Negotiating with learners
Every teaching programme or teaching/training cycle in theoretical terms begins with a minimum necessary amount of introductions. The teacher introduces the organisation, the programme and him or herself, and of course students get to introduce themselves to the teacher as swell as to each other.
Gravells & Simpson (2010) recognise this stage as induction and in their own words they state: ‘the induction process encompasses a range of information and activities preparing your learners for the programme’ and in the continuation to this statement they also say ‘for example, information, advice, guidance and initial assessment’.
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There is always a considerable amount of the legal information that the organisation itself is required to pass on to teachers and learners, as well as the information and requirements set by the organisation internally. In the first stage of the induction organisation and the teacher covers two main areas:
1. Housekeeping and related procedures (health and safety, the layout of the building and rooms, toilets, legal requirements, and rights relevant to the subject and the organisation, etc.)
2. The subject and the programme
In the same time there is the information that learners have to pass on to the teachers and the organisation as well, that being the information that is specific to them as individuals, and that could range from basic information via specific requests to a particular needs.
Gravells & Simpson (2010) describe: ‘induction aims to develop your learner’s independent learning habits, provide knowledge, and signpost towards any relevant support and guidance that is available; for example, a learner may require additional support for a disability they have disclosed to you’.
An important part of the early stage induction are also the icebreaker activities, as the teacher and the learners are getting to know each other and working on establishing a relaxed and motivating atmosphere in which the work can be done and learning achieved. Those first initial activities also lead to the first official moment in which the whole group becomes aware of itself, not just as a group of individuals but also as a class with the sense of involvement and ownership and with the teacher as their leader and the facilitator.
That moment is reached when the ground rules have been negotiated and agreed upon with the learners. Setting up the ground rules has a multiple importance for the entire learning process. Not only that such
act marks the official establishment of the class, it also enables a mature, respectful and academic communication, as well as showing the learners that the teacher is aware of them as individuals and that their input is recognised and welcomed.
Eventually the induction leads into, perhaps the most important phase of the induction – initial assessment.
Initial Assessment is the integral part of the learning process, and although it takes part at the very start of the programme with intent to determine learners’ needs, it produces the best results when performed as an on going process. It is the way of finding out the learners needs, negotiating learners’ individual goals and setting up the foundations for differentiation and inclusive learning.
Wilson (2009) opens her chapter on the initial assessment with a simple definition: ‘initial assessment is a term given to that part of the learning process that hopes to combine the learner, the teacher and the curriculum’.
Wilson (2009) also points out that in the teacher-curriculum-learner triangle the learner is the biggest variable.
Following on from that...