From the depths of a long, snowy winter, we are finally emerging and welcoming Spring 2011. Soon, the large snow banks will disappear and the muddy ground cover will turn to lush green fields and lawns. The crocuses, daffodils and tulips will be blooming and adding a rainbow of colour to our gardens.
Spring is a time of renewal and rebirth and this spring I’m working towards a renewal of my own personal fitness regime. I’ve joined a club and I’m working with a trainer. During my first couple of sessions, as I discovered muscles that have been dormant for a while, I couldn’t help but draw many similarities between my fitness journey and the journey that some of our students travel as they work their way through learning activities.
In order for students to improve, there needs to be many factors in place. They need the right tools such as reading material that will challenge them, but not frustrate them. They need a variety of learning opportunities . Similarly when I choose weights to lift, if I choose ones that are too heavy, I may damage muscle tissue, but weights that are too light, will not give me any noticeable results. I also thrive on a variety of exercises that challenge me to think about my body position and breathing techniques.
Teachers track student progress by collecting assessment information from diagnostic, formative and summative tasks. Together, the trainer and myself use a tracking system to record the intensity of some of the exercises and the number of repetitions. In order for me to get stronger, I need to increase my endurance and use my muscles in a variety of exercises. In order for students to get better, they need to practice their skills in a variety of applications.
Not unlike the trainer, who provides ongoing encouragement, support and feedback in the form of correct positioning, correct breathing etc., the teacher is integral to the success of a student’s ability to learn and improve. Teachers can be the greatest cheerleaders and encourage students on a daily basis. Teachers provide meaningful, constructive feedback which gives students information on how they can improve their performance.
“The task of the excellent teacher is to stimulate “apparently ordinary” people to unusual effort. The tough problem is not in identifying winners: it is in making winners out of ordinary people.” ~K. Patricia Cross