The Teacher as a Learner

December 24, 2007 at 10:04 pm Leave a comment


Teaching and learning are processes that are inseparably linked together. Teachers are professional learners. Good teachers are able to incite students with a desire to learn. Effective teachers are able to stimulate students to learn specific types of things. You cannot learn somebody something. Teaching is guiding another person to opportunities for them to learn something. Designed properly, these experiences will result in learning with the desired outcome. There are a number of factors involved in designing the learning experience. Most often teachers need to rely on their own instincts to develop these learning experiences.

I teach- you learn. It sounds like “caveman” talk. You can “teach” all you want but without the pupil involvement, there is no learning. Pupils have to be sold on learning. Teachers are salespersons. As any good sales person will know, there are four steps to a successful sale. First the customer must realize they have a need. Second, a means must be shown to satisfy their need. Third, the means leads to this particular product as the product that best fulfills the need. Finally, the salesmen must show that the customer needs this particular product now and close the sale with a purchase.

Teachers perform these basic four steps of salesmanship. Teachers must convince their students that they have a need. Education can satisfy the need that they have. Learning this particular aspect of education fulfills their need. And learning it now closes the deal. This goes to the heart of an educational principle: All children have a basic human drive to learn. Like the person who has their heating system fail in the middle of winter, not much is needed to demonstrate that they have a need. A child is not very much different, this child has a basic need to learn. A salesman convinces that a furnace fulfills that need and this brand of furnace will be just right. The teacher’s job is to convince the student that education fulfills that need and learning in this classroom is the brand of education needed Both the salesman and the teacher has to sell the “customer” that the solution is now and here!

Parents, friends and teachers mold what children learn. The age of the child determines the relative influence of each group. In the past thirty years, television and the Internet have to be added to the list of influences. Recent research has indicated that these electronic sources may have a greater influence than what is desirable. In this writer’s opinion, the human influences far outweigh the electronic influence. When the human influence is lacking or inadequate, the electronic influence dominates. In order to be effective as teachers, these electronic influences must be incorporated as learning tools. Both TV and the Internet must be exposed for what they are- phenomenal opportunities for learning when used properly.

Children are sitting in the classroom eager to learn (whether they know it or not!). Teachers must now provide the opportunities for these students to channel their need into a constructive learning experience. Teachers need to understand the age group that they are teaching. Principles of learning theory are instrumental for teachers to create successful experiences for their students. It is important that the teacher understands how a student learns. Piaget has become a “buzz word” in education. This Swiss psychologist provided a framework of appropriate levels of learning. Vygotski’s Social Development Theory indicates a cultural twist to Piaget and provides the social aspect to learning. Good and effective teachers are aware that there are many theories of learning. These theories were developed for the most part by psychologists. Successful teachers are aware that no one theory has all the answers. Teachers utilize whatever aspect of the learning theories work for them and their students.

Most teachers are aware of Pavlov, Skinner, Gardner, Gagne and the list goes on and on. Teachers are artists and scientists. They put these scientific theories into practice in the classroom and observes what works for them and their pupils. The artist in the teacher creates the environment that these scientific practices can work in. Of course, the salesmen in the teacher sells the pupils that what they are doing will work. When the teacher puts it all together it will result in a amazing miracle- a child learning!

Teachers are the expert learners. They must transfer their abilities of learning to their students. The single most important consideration to keep in mind is that students do learn in different ways. There has been a wealth of studies performed about this idea. Teachers have always known that students do learn in different styles. Multiple Intelligence, Right-left side of the brain, constructivism- the list goes on and on. Each of these theories carries something of interest for the teacher. Gathering little pearls of wisdom from each theory the teacher is able to develop a personal learning theory that works for them and their pupils. Teachers have been accomplishing this for years.

Teachers must also remember that a classroom is a social setting. It is designed for human interaction. Utilizing the basic human instinct of socialization, the teacher can forge this to the advancement of learning in the classroom. Social skills vary widely in children. Cultural, genetic and family conditions strongly dictate an individuals social ability. The teacher must become a teacher of social skills. It is an underlying aspect of effective teaching. Teaching the curriculum through the development of social skills elaborates a student’s learning capabilities.

Children enter the classroom with basic knowledge that the teacher has to build upon. An effective teacher can tap into these past experiences and help a child construct a broader concept. Learning does not begin with a blank mind. This is a point of many classroom difficulties. Children who lack a concept of letter shapes cannot be expected to learn reading until the letter recognition is present. Any good teacher knows this! Yet the demand for “standardized test scores on level” have created a pressure to assume that this has already been constructed and the teacher begins building a foundation-less structure. Teachers need to be careful not to be swayed by the external influences to achieve successful learning in their classrooms. Given valid opportunities, children will learn.

Children learn through experience. Today’s buzzword is “hands on” experiences. This is hardly new, as are any of the learning theories. Good teachers have practiced many of these ideas for years. Children learn by doing. How did a teacher learn their material so well, they taught it! If a person wants to learn something, teach it to someone else. They learn by doing. Children learn to read by reading. Children learn math by doing math. Children learn to think by thinking! Children learn social skills by socializing. Students learn through experience!

In conclusion, the role of the teacher is to effectively excite a captive audience to learn. Teachers are actors. They perform each and every day in front of a captive audience of another generation. The teacher is a learner each and every minute of their life. Listen and observe your pupils and learn. Years of teaching has shown that I am still learning.


Entry filed under: Teachers.

The Teacher as The Communicator The Teacher as The Planner

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

December 2007
« Nov   Jan »



%d bloggers like this: