Control your breathing so it becomes slow and regular and relax your arms on the steering wheel. Avoid gripping it too tightly. Seek to stay in the moment and deal with the realities of being on the road and planning ahead.

By thinking of the positive benefits of driving and encouraging self belief many fears about driving simply disappear.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Career Paths in Driver Training

The green badge of the approved driving instructor is a very strong qualification to have. With additional training it can be used to work in many different teaching environments. For most instructors, training people to pass the learner test is their main role but trying something different can make for a more interesting working week.

Every learner must take the driving theory test so offering tuition for this makes good business sense. Setting up classroom facilities may be easy but getting enough learners in one place at the same time is very difficult to organise. Producing study aids at home to guide pupils through the syllabus is a good way to structure their learning and perhaps charge a higher lesson price.

Fleet driver training can open up many new interesting paths. It is advantageous for an instructor to be included on the fleet trainers register as this acts as a guarantee of basic minimum competence. Training drivers in the workplace can be a greater challenge than teaching learners. Clients will have attitudes and habits ingrained through years of driving and a high degree of diplomacy is needed when addressing these issues.

The same type of training can be conducted via the safe and fuel efficient driving programme which is aimed at drivers of commercial vehicles. It would be necessary for an instructor to have had some experience of driving vans and lorries, preferably under working conditions to understand the stress that daily effects such drivers.

With further training an instructor could work in the field of community transport. Assessment of minibus drivers is an important part of this field. The instructor would need to ensure that the driver can carry passengers safely by displaying a very high standard of driving. The ability to engage with the public is essential for such drivers as well as a patient and helpful attitude. Drivers who transport groups such as the elderly or disabled will have to understand the needs of these particular clients. The assessor would definitely need experience in this field.

Training can be conducted for safety and economy awareness driving, which is becoming increasingly popular in the commercial sector. This is a less specialist form of training but the instructor may only deliver training for the categories shown on their driving license. If an instructor has another category other than car this could be an interesting and lucrative area to become involved in.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Staying Safe - Security For Driving Instructors

In a career that mainly comprises of working alone in the presence of strangers it pays for driving instructors to be security conscious. Most are paid straight after the lesson in cash. If pupils pay for a block of lessons that can result in a lot of money being kept in the car. It is easy to put the cash in a coat on the back seat but be aware, people have had money stolen by others who open the rear door when the car is waiting at stop lights and make off with the coats. Always keep cash on you so as to prevent this type of theft.

Many instructors use a satellite navigation device to locate the address of new pupils before putting it away in the glove box before the lesson starts. Be aware that the ring marking left on the windscreen after removal shows that you have a device and thieves will assume it has been left in the glove box. It's a good idea to wipe the windscreen after removing the device.

In some areas driving school cars have been prone to vandalism whilst practising manoeuvres. People assume that the driving school car is not actually owned by the instructor making vandalism less of a personal issue. In many cases the car is owned by the instructor who must stand the cost of any repairs or insurance claim. Be careful what areas you work in and if an area has a bad reputation then avoid working there.

As driving school cars are liveried in order to be noticed be careful what information you display on it. It may not be wise to put your personal address and phone number on there. Instead give only the areas you work in and keep a separate business number to display on the car. Always keep your instructors licence with your photo pointing inwards on the windscreen.

In winter, instructors work during the hours of darkness which can be an issue for female instructors. Take care where you pick pupils up and always try to make it as public as possible. Most lessons are conducted on a one to one basis but occasionally a pupil may wish to bring some one along to observe from the back seat. If this is a new pupil you have not met before and the passenger is not their relative and has no real reason for being there, you may refuse to take the passenger. Instructors do not like to put off new business but if you don't feel comfortable with the situation then don't do it.

Driving instruction is generally a safe career with the chance to meet a lot of interesting new people. Security problems are very rare but it always pays to be careful.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Embarrassing Students in Class - Is It Necessary?

Would you rather be yelled out in front of your friends or talked to 1 on 1 by the teacher? What is more effective? Yelling or lashing out in public (in front of a class or team) only leaves the teacher in a tough position. Anytime someone gets yelled at in front of the class, most of the times the student you are yelling at will now lose respect for you as a teacher and no longer trust what you say as well as lose respect from the class. It's like calling an athlete out in front of the team. It makes the teacher look worse more than the athlete.

