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Teaching Methods for Different Learning Styles
Today, one of the biggest challenges that many educators and teachers face is finding a way to succeed with all of their students. Of course, this is much easier said than done or implemented in practice. It is not really possible for all of the students to have a knack or liking for a particular subject or be aware of their natural affinity. In many cases, teachers do realize that it is simply not possible to reach out all students and also ensure that they are able to identify their inner strengths and overcome the weaknesses. It means that there are a lot of children out there, who are not able to get the best because of their inherent weaknesses. It is true that even the best of the talent pool is unable to break this barrier and reach out to the students. With the classroom sizes increasing and the restriction of time frames, it is hindrance for even the most well trained teacher and he/she can find many students difficult to work with.
But experts often state that these are only problems rooted in substantive emotional and based on a set of behavior issues. According to these experts, the total concept of understanding or promoting the success of particular students happens due to fundamental incongruities and these are problems that are related to cognitive preferences and learning styles. So is there actually a teaching method that would be able to incorporate different learning styles into one and then use the same for teaching methods or applications. Different views exist on this issue and there has been plenty of research into the matter. Students and teachers differences occur in all classrooms and there are often instances when teachers react in a conventional manner. They do not want to change their teaching methods or style simply because they are not used to it. Also, students who are not really that well into the intelligent bracket or don’t fare well in school are the ones who suffer a setback. But there are a lot of steps to understand and mitigate issues to be addressed for overcoming these hassles.
The Basics of Teaching
On the whole, teaching is not really a simple profession. Along with having much uniqueness, it is also rather complex because you are dealing here with a set of diverse human beings - mainly children. These are kids who come from different cultural backgrounds, have different levels of interest, achievements, intelligence and even physical health. So is it wise to standardize the educational process and stick to a method that is stereotype with nearly no personalization. Meeting the needs of different educational styles is a challenge that all teachers face. There are some of the problems that students face in the world of teaching, which is something that only teachers can help them overcome.
A common problem that most students usually face on the first day of school would be individual differences. You will notice that there are different kids of different genders, races, structures, appearance, etc. present. Along with the visible differences that you can see on the physical front, there are a lot of hidden classes and differences here too. You will find students of diverse socioeconomic strata, who come from various family configurations and finally there are students with special needs. So on the whole, the teacher has to deal with differing interests, and abilities. Then again there are umpteen cultural backgrounds, different languages, different learning styles, and different attitudes toward school.
And this is not really something new. It is a part of something that the teacher experiences everyday. It is a school and if you think of it there are students of these many categories under one roof. Statistics in each school vary in terms of educational performances, opportunities, skills, abilities, etc. And at the end of the day, there is a generic process being applied to these students. But is it possible for a teacher to apply a generic mode of teaching for all of these students with so many differences. Well it certainly is not possible to diversify or personalize beyond a certain extent.
Getting over the myth of teaching the middle
A common myth that is often applied in the line of teaching is that teacher’s only focus mainly on the middle group of students who have average intelligence levels and a decent ability to grasp, what is being taught. However, this is not really true. The passion of a teacher or the role of the teacher is to take care of categories of all students. It could be the ones who respond to energetic and motivating instructors. There is no doubt that most teachers find it easier to prep up and have a standard teaching mode, which applies to all. The middle group gets the attention as the above-average ones are already way ahead and the less intelligent ones are not ready to grasp it. But this is totally untrue. As a teacher, the focus is on helping students of all the categories to get a decent quality of education.
So teachers do implement their individual efforts in exercising the concept of designing teaching methods to meet the needs of all learning styles. Here are some factors that would help them in the process-
Understanding the Different Categories of Students
Remember that the individual differences of all the students come with a set of different levels of intelligence. Howard Gardner had a theory of multiple intelligences that proposed 'instead of a single, fixed intelligence, there are actually eight facets of intelligence’. In simple, what this researcher was trying to say is that everyone has a certain degree of smartness, but it is teachers who are able to dig deep into this and help them to understand and excel at the same. Here are the different levels of intelligences available along with theories or teaching processes that would apply to different groups-
As per Gardner, this visual/spatial intelligence group was the one that would excel at spatial relationships and learn visually. Hence, it is a group that really enjoys drawing, creating, watching videos, seeing visuals and photos, etc. Action-plan
No doubt that a lot of students come under this category because visual learning has emerged as one of the most popular means or teaching methods to meet the needs of all learning styles. Today, a lot of schools have made conscious efforts to reflect quicker learning processes through the means of this intelligence. Here the students are able to learn more via the visual mean, which can be combined with audio. So more of digital experiences in the classroom, movies, etc. are highly recommended.
The next group of students are those who have strength in verbal/linguistic intelligence. As the name suggests, these are the students who are able to learn best through the language arts. It could be the standard modes of learning say reading, speaking, writing, etc. which in turn comprises of the traditional methods of instruction.Action Plan
There’s not much to do here because conventional schools are opting for this mode of teaching. It is a method that is being applied for centuries. It remains ever popular because it has probably been the oldest. But to create a more innovative approach here, the teachers can employ both the visual and linguistic learning approach together.
