Truly Engaging Students and Meeting Their Needs: Reconciling Our Ideals with Their Realities

 

John LoughranAs our team continues its research and writing on teaching, I (Clive) have been re-reading John Loughran’s wonderful book What Expert Teachers Do (Routledge, 2010). http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415579674/
This week I came across a section that reports a common gap between teacher and student views of good teaching (pp. 210-11). For example:
Teacher view:
Students should have opportunities to be active and think about their learning experiences
Student view:
Learning is associated with gaining right answers, and thinking and personal understanding are just different and often frustrating ways of achieving required outcomes
Teacher view:
Linking experiences from both within and outside school greatly assists learning
Student view:
The final grade is the critical outcome and the basis by which progress is judged

Loughran’s colleague Jeff Northfield, on whose teaching experiences these findings were based, was able to bridge the gap to a degree, but only by “listening carefully to his students [and] capitalising on opportunities as they arose.”Cover of What Expert Teachers Do
This helped me see that in developing ideas about good teaching (and good teacher education) we must work closely with our students, listening to them as they describe the realities of their world. Together we must come up with a pedagogy they understand and accept, one that both meets their immediate needs and ensures deeper gains for the long-term. We need to reconcile broader ideals with hard realities.
I think this can be done; but we must actually do it. Part of what is involved is practicing with our students the constructivism and dialogical teaching we believe in, and that really does work.  Clive

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