The effective use of Teaching Strategies are one of the most crucial tools at the disposal of any Instructor/Teacher/Trainer. Before we delve into the myriad of strategies that can be used, let’s firstly look at trying to get to grips with the term “Teaching Strategies” and understand their significance.
What are Teaching Strategies?
Teaching strategies are essentially the strategies, methods and tools that an instructor uses in the classroom to;
- get their point across
- help learners comprehend the class content better
- help learners meet their goals
So, think back to when you attended Primary/National School. To help you learn your multiplication tables your teacher may have used repetition as a teaching strategy. Two times two is four, two times three is six, two times four is eight…….and so on.
Or, think of a time when you were an adult learner. Were you ever asked to group together with 1 or more of your fellow learners and think about a topic before writing your findings on a flip chart? If so, your teacher employed at least 2 teaching strategies here;
- Group Work
- Use of Flip Charts
These strategies were used to help you, as a learner, to get the best out of the topic and to help develop your understanding.
Why are Teaching Strategies So Important?
In essence, the importance of teaching strategies it is very simple. Teaching strategies are used to help learners to enhance their own learning and help them reach their goals. Carefully selected and matched strategically to the learning outcomes, course content and assessment methods, teaching strategies can play a vital role in challenging learners and promoting learning.
There are certain lessons and topics in which lectures are necessary. Although lecturing is a traditional teaching strategy, and works when time is a critical concern, it restricts instructor-participant interaction and should be limited, because it does not always create the most effective or interactive learning environment.
Depending on numbers, organise small groups of 2-3 learners to complete tasks or answer questions.This can be a very effective strategy to acquaint learners with each other and build interaction. Remember, some learners will work best in social-based teaching strategies such as group work. However, others will prefer to work through topics and problems individually.
Whole Group Discussion
The instructor questions learners as a group. Students participate by answering questions, providing examples or discussing a subject. This can be a great way of boosting interaction in the class. The Instructor must be wary of strong personalities taking over the discussion however.
Think, Pair, Share
Learners are first told to take a minute or two to think individually about a topic/subject/question. Learners are then told to pair up and share their thoughts with their partners. Each group can then share their findings with the class as a whole.
Participants usually learn more from actual hands-on practice. Providing participants with time to practice skills will greatly enhance their understanding and ability to perform when needed.
Participants role play various situations while others attempt to deal with the situation. This method provides for great interaction, however, participants must understand their roles and be willing to participate actively in the exercise.
Questioning can be a very effective teaching strategy employed by an Instructor. Ensure that questions are open-ended, i.e. require more than a yes/no answer, and that they are spread among the class. Grouping the class into 2’s and 3’s can avoid putting learners on the spot, i.e. looking for an answer from a small group of learners.
The Instructor carries out a full demonstration of a skill prior to asking learners to practice. The demo should be verbalised by the Instructor and broken into an easily understandable step-by-step approach. This gives the learner the best opportunity to succeed.
Refers to learners learning with and from each other. This can be achieved during group work exercises for example. Students learn a great deal by explaining their ideas to others and by participating in activities in which they can learn from their peers.
Assess Prior Knowledge
Assessing prior knowledge should be the backbone of each topic/lesson/module. At its simplest, we are assessing what exactly the learners knows in order to plan how we will get them to where they need to be. By assessing your learners, individually or as a group, you can get an accurate picture of exactly where you need to go with your instruction.
Further areas such as KWL and Flipped Classroom will be discussed in individual posts later.