SPOILER ALERT: I’m going to get personal and invite you to ask yourself some tough questions. Stay with me. I promise you'll be glad you did!
At a recent educator’s convention, I interacted with a parent and teacher who was searching for a Grammar and Writing curriculum. I gently offered her some verbal information, a flyer about Shurley English, and gave her some space. I observed her leaf through the pages of an older, black and white version of the curriculum with convincing focus. Then, a confused look on her face invited me to initiate further conversation, so I asked her if she was looking for anything specific… “Grammar and Writing” was her response. I assured her she was in the right place and began sharing with her the big picture of how Shurley English makes the Grammar-Writing Connection. I let her know that our latest edition was in a digital format, she immediately said, “This isn’t for my son; I don’t want him on the computer because he gets too distracted,” and she bolted out of the booth. A surge of questions rushed through my head as I was choking on the dust her trail left behind. The question that lingered in my mind most was, “Is this curriculum not a good fit for YOU or YOUR CHILD?"
Learning styles are groups of common ways people learn. We all have a mix of learning styles that may suit us, and some learners have a dominant style. We utilize different styles based on the situation we are in, too. We are able to develop our less dominant learning styles and further develop our preferred style. This experience really nagged at me because the next question that popped up in my mind was, “I wonder if she even knows what type of learner her son is, and does she know what type of a learner she is?” Whether you’re teaching one child or 30 children, knowing students’ preferred learning style is vital to being an effective teacher! As a side-note, as an adult and life-long learner, life can be much simpler if you understand YOUR preferred style of learning.
Get familiar with these different styles of learning:
Sadly, many schools and teachers still use more traditional teaching methods which equates to a limited range of teaching and learning techniques. Sitting in individual desks (cubicles) and book-based teaching with lectures, reviews, and exams work for some learners, but not all, and many that don’t fit into that box have been labeled with behavior issues, learning disabilities, and even less intelligent. Hmmm? That would explain why I struggled in certain subject areas growing up, and why the field of Teaching was so appealing to me; I knew there were multiple ways to learn. We are all different, so why would anyone think that there is just ONE way to learn?
If you’re teaching Shurley English, I don’t have to tell you that our method of teaching and the strategies used are for ALL STUDENTS…Shurley students SEE IT, HEAR IT, SAY IT, & DO IT! As for my convention experience, I respect the parent-teacher’s opinion and decision, but I can’t help but wonder, “What if her child doesn’t learn in the exact same way she does? What if the child could be engaged in learning and not distracted while on the computer?” Did this teacher fail to consider the topic of learning style and just miss a huge opportunity for her son/student to become a competent, confident communicator…for life? Being an effective educator is not just about reading from the teacher’s manual in each subject, it’s all about getting below the surface-know your child, know your students, and know the curriculum you teach!