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Education in the Primary Division

Education in the primary division plays a critical part in children’s growth. It is in this stage that children develop skills, discipline and intellectual growth which they will be useful in their growing years. These characters or skills are ultimately developed with the help of a teacher; thus, teachers play a critical role in the classroom, especially in a child’s development. It is with this reason that educators are pushed to perform at their best in providing effective teaching techniques and consequently, good education to children in the Primary division.

This is so much so that children will be able to have a good foundation for which they will live by as they mature. It is relevant for teachers to employ effective teaching practices in order to maximize learning in the classroom. The trend in today’s teaching practices is shifting away from the traditional form which is considered to be passive learning. Leaner participation is now gaining focus because it is believed that information is retained better with participation and experience. Encouraging learner participation or active learning is thus proposed to be an effective teaching practice.

However, in order to realize effective teaching practices, it is also relevant to take note that there are factors that affect the learning environment within a classroom. These factors include autonomy, self-esteem, Piaget’s theory of developmental stages, planning, and assessment. This paper shall discuss the first three factors. Autonomy – Independence – “the ability to take charge of one’s own learning” (Holec, 1981) – Autonomous learners “are expected to assume greater responsibility for, and take charge of, their own learning. ” (Thanasoulas, 2000) – Promote active learning.

– Autonomy is related to constructivism wherein it is believed that children learn through experiences. – Autonomy is an important aspect of effective learning in students. Taking charge of one’s learning means that a learner holds his own initiative to formulate or discover knowledge on his own. – When students gain this autonomy, the learning process will be faster and more effective. – Autonomy is greatly affected by motivation. The responsibility of motivation heavily lies on the teachers and they are expected to maintain this positivity in the classroom in order to keep learning opportunities open.

In the given situation, the teacher promoted learner autonomy by allowing the pupils to read new words from a chart. The teacher also supported the pupils by asking questions that help construct meaning with the words which they find difficult. Later, the teacher allowed the pupils to formulate their own ideas about a picture in the book. The teacher aided the pupils by asking questions regarding the picture and allowed them to predict the story content. By doing so, the teacher motivated the pupils to create, imagine, and form ideas regarding the picture on their own.

This practice shows a diversion from the traditional form of teaching which employs passive learning. In the traditional form, the teacher gives out all information allowing little participation from the pupils; for example, the teacher introduces the new words by reading it to them in order to show the correct pronunciation and gives out the definition quite easily without engaging the students in finding the meaning of those words. In the case given, the teacher promoted autonomy or active learning wherein the children were allowed to experience and to guess in order for them to construct their own ideas about the particular matter.

Furthermore, teachers asking questions starting with a ‘how’ or ‘why’ helps students construct ideas more. Another instance wherein the teacher promoted learner autonomy was when the students were allowed to confirm their predictions by initially reading the first pages on their own. The teacher only provided assistance when she was needed. Clearly, this teaching practice embraces the idea of providing learner autonomy to students; allowing them to experience and also, assimilate this experience. Self-Esteem – Children learn better if they have a good regard for their selves. – Educators must be careful not to harm children’s self-esteem.

– Children rely on rewards to boost their self-esteem. They need to be praised for the good things that they do. – The state of a student’s self-esteem may predict their performance in class (Schindler). – Self-esteem is an important aspect of a child’s development and learning. In the classroom, children with low self-esteem may not join in discussions and will revert to isolation in order to avoid rejection. – Teachers should be able to identify this with their students. Children with low self-esteem are easy to spot so teachers should be aware of this trait in their students.

As educators, teachers should also know their students well enough in order to find points for improvement and to structure the lesson in a way that will be engaging for all the students. – Once a teacher knows which students have especially low self-esteem, care should be taken in order not to scathe their esteems more. The teacher should engage these children to play and participate. In the situation given, the teacher’s method of allowing children participation in the classroom by engaging them in a non-competitive situation seems befitting to promote self-esteem within the learners.

A competitive environment tends to lower self-esteem for some students while a cooperative learning environment has been shown to nurture if not improve student self-esteem (Johnson & Johnson, 1998). Why is there a need to promote self-esteem among students? Simple observations relate higher levels of self-esteem in students who have better performances in school. Going back to the situation given, the teacher enforced round robin techniques which do not encourage competition. Each student takes his turn; thus, each student is able to actively participate in the class activity.

The situation given also posed an instance where the teacher observed reading behaviors of two students in particular. If the reading behaviors observed were negative, the teacher should come up with ways in which the children’s deficiencies will be addressed without causing embarrassment to them. If the observations are positive, the teacher should encourage the children to continue with their good standing. In promoting pupil self-esteem in the classroom, teachers should understand the psychological effects of self-esteem, why it is important to promote this in the classroom and how it affects the study habits or participation of students.

The teacher should therefore create an environment which will not degrade student self-esteem rather promote student participation. Piaget’s Theory (Learning as associated with experience) – Children undergo developmental stages wherein they use schemes in order to understand their environment and in the process, learn about their environment. – Sensorimotor stage (birth to 2 years): The child uses reflex and motor activity in order to discover his environment. At 7 – 9 months, children are already able to realize that objects exist even when out of sight proving that their memory is developing.

