As I mentioned in my earlier posts, I worked with a class of students repeating level A for the third time. When asked if I had volunteered to teach them, my answer was “YES”, and everyone was shocked to hear that. They thought there had to be something wrong with those particular students because they had not been able to make any progress at all.
I agreed with those who thought so, but I did not think that the students could be responsible for the ‘wrong’. I believed that they could be changed, and everyone could be proven otherwise. There was no doubt in my mind that no student deserved to be considered a failure.
As those of you following my blog will remember clearly, I was able to establish effective learning habits with that class of A-repeaters. I admit that it was not an easy task, and there was resistance from students at first, but they were transformed through perseverance. At the end of the 8-week module, 14 of the 18 students who took the end-of-module exam managed to get a pass.
How did that happen? What did I do to turn things around?
1. I got them to believe in themselves: I frequently talked with each student either during the breaks or office hours, found out about their learning styles and needs, devised my lessons accordingly and showed them that they were able to learn.
2. I got them to care about learning: Once my students were confident, they became more interested in the lessons. I could see their enthusiasm, and that encouraged me to push them further.
3. I got them to attend classes regularly: The class was well aware that each lesson taught was related to what had been done before. Therefore, they always had a reason for coming to classes.
4. I got them to participate in lessons: It became possible to involve them in lessons by encouraging co-operation and interaction with ach other, which I was able to do by designing learner-centered teaching plans.
5. I got them to study outside the school: There was not a day when I did not ask my students to prepare an assignment related to the topic of any one lesson. It certainly helped, and they began to take more responsibility for their own learning, thus developing a habit of revising and reflecting.
6. I got them to ask questions: When there was a problem, it was not me who gave students the solution. Instead, I encouraged the class to ask questions about the nature of the problem, which led them to think critically and come up with answers in the end. This made learning more meaningful and concrete.
Today, I am a strong supporter of the idea that there can be no boundaries to stop anyone from achieving any one thing. It is only a matter of realizing one’s potential and working to reveal it to the fullest extent. The old English proverb “When there is a will, there is a way” best explains the power of belief.