When there is a struggle in "public power," two sides both want to look like there in command. For example, when a teacher yells at a student for showing up to class in front of the class, the teacher believes that he/she is setting an example to the rest of the class. He/she also feels like embarrassing the student thinking their point is stronger since people are watching. The student feels threaten and has a urge to fight back. "My previous teacher kept me late." "I was helping a student out with a locker." What this boils down is this: The final say.

The final say or the last concluding remark in the argument is usually the person that wins the argument (not all the time but usually). Having the taste of the final say with no response makes people believe that they out-talked or out-lasted there arguer. This turmoil spirals down into now a short-leash relationship where there is no respect between the two parties and anything they say or do is soon quick triggered with a negative thought.

Teachers need to stop this sense of power because it will only weaken their image and there respect. It is important for students to see the extended care from a teacher. The best thing to do in this situation is to talk privately with the party involved. 1 on 1. Displaying a sense of power in public will escalate until both sides are hurt. Talking to someone in private is more meaningful and shows care. It allows both point of views to be heard and rarely will escalate into further matters. From the example above, if a teacher kept the student after class and expressed that it's really important to show up to class on time and it's disrespectful to the teacher to show up late, this eliminates negative thoughts as the student understands.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Flashing Vehicle Headlights - The Misleading Signal

According to the Highway Code the flashing of headlights may be used to warn others of your presence. It has no other meaning attached to it. Originally used as a courtesy signal by lorry drivers, it became part of their accepted vocabulary and has since been adopted by car drivers. Some other signals have accepted meanings outside their official meaning such as giving one flash of the hazard lights to thank others for giving way. The problem with these unofficial signals is that they can easily be misinterpreted and lead to accidents.

Advice given by driving instructors is generally to avoid flashing the headlights during lessons and certainly do not use this signal on a test. If using it after the test then always make sure that two drivers cannot see the signal at the same time as they have no way of deciding who the signal is intended for. If another motorist flashes at you then always check the way is clear before proceeding. It is easy to interpret the signal as an order or request and act without checking which can bring you into conflict with other drivers.

Modern cars are fitted with a flasher switch usually located on the indicator stalk. As the switch is easily reached it is tempting to use it. The fact that the car has this function legitimises the signal and can lead to overuse. Flashing headlights is often used aggressively to demand another motorist to move out of the way. This occurs on motorways when one car closes up on another in the fast lane and then flashes to be allowed past. Used courteously it can mean that the driver intends to give way especially on crowded streets with cars parked on both sides. As the same signal can have opposite meanings it can often be difficult to distinguish between the two depending on the situation.

I have seen flashing headlights used to warn of speed cameras nearby, prompt another driver to switch on their lights and invite pedestrians to cross the road. Problems can occur when driving in darkness and the car behind goes over a speed bump. The sudden change in angle of the following headlights looks like a flash and can be worrying until you figure out what it is.

Always ask yourself what the other driver is trying to tell you before doing anything. Is the signal intended for you or is there another driver nearby? If you are about to use the signal yourself, think how it might be interpreted before using it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Who's Doing The Driving These Days?

Traditionally the main market for teaching driving was young men in their teens to early twenties. This age group has always been the main market for driving instructors. Times have changed for this social group. The rising cost of fuel and car insurance has made vehicle ownership a much less attractive proposition for young men. Combined with higher unemployment figures leading to less disposable income in this group the number of people actually learning to drive has dwindled.

Many young men tend to live at home with parents for longer owing to a lack of affordable properties to rent and fewer job opportunities. This means they do not have to travel so much to visit their relatives. Having parents on hand to taxi them around is hardly an incentive to own their own car. Internet services mean that young people can keep in touch with each other without actually having to meet, cutting down on the need to travel. Online gaming also means not having to leave the house. The promotion of cycling as a means of travel as well as improved public transport also negate the need for driving.

Men in the middle age group also drive less. The reduced mileage allowance for company vehicles plays a big part in this. City roads are becoming increasingly more congested making for longer business journeys and a greater amount of lost time. Add to this the stress of modern driving and working from home or on the internet from the office makes a lot more sense than driving to meet clients. This has consequences for fleet driver trainers and those who teach defensive driving in the workplace.

On the other hand women from all age groups are driving more than ever. Mileage driven by women has rocketed over recent years but is still less than that of men.There has been a big increase in the number of female license holders who now see learning to drive as desirable. Changing roles in the workplace have lead to much more work related travel and also a greater amount of disposable income to spend on owning and driving a vehicle. Fear of travelling alone on public transport, especially at night makes car ownership much more attractive.

