Effective teaching practices for the primary-level teacher

Career & Education

Effective teaching practices for the primary-level teacher

Dr Karla

Sunday, September 29, 2019

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The teaching career is a challenging, unpredictable and mentally exhaustive profession. Nonetheless, it is thought of worldwide as one of the most rewarding careers. Teaching strategies vary with the age group of our students, and teachers must be prepared to handle situations and to effect learning using a variety of methods.

Today, I wish to focus on primary-level teachers. Teachers have malleable and highly impressionable students within their care. This therefore means that your impact potentially remains with a child for the rest of his or her life. Your impact also formulates and forms the root of the student's outlook on education.

With the introduction of the new Primary Exit Profile, it becomes even more significant that our teaching practices be examined and improved — there is always room for improvement. It is now evident our education system needs to move students beyond parroting information that is presented to them to understanding information. This is best begun at a young age.


1) Chunking — Make the material to be learnt more memorable by taking it slow. Chunking is the art of teaching in small doses rather than large chunks. The area in our brains designated to information processing is actually quite small, hence, when asked to learn too much material at one time, students may get overwhelmed. For chunking to be effective, a teacher must ask numerous questions in different ways after teaching small bits of information.

2) Utilise the blackboard or whiteboard — Children at primary level will find it difficult to take notes from dictation. Dictating notes is also very ineffective as it utilises only the sense of hearing. It is best to utilise your whiteboard or blackboard to record important facts etc. This ensures that the child 'sees', 'hears' and then 'does', by writing major points down.

3) Use manipulatives as much as possible — Manipulatives are hands-on tools that make subjects such as mathematics a lot easier for young children to understand. Tools like Lego, clay and wooden blocks can demonstrate how mathematical ideas work.

4) Use storytelling scenarios — Incorporate stories in teaching your range of subjects. This is especially effective in teaching the core subjects (mathematics, social studies, English and science) where students can visualise the concepts applied to everyday life and therefore recognise the relevance of these subjects.

5) Start a garden — I personally believe that this is an exercise that should be encouraged in both primary and secondary education. All students need to understand how to grow their own food and, depending on the age of the student, one can go into greater depth and explore the science behind agriculture.

6) Encourage effort —Children need acknowledgement and encouragement. They need to know that their efforts are recognised, even if that 'A' grade is not achieved. Congratulate your students for the small steps and not just the big jumps. Provide constructive feedback which is specific. This will build intrinsic motivation.

7) Get to know students individually — Teachers must get to know their students as unique individuals. Know your students' strengths, abilities, needs, challenges and interests — and most importantly, discover their best method of learning. Individual attention is strongly suggested in the early years. It is also important to have a reciprocal relationship with your students' families so that a partnership is formed for the betterment of the student.

8) Conflict resolution —Undoubtedly, children will have conflicts with their peers, especially on the playground. As adults, we must assist students in finding positive ways for negotiating their differences. Clear rules and behavioural expectations need to be repeatedly communicated to children. Speak to each child, explaining why the behaviour is considered inappropriate and suggest alternative means of handling the situation.

9) Keep your cool — If you want children to listen to you, lower your voice. There is no point arguing with a child, therefore always maintain your calm. Shower your students with love and a caring and compassionate heart and you will definitely have a more responsive classroom.

10) Model creativity — stimulate your student's imagination by utilising a variety of teaching tools that promote interest and participation. Make learning fun, exploratory, applicable and exciting.

Dr Karla Hylton is a UWI lecturer and the author of Yes! You Can Help Your Child Achieve Academic Success and Complete Chemistry for Caribbean High Schools . She operates Bio & Chem Tutoring, which specialises in secondary-level biology and chemistry. Reach her at (876) 564-1347, biochemtutor100@gmail. com or khylton.com.

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