Universities are sitting on their hands when it comes to teacher training

This is a post from a final student teacher from the University of Pretoria after 18 hours engagement in Great Teaching and Thinking Tools.

Here is her post on this on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/280845562380703/permalink/328577804274145/

“The critical thinking workshop has opened my eyes to a whole new way of teaching. The workshop provided me with many thinking tools and ideas which I can use to make my lessons more fun and interesting, which also encourages learner engagement in the lesson.

After the first four hour session, I applied the critical questioning techniques to one of my lessons. The results were eye opening as learners who usually remain quiet were eager to answer questions and share their opinions and experiences with the class. Previously I would explain new concepts to learners, but in this lesson I used questions to force learners to think and discover new concepts on their own. I also used the story telling method as a thinking scaffold, which learners could identify with and could draw from their real life experiences in order to participate in class discussions. This was a huge success as learners felt that they would never forget this section of work, because they understood it.

The course also changed my mind-set regarding a teacher’s role as a leader in the classroom as I now believe that a teacher should rather be a follower. In other words, a teacher needs to start with a learner’s inner speech and follow their ‘thinking’ in order to assess whether they are learning or not. This way no learner gets left behind as the teacher starts the lesson from the learners’ level of knowledge and builds on that by guiding learners to discover and achieve lesson outcomes themselves.

Another insight I gained from the first session, is the idea that learners should be the ones doing all the ‘explaining’ during the lesson whereas the teacher uses questions to guide them towards discovery. This way learners construct their own understanding/ comprehension of a subject as they need to reason with themselves and their classmates to answer the questions (thinking scaffolds) provided by the teacher.

At university level we are taught various teaching methods and are encouraged to use constructivism in the classroom, but regardless of the countless of case studies we analysed and the theory we studied, our ‘training’ has failed to teach us how to do this. The second session of the course expanded my teaching resources by introducing thinking tools. For example, analysing and synthesising on a surface and deep thinking level. In the classroom we strive for learners to reach deep thinking in a subject, but we forget that surface thinking is also a useful tool as it allows the teacher to access learners’ current knowledge and skills.
Using thinking hats in your lesson also ensures that different learning styles are accommodated in your lesson. Thinking hats can also be used as classroom management tools as learners may be asked to use a different hat in a situation which will require them to think about the situation in a different way, resulting in development of knowledge and skills.

My biggest ‘take-away’ from this course is that teachers need to change the idea that their role is to teach a subject to learners, because teachers should rather teach learners how to think. By doing this teachers will enable learners to use their skill of ‘thinking’ to develop and create their own knowledge, as well as become lifelong learners themselves.”

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