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How to understand your learners better as a teacher

Understanding your learners is not something you can rule out as insignificant, even though you can teach without understanding your students. Understanding your learners will help you by;

  • Providing a basis for you to counsel and advise students
  • Enabling you to help students academically
  • Helping you properly control the class

However, having an active career means you teach hundreds or even thousands of students at the same time, making it hard for you to learn each one of them well. Below are the ways through which you can understand your learners.

1. Learn names

This is like the primary technique for all teachers that seek to understand their students better. However, knowing a student by name doesn’t mean you know all about them, but it helps you in ways like;

  • Helping you identify  your students better
  • Putting you in the position to learn more that you didn’t know about them
  • Giving you a leeway to have conversations and understand them better

Learning names can seem hard on first glance, but there are lots of smart techniques that can get you up and running.

2. Share goals

Goals define us, what we love, what we prioritize and how we approach things in life. Letting your students set goals and share them with you puts you in a better position to understand them even better. This is because;

  • Their goals show what they treasure and/or value
  • Helps build self-confidence in the students
  • Makes you help them chase and achieve their goals

So many students are afraid of sharing their goals with their friends and family because they’re afraid of being discouraged or judged. Therefore, showing them that you deserve their trust is the first step to make them share goals.

3. Know their friends and family

All students come from different family backgrounds, and this explains why they behave differently while at school. This also explains why they pick the friends they pick.

By knowing their friends and family, you’ll get to know the kind of people they are and what you can do to solve the different mental and physical troubles they face.

4. Talk to their parents

There’s a lot of stuff you’ll probably never know about your student before you interact with their parents. Major examples of these include;

  • What works best for them
  • Their medical profile
  • Abilities and disabilities
  • How best they can be controlled

Of course, some parents will have that reserved attitude because they believe that they could make things far worse if they gave you even the deepest secrets they know about their children.

5. Student assessment

Students are always assessed in order for teachers to understand them better. There are very many forms of assessment and some of them include;

  • Tests
  • Exams
  • Group projects
  • Homework

As a teacher, constantly assessing your students will put you at a better advantage to understand key things like;

  • How hard they work
  • Their attitude toward learning
  • How they work under pressure
  • What can be done to improve their academic performance

Therefore, assessment is one of the best practical ways to get to understand your students far better than you know them, if you do it mindfully.

6. Group them

While every student is seated alone and staring while you’re pacing around the room, it’s hard to learn them or even notice who’s learning and who isn’t. However, grouping them will help you identify key things like;

  • Their capacity to help or ask for help
  • How they can work together with other students
  • Whether or not they can learn better alone or in a group

Even though this isn’t like the perfect way to study and understand a student, humans are social creatures – and we usually reveal out traits while we’re around other humans like us.

7. Ask questions to test their character

There are certain questions that psychologists usually use to test people’s character and personality. Even though they’re not usually 100% accurate, the following questions can usually give you a hint on who the students really are;

  • What would you do?
  • How do you perceive this?
  • What would you choose?

While you ask these questions, make sure you take note (or even write down) their answers, because these can help you draw informed conclusions.

8. Listen to them

Most times, teachers fall into the trap of being the only ones speaking. This is specifically because students are considered inferior and relatively unwise. However, it’s important to listen to your students talk about things like;

  • Personal challenges
  • Their perspective on different things
  • How they understand what you teach them
  • Their suggestions on how to improve the way you teach

Of course, there has to be a limit to how much you can or can’t listen to as a teacher because students can easily go from respectful to insolent even though they don’t mean to.

9. Co-curricular activities

Through organizing co-curricular activities, we can get to find out a lot more about our students than we actually know. These include;

  • How students work in a team
  • What they enjoy or dislike
  • Whether their participation in co-curricular activities hinders or helps their academic progress

Co-curricular activities are a great tool if you’re keen, observant and capable of understanding the dynamics of the activity, or else you won’t be able to notice the key things in every activity.

10. Check their disciplinary record

Every student has their own disciplinary record. That is how they’ve been behaving and how many penalties they’ve received for their misconduct. As a teacher, looking at this will help you on things like;

  • How to advise them
  • Dealing with their crimes

Even though your students will be hard to handle sometimes, knowing exactly what you’re up against will help you have a clear perspective on them and help you find solutions.

Final thoughts;

You can’t be perfectionistic or even extreme about learning your students, because it’s endless. However, there are lots of similarities between students that will give you a perfect way to deal with and get the best out of them without having to know their personal details and history. 

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