There are various students group who have a higher inclination toward subjects that are related to math and logic. For them, demonstration of passion towards mathematical/logical intelligence demonstrates skill with numbers and problem solving. On the whole, they tend to think abstractly and analytically. They do well when instruction is logically sequenced. But that is not really a knack that everyone has.Action plan
The mathematical or logical approach can be given a whole new twist with the use of other modes of learning. In this reference, one notices that students who don’t enjoy the mathematical or logical group that much respond much better to visual approaches or even the use of bodily explanations. In particular, the younger groups adapts to the same at a much faster pace.
This is a group of students that responds or exhibits bodily/kinesthetic intelligence. And as you may have guessed, they are the ones who very good motor skills and are coordinated. On the whole, you will notice that this group tends to learn the best through hands-on activity: games, movement, role-play, and building and manipulating things.Action plan
Here teaching methods to meet the needs of all learning styles can be creative and more interesting. Classroom activities can be planned around enhancing motor and hand-eye coordination via video games or digital processes. Also, this is a group that is excellent in sports and would have an inclination towards the same.
There are students who tend to do very well in musical/rhythmic intelligence learn through songs, pat- terns, rhythms, instruments, chants, listening to music and various other forms of music. They are the artistic lot with a knack for dancing, music and sound.Action plan
Usually this group responds very well to a combination of visual and rhythmic teaching methods. Hence audio-visual combination is something that really works well for them.
This is a rather complicated group when it comes to emotions because you will usually find this group to be more focused on introspective modules and in touch with their feelings, values, and beliefs. Action plan
This is a group that perhaps needs more time alone to reflect on their learning and how it relates to them. Being more of the introvert lot, the teachers include methods like group activities and teaching to help them overcome this shyness quotient.
Again, opposite to the above category, this is a group that demonstrates interpersonal intelligence and these are a lot that are more outgoing, sociable, and people-oriented.Action Plan
For these students the learning happens best when working in groups or interacting with others. So more of group activities, combined with the above plans would really work.
In the year 1966, another intelligence aspect was added to this list, which included students whose forte is naturalist intelligence. These are a group of students who tend to demonstrate an ability to find patterns in the natural world and the plant and animal life therein. Action plan
This is a group that is able to learn faster on the basis of classifying and visual discrimination activities. They are the ones who are especially when environmental education is involved. So for them field trips and gardening are two activities they enjoy!
As a teacher or educator, you might be wondering how to incorporate these trends and design teaching methods to meet the needs of all learning styles. Well, the first step here would be to sort out your kids on the basis of these intelligence levels. You would just need a rough idea on this. Asking your school counselor or psychologist would be the best way to go about it. They can give you a clearer picture on who’s who. But again, this would not really apply to the very smaller classes, as they are yet to understand and develop these natural traits. Here is a sample action plan-
So just think of your classroom as a garden that has diverse flora and fauna. All your students are a part of this diverse group and you are tending to them as a gardener. In simple words, unification through the modes of learning is what you are going to focus on. Designing teaching methods to meet the needs of all learning styles includes providing them with a certain set of activities that helps them in exploring and expanding their repertoire.
For the visual group, you can enhance the teaching methods using different kinds of drawings or paintings that would describe a particular activity. For instance, if you are teaching history, visuals and images from the past tend to really have a positive effect on the learning process.
For the verbal group, you don’t have to bother much. Ask them to read out loud in class and have interactive sessions that encourage them to speak out. Recordings and audios in particular combined with videos work for this group and also cater to the above.
For the Mathematical/Logical group, you can opt for conducting experiments or having debate sessions. With grouping and debating processes as part of interactive learning, logic and reasoning would be applied to. Something that this group really enjoys.
Along with this, combined group activities that help in bringing out core strengths of the students should be focused, which work for all 8 different groups. Doing so is relatively easier. For a little twist of the naturalist group, you can make an attempt of field trips.
On the whole, a bit of modification in the entire process of learning and the instructional components would go a long way when it comes to designing teaching methods to meet the needs of all learning styles. Through these modes, core knowledge and strengths of the students are focused on and this way not only do students show readiness and willingness to learn more but also takes a keen interest in the overall learning process. Some props that can be used here include
- Different kinds of level text material
- Supplementary materials
- Multiple audio-visuals
- Visits to interest centers
- Varied time allotments for weaker students
- Using diverse technology of all sorts, including tablets and computers
- Modifying the instructional strategies
- Cooperative learning
- Including active community resources, such as speakers and field trips
- Giving smaller but extensive assignments
- Using more of interactive worksheets
- Positive feedback and encouragement.
- Simpler director process
- Introduce newer challenges in an innovative way to pique interest
- Provide opportunities for all students
At the end of it, you provide for every student with a few changes. With a little practice and patience, incorporating these methods, you will notice that one can actually design and incorporating a teaching methods that suits different styles and requirements.