– Preoperational stages (2 – 7 years): Children start to use language while developing imagination and memory. – Concrete operational stage (7 – 11 years): Children start to create logical structures which try to explain the experiences he or she has accumulated. – Formal operational stage (11 – 15 years): Children’s cognitive structures are the same as that of adults. – Piaget’s theory on developmental stages (Boeree, 2006) is relevant in order for teachers to realize the important role of experiences or interactions in the learning process of students.

Teachers should construct the curriculum in a way that promotes the student’s conceptual and logical growth. – Due to its focus on experiences, such as play, as a child’s way of learning, Piaget’s theory is also associated with constructivism. – The constructivist notion “should be child directed not teacher directed. ” (Matthews, 2003) – Constructivism embraces the thought that students construct ideas basing on accumulated knowledge from previous or current experiences; therefore, students learn for themselves. It also supports the idea that learning is an active process because children are allowed to experience in order to learn.

– Constructivist techniques lie in the key notion that teaching style should match student learning style. (Matthews, 2003) In the situation given, the teacher employed topics and study materials which fit the developmental stage of the students. Second graders are usually aged 7 to 8 years old. According to Piaget’s theory, these students are categorized under the concrete operational stage wherein children are already able to create logical ideas regarding things which they encounter – in the situation given, the picture acted as the stimulus.

It is an effective teaching practice to use materials and subject topics as well as play which fit the age group or the developmental stage of the students. The teacher presented the story in a way of a game, a guessing game. It is also commendable that children are allowed to form their ideas regarding subject topics on their own and in a way of play in order for them to understand as well as participate better. This technique also allows them to find out for themselves if they are right or wrong with their guesses. Once they assimilate this experience, a new set of knowledge is added to their learning.

It is also a constructivist position that teachers should allow learners to relate with sensory data and build their own world. Constructivism assumes many ideologies. First being that learning is an active process wherein the learner finds knowledge for himself by interacting with the world. This stresses the importance of experience in learning. Next is that learning occurs with social interactions and contexts. Social interactions will result to the development of logical reasoning as well as motivation to succeed (Matthews, 2003). Motivation is also seen as an important aspect of constructivism.

Not only should the teachers learn to motivate their students but students should also imbibe this motivation. Learning will not be achieved at its optimum if the students do not have the motivation to know, that is, even when the teacher regularly encourages the students. Discussion In the end, the factors which affect teaching practices in the classroom are seen to be interrelated. In order to promote autonomy in the classroom, the teacher should encourage the students to experience the topic on hand. Experience, most especially in the form of play, is also an important aspect of Piaget’s theory and of Constructivism.

However, children’s ability to engage themselves in experiences that will help them learn can also be affected by their level of self-esteem. The effect of self-esteem in learning as well as performance in the classroom has been widely studied. Researchers have shown that people with “high levels of self-efficacy have correspondingly high degrees of self-esteem” (Schindler). It is therefore relevant for teachers to identify this trait among their students in order to find out which students to be given utmost attention and building up.

A common denominator that can be seen among these three factors – autonomy, constructivism, and self-esteem, is the need for motivation. Promoting learner autonomy and constructive learning needs motivation coming from the teacher, who is also considered as the facilitator of the group or class. Motivation is more importantly needed in order to promote student self-esteem, which is needed in order for them to have the confidence to participate in class and not be afraid of failure. More importantly, if there is no motivation coming from the students themselves, learning will not be achieved.

In conclusion, in order for teaching practices to be effective, one needs to address the factors that affect the learning environment. One must promote learner autonomy and self-esteem among students as well as structure the curriculum in a way that will fit the developmental stage of the students. The teacher should also understand the relevance of promoting a student-directed structure in the classroom and not a teacher-directed one. Motivation and encouragement are key characteristics that teachers should be able to promote in their students. Bibliography: Auger, W. , & Rich, S. (2007). Curriculum Theory and Methods. US. Boeree, G. (2006).

Jean Piaget. Retrieved July 30, 2010, from wbspace. ship. edu: http://webspace. ship. edu/cgboer/piaget. html Bredekamp, S. , & Copple, C. (1997). Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs . US: National Assoc for the Education of Young Children. Holec, H. (1981). Autonomy in Foreign Language Learning. Oxford: OUP. Johnson, D. , & Johnson, R. (1998). Cooperative Learning And Social Interdependence Theory. Retrieved July 30, 2010, from co-operation. org: http://www. co-operation. org/pages/SIT. html Matthews, W. (2003). Constructivism in the Classroom: Epistemology, History, and Empirical Evidence.

Retrieved July 30, 2010, from teqjournal. org: http://www. teqjournal. org/backvols/2003/30_3/matthews. pdf Schindler, J. (n. d. ). Creating a Psychology of Succes in the Classroom: Enhancing Academic Achievement by Systematically Promoting Student Self-Esteem. Retrieved July 31, 2010, from calstatela. edu: http://www. calstatela. edu/faculty/jshindl/cm/Self-Esteem%20Article%2011. htm Thanasoulas, D. (2000, Novermber 11). What is Learner Autonomy and How Can it be Fostered? Retrieved July 2010, 30, from iteslj. org: http://iteslj. org/Articles/Thanasoulas-Autonomy. html

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