Women therefore represent an expanding market sector for the driving instructor. Female driver trainers and women only driving schools will find themselves in a much stronger market position for the future.

Friday, April 20, 2012

School Teaching Jobs: Moulding And Creating A Better Future

These days, people opt for solutions that are practical and useful for their daily lives. They also seize every opportunity available to gain more knowledge that can help them improve their functions and lead them to the path they dream of. Schools are the essential foundation for individuals, in which they can sharpen their skills and expand their knowledge and practices. This is why, a lot of individuals consider school teaching jobs as great opportunities to get profit from. With this being the case, teachers must not disregard the quality of teaching.

We often hear about teachers of today who are not focused on their occupation. This leads to poor teaching strategies, restricting the skills of students and promoting improper schooling behaviour to students. The need for skilled and passionate teachers is intensified in order to bring back the quality and credibility of the educational system. Aspiring job seekers must have sufficient knowledge and expertise, in addition to having the right character, in order that they can help create a much better generation.

Parents must seek for competent and skilled teachers to hone the skills and knowledge of their children. A person who can guide kids to achieve their goals and encourage them to create innovative solutions that can be useful for their future. In addition, teachers must provide kids the essential lessons that are useful in their daily lives since not all teachings in school can be used in their everyday functions. These lessons can motivate and inspire them and help them understand the world.

Moreover, schools must also evaluate their faculty to ensure that their students can attain the best and ideal knowledge in their studies. This would help improve the standards of the school and maximise their function as an institution that provides excellent education and service. So, having exceptional teachers in their institution whose goal is not just to get extra pay can truly help kids in their schooling and personal issues, which will help develop great and intelligent students.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Teaching Students An Effective Checking Technique In Mathematics

Teaching Students An Effective Checking Technique In Mathematics

Why is a checking procedure necessary in Maths? Here are four reasons.

It ensures that each student can achieve their best possible result.
It saves time in examination situations allowing the student to spend more time on other questions that he/she can attempt. This means the possibility of more marks and better results.
It helps maintain confidence.
It means that the student should never get it wrong if he/she knows and understands the Maths involved. Subbing your 'answers' into each equation to make sure they make all the equations true is an example of what I mean here.
Below are the strategies I used when teaching students a checking process in Mathematics. Many of these strategies could be effective in other subject areas.

Strategy 1: Preparation for checking.

By this I mean that the teacher must inculcate a checking strategy as an automatic procedure within every student's consciousness. That means it is done with every exercise every day and not just done at assessment time.

Strategy 2: Setting out.

Logical, clear and neat setting out allow ease of checking. Teachers should constantly model appropriate setting out for each new procedure.

Strategy 3: Working down the page.

Logical setting out that goes done the page, line by line, makes it easy for the eye to check that the student has transposed the correct numbers or symbols.

Strategy 4: Step by step checking.

This I think is the most important strategy in the process. The student must develop a mindset that does the checking line by line as each step/line is completed. This strategy saves time, maintains confidence and increases the success the student has in assessment tasks.

Strategy 5: Answering the question.

Did you do what the question asked you to do?
Did you answer every part of the question?
Strategy 6: Estimating the answer.

When the student reads the question, the type of answer required should become apparent to him/her. There should be an expectation of what is the expected answer. This allows the student to compare what he/she gets for an answer with what he/she expects the answer to be. This allows him/her to consider the correctness of the answer that he/she gets.

Strategy 7: Calculators and checking.

The student must remember that the calculator is only as correct as the data imputed and the keys punched. Therefore, every calculator use must be checked by doing the calculation again. The student must record the first calculator answer before he/she does the calculation check. If the answers are different, then a third calculation is required to find the correct answer.

Strategy 8: Copying data from the written question.

This is the first and often most common of all errors made by students. It is essential that copying down of the data is checked automatically.

Stagey 9: Diagrams.

Diagrams are an essential part of some Mathematical exercises. Transposing the data from the question onto the diagram needs again to be correct before a student can begin to solve a problem. Diagrams need to be large to be useful.

Obviously, a successful checking process will not enhance a student's Mathematical ability but will always lead the student to the best possible results.

One last strategy:

It is important to make reference to where individual students make mistakes in their work. This last strategy is to point out, after each assessment task, where the errors were made and what checking strategy was required to eliminate that error. Point out, also, how many marks that those avoidable mistakes cost the student. This should be motivation enough for students to adopt a daily checking regime.