Module 1 Later years students

I.            What do you think are the most definitive characteristics of later year’s students? Identify these in five words (or less). Then add one sentence to describe each characteristic.

 

Adulthood – there is an increased exposure through peers, media to more ‘adult’ activity both legal and illegal.

Inexperience – limited understanding of the effects of their actions and decisions on other people

Independence – creating their own style and personality

Career – developing a strategy to follow a career path such as subject selection

Responsibility – planning and committing to study and managing extra-curricular activities such as work, sport, groups etc.

 

      II.            What implication/s will this have on your teaching of later years students?

 

I enjoyed observing the views of the experienced teachers – some with years, others with decades of experience in teaching later years students.

In common with each of the stories was a positive attitude toward the cohort with an understanding and appreciation the students were taking, not only in their academic but in their personal physiological and emotional development to adulthood – albeit at times wobbly.

Supporting these ‘new adults’ to optimise the best outcomes from their later years formal education has an impact on the teacher’s love for their career – and that the satisfaction of working with such a group.

The understanding that whilst there are signs of emotional and physical maturity, there was mention that the later years students in some ways were ‘still just kids’ especially when faced with heightened anxieties associated with VCE and not necessarily having the skills and maturity to deal appropriately with the emotional demands of VCE.

Another general theme to come out of the videos was the general ‘acknowledgement’ of the presenters in how there was ‘stages’ of development as opposed to a ‘learning curve’ with some being as explicit as the changes occurring over the transition from year 10 to year 11 and again into year 12.  Whether this development happens in such stages or gradual growth is an interesting observation – is it only when the presenters have stepped back and reviewed (i.e. over the summer break) is growth and development noticed?  I’d suggest this is a general observation with the age cohort based on the variable rates of maturation of physical, emotional, academic and social aspects of each student.

The final main point from these videos was to provide enough support by providing a structure within which students can work but also to further challenge and expand their understanding with flexibility.

 

    III.            What are two things you can do in your teaching to actively encourage lifelong learning?

 

Teach for understanding beyond the exam requirements.  Ignite the idea that the learning process is not about ‘what’ but the how and why we learn and build a relevance into their lives.  Create an attitude towards learning to challenge their values, knowledge and attitudes.  These ‘metacognitive skills’ are important life skills for future aspects of their lives –whether it be helping to decide which career path interests them through to making plans and decisions for a holiday.  Being confident in approaching new or uncommon issues allows students (and therefore the adults of tomorrow) to develop methods to deal with and develop a plan and solution.

Students ‘apply knowledge’ through problem-solving – don’t give away the answer too quickly, allow the students to come up with solutions.  Planting the seed in students to explore and find out for themselves – to be inquisitive and ask not only the ‘how’ and ‘why’ but ‘is there more to it?’  Students will benefit from developing the learning tools outside the subject traditions but applicable across many aspects of their lives – time management, problem solving, reflection, collaboration, communication skills to develop techniques for creating a response, rather than simply one answer to one question.

 

    IV.            As you read, note down ideas that you may be able to incorporate into your teaching of later years students.

 

The goal is to keep all students engaged and participating because only the person who thinks, learns. – Wills, p56

The above statement has rung true for me more than many others.  Most teachers, students and education stakeholders (i.e. parents, community etc.) would have a similar understanding of the importance of having students engaged and participating as it is key to the learning.  Those without a great formal education experience could agree that they did not like school and they were bored – however with their work and/or pastimes, have found that they have learned because they were engaged and participated making them think.

I found it fascinating reading about the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ mechanism we humans share with other animals affects us as students in the classroom.  (Willis, p50)  It makes sense that our brains are subconsciously ‘protecting’ students during times of stress or fear – fear of being embarrassed when delivering a speech to class or stressing about under-performing in and up-coming test.   To overcome this, Willis suggests ways to alleviate the stresses and anxieties within the classroom, challenging some of the traditional methods of ‘chalk and talk’ to create a more welcoming and less confronting environment.

I particularly enjoyed the concept of adding novelty to the classroom – something that I have previously done even with adult learners to, with regard to the quote at the top, keep them participating and engaged.  I use colours, diagrams, daggy drawings and cartoons to help with the enjoyment of my students and boost their dopamine levels in line with Willis suggestions.

 

REFERENCES:

Bryce, J. & Withers, G. (2003) ‘Engaging secondary school students in lifelong learning’ Retrieved from: http://research.acer.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1014&context=indigenous_education
KidsGrowth, (2004) ‘Stages of Adolescent Development’ Retrieved from: http://www.kidsgrowth.com/resources/articledetail.cfm?id=1140
Sousa, D. (2010). Mind, Brain, & Education: Neuroscience Implications for the Classroom (Leading Edge). Bloomington: Solution Tree Press.
Willis, J The Current Impact of Neuroscience on Teaching and Learning In Sousa, D. (2010). Mind, Brain, and Education Neuroscience Implications for the Classroom (Leading Edge). Bloomington: Solution Tree Press.
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