Thursday, July 28, 2011

Adult Modeling

As a successful teacher for many years, I have observed that one of the elements that is a significant help in teaching children, but is often overlooked or missed, is the importance of role modeling.  Not the role modeling of other students, though good student role models are certainly important, but the role model of another adult in the class,
modeling the role of an effective student or learner.  As a band teacher for part of my teaching career, I have often had classes of up to 80 students in the same room, at the same time, - all holding noisemakers pointed at me.  Effectively managing that kind of classroom situation is doable, but certainly challenging.  At times, during my band-classes however, I have invited visitors to the band-room, not as observers (i.e. principals, teachers, or media), but as participants in the band-rehearsal.  They would bring their own instrument, and sit in with the students, playing and learning the music together with them.  These visitors have been friends, band-directors from other schools, former students, or community members with an interest and an aptitude in music. These times have always been helpful to the class.
     There is always a distinct difference in the attention of the students when an adult role-model such as this has been part of my band rehearsals.  Students seem to be much more self-conscious of their own behavior and playing habits.  The students watch the adult listen to my instructions, or follow my gestures, and respond by listening and following more effectively themselves.  I've never instructed these visitors to do anything special, but as adults, they listen, respond and react much differently than a group of normal teenagers.  Seeing another adult model appropriate behavior in this way has always had a positive ripple effect in my band rehearsals.
     In my teaching of younger children, I have frequently been able to have an aide assist me in the instruction time of those classes.  In these cases, it was the role of the aide to model the desired learning characteristics that I wanted the students to exhibit.  Often, if the aide, (or as came to be the case, parent, or classroom teachers) who were participating in the instruction, saw that something was unclear, or needed further instruction, they would ask appropriate questions from a students standpoint to rectify the situation.  This adult modeling has always been an important part of the effective student learning in my classes, and one that as I mentioned, is often overlooked.  I believe it is one of the missed opportunities for schools and educators to help students help themselves.  We all understand that peer pressure is a significant factor in students behavior.  It is also significant in their learning experience, and when all students are ever exposed to is other children, most of whom have not developed good learning qualities yet,  the experience can often be detrimental.  In classrooms where the student to adult (teacher) ratio is 30 to 1, (40 to 1 in some schools), is it any wonder that students "act so immature" (as teachers have often complained.)  They are only modeling what they see.  If their home situation is such that there is not a great deal of parental or adult support provided, the problem is magnified.
Ron Zell

(c) 2011 by Eduarts4us. All rights reserved.

No comments: