In an article written by Laura Erlauer-Myrah (2006) entitled “Applying brain-friendly instructional practices: one principal’s advice: start with a group of motivated teachers to plant the seeds of climate change,” the various approaches of successfully implementing a successful learning experience to the students are highlighted. This article has specifically stated that the method of “brain-friendly instructional practice” that will be facilitated by highly motivated teachers will provide higher educational results.
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It is further highlighted in this article that the teachers are not the only ones who should facilitate better instructional practices because the principal can also play a significant role. Each and every student is very important for the school (for the teachers, principals, administrators, etc). It is all the more important for the schools to know that the students are learning.
“To effect change in students, every member of the educational institution must work through each teacher. “ (Erlauer-Myrah, 2006)
This statement from the article is true and can be easily verified. This is the foremost reason why it is highly suggested that every member of the school administrators are encouraged to join in the student learning facilitation. Hence, even the principals are now expected to join the teachers to facilitate student learning activities.
It should be noted that principals rise from their ranks because they have served as teachers before. This would of course mean that, like the teachers, they have also learned about the brain-compatible instructional strategies, thus they have a very good opportunity to share and/or advise the students. The principal should be in the best position to determine the most effective way to accomplish this sharing among faculty (Erlauer-Myrah, 2006). By being in the top position within the school, principals can then maximize their position by doing the most effective way of enhancing students’ learning.
One of the principal objectives of education is to ensure that children learn increasingly varied and complex skills of self-management or self-regulation. The promises and possibilities of teaching self-regulation skills to children are bountiful. Students may be able to complete a task with limited or even without teacher assistance. Children, in general, may be able to apply previously learned skills in a new setting, develop self-assurance and esteem, or effectively settle and resolve arguments and conflicts with peers without adult intervention. As students develop skills of self-direction, they become less dependent on others to provide direction and incentive for their own behavior, which is in fact the very premise of human development and maturity. In the classroom, both students and teachers benefit directly from the shift away from exclusive teacher management of student behavior to increasing student self-management of their own actions. In the homes, children and parents also benefit as parents learn to trust their children in the process and children slowly gain independence (Canfield, 1994).
Also, as principals, they can assist in promoting the most substantive change through supervision discussions with each teacher.
“To promote risk-taking, new ideas should be shared in a positive, helpful manner, not in a punitive fashion. Principals should also accommodate for the differing needs of each teacher as it relates to learning new instructional practices.” (Erlauer-Myrah, 2006)
Principals must always project the vision of education and continually reinforce with teachers and staff the “big picture” so that everyone continues to work toward the mission of the school. It is the responsibility and obligation of the principal to talk openly and frequently about his or her beliefs and commitments regarding inclusion.
Zalenik (as cited in Sergiovanni, 1992) contended that leadership is based on a compact that binds those who lead and those who follow into the same moral, intellectual, and emotional commitment. Principals develop this compact through purposing (Sergiovanni, 1995). He defined purposing as what principals do to bring about a cohesive, shared consensus to bond people together in a common cause and to define them as a community, in a way sufficiently loose to allow for individual expression. Purposing lets the staff know where the school is going in terms of inclusive practices, why it is going in that direction, and some ways of getting there.
Other suggestions offered in the article which are hoped to enhance the brain-compatible practices within a school include:
Maintaining an emotionally safe environment: To fully inspire students’ minds to learn the academics, teachers and the rest of the school administrators must first capture the students’ hearts. Every day should begin for each student with a warm smile and/or a handshake from staff members in the hallways (Erlauer-Myrah, 2006). This would of course mean that the staffs are not necessarily maintained behind their office desks.
Promoting good and proper body and brain movements
Teachers need not sit behind the teacher’s table nor be kept standing on one side of the classroom, either writing on the board or pointing something at the board. The teacher is actually suggested to move around, talk with the students and be with the students. He can initiate some classroom activities where students can also walk, talk and perform with or for their classmates.
Maintaining a balanced program is not an easy task. The educator or learning facilitator will always have to think about the successful learning outcome while managing to have a fun and exciting learning undertaking for the students. Thus, it is strongly recommended for any educator to use a variety of instructional materials that would enhance the quality of teaching. The use of visual aids, overhead projectors, PowerPoint presentations, and even video presentations are some of the most effective instructional materials. These materials are proven able to enhance the students’ interest in the subject matter and at the same time-proven effective in getting the message across to the students.
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Another challenge for the educators is making the right choice on what kind of teaching approach to use: decide theory first, the application first, or a mixture. As a teacher, he/she must know how to be flexible in the way he/she teaches. The teacher must know how to adapt to the various qualities and attributes of the students as well as with the kind of subject he/she is to teach. By maintaining an objective analysis with and every student coupled with the full understanding of the subject matter, the decision on whether to use the mixture of theory and application or just the theory or application can be managed easily.
Games are a good breather for the students. This does not only enhances successful learning outcomes but also offers an opportunity for the teacher and the students to get really bonded. Indeed, games reinforce learning and are proven useful activities that ensure better instructional practices. Some of the good games that can be used at school are word games, treasure hunts, and puzzles.
The article concluded that instructional practices are an integral part of the facilitation of learning. Effective facilitation of instructional practices coupled with the other aspects of teaching must be ensured consecutively so as to maintain successful learning undertaking for both the teachers and the students.
Needless to say, to be an effective teacher, it is not enough that the teacher knows how to teach the subject tasked to him/her, but also he/she must learn to keep and maintain the power of enhancing the students’ ability and skills through motivation. He/she must be well aware of how to be objective in his/her treatment keeping up with his ultimate goal, which is to teach and help develop the students in the best and proper way possible.
Article’s Possible effect on the Elementary Public Schools
This article can provide positive effects to elementary schools. It should be noted that the elementary students are the ones who are normally hard to teach. Because of their young minds, there will always be distractions. There are instances that these young students are very hard to motivate in terms of learning. Needless to say, teachers of elementary students are facing a very big challenge of promoting higher educational achievements for the students.
With the ideas presented in the article, the teachers then will realize the value of using valuable instructional practices in their methods of teaching. They will learn different techniques that will motivate the students to learn.
They will discover different approaches to minimizing distractions and using different activities to make the elementary students enjoy and do invigorating activities while learning.
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