Auditory Learners – What they are and how to teach them

Auditory (hearing) learners tend to show many of the following characteristics;

  • Likes to read to self out loud.
  • Is not afraid to speak in class.
  • Likes oral reports.
  • Is good at explaining.
  • Remembers names.
  • Notices sound effects in movies.
  • Enjoys music especially when relaxing
  • Is good at grammar and foreign language.
  • Reads slowly.

They also use words in sentences similar to ‘ that sounds right’ or ‘I hear what you are saying’

 

To keep an auditory learner engaged then the following are ideas to support the list above.

  • Hear a presentation or explanation
  • Encourage them to explain to another pupil (don’t forget some types of  assessment fit into this category)
  • allow them to read aloud to themselves or create a chant
  • make a video of key points to listen to
  • allow them to verbally summarise in their own words
  • allow them to practice e.g. spellings before trying to write it.
  • be aware that they may be using their own internal voice to verbalise what they are learning
  • Allow them to use a speech recognition tool

 

But be careful how you talk to them because … 

…Auditory learners have a knack for ascertaining the true meaning of someone’s words by listening to audible signals like changes in tone.

 

 

Student Participation

Encouraging the best from our young people in classroom situations can be daunting for new teachers, but the example below shows the benefit of well planned whole class teaching on full participation of the students.

In years gone by the stereotype for the classroom are groups of children with their hands up. This was usually the result of the teacher making a  statement e.g. We have been looking at structures and then asking for a response i.e. Put up your hands if you can think of any shell structures.

Despite the stereotypical media classrooms view that everyone ahs their hand up in reality;

  • Only a few will volunteer the information by putting their hands up
  • The teacher usually thanks or praises them
  • To check the rest of the class another few people will be asked and praised re. their contribution
  • This leaves a whole band of students who have said nothing and may know the answer but have not received praise.

Now we will look at a different way of answering the same question but achieving a result that means every students has had a voice. As currently snow and ice is the topic of weather conversation due to the Winter Olympics I suggest we call this idea snowballing.

The question is asked again but this time instead of hands up do the following;

  • Ask each class member to use a whiteboard or post it note to write down one idea
  • In pairs students share their ideas and come up with a  third idea ( 2 minutes is maximum time needed)
  • Join with another pair (creating  group of four) or collaborate as a table, exchange the examples and then think of a few more
  • Finally ask each group to feedback – or alternatively ask each member of the class to report back one idea from their group

This should make each child feel that they have participated and been heard and most if not all should receive praise.

There are many influences to the approach any teacher will use depending on a variety of circumstances and the topic, curriculum concept that has to be taught. Here are some examples;

  1. The motivation and behaviour of the students
  2. The complexity of the knowledge needed to be learnt
  3. The ethos developed by the teacher for that classroom i.e. is it more inquiry and thinking led or passive hands up?
  4. Cultural differences
  5. Class size
  6. Academic  and general language skills

 

 

Is the new OFSTED criteria and lesson observations creating even more mental health problems in schools?

The news story below hit a chord with me not only on a personal teacher level, but also as a consultant having worked in schools where not only one person lesson was judged inadequate, but the whole school. When schools are judged to be inadequate this same reaction holds true for the teacher in questions, the teachers as a whole, the auxiliary staff, the parents and the community.

The demotivating effect was instantaneous. I was so upset that I couldn’t go back into the classroom that afternoon. Instead, I went home and proceeded to do absolutely zero planning for the next day. For the rest of the week, my teaching was somewhat lacklustre because I was so wrung out by the distress of the observation. I felt ashamed of myself and unworthy of the responsibility of teaching a class of children. I started to feel overwhelmed by the possibility that I might be letting my students down. By the weekend, I was experiencing symptoms of anxiety.

http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/feb/15/secret-teacher-outstanding-inadequate-lesson-observations?CMP=new_54

This teacher was lucky as was I when a very similar incident happened to me. Thankfully a headteacher who knows the staff and school can make much better judgements.

At the time of my incident not only was I marked down by the lesson observer but was told to take a leaf out of one of my colleagues books. I was in disbelief, did he really mean the same colleague who before this planned pre-OFSTED observation had not planned but got myself and the head of department to do it for him, had the worst results of all of us and had the least respect of the students?

As you can imagine I did the same withdrew and wondered what to do, after a four page A4 handwritten letter to the headteacher and a subsequent interview I began to feel better, but all the time could not believe the system had let me and the school down so badly.

I keep reminding myself that, at the end of the day, I’m only in my second year of teaching. I will make mistakes in the classroom, miss things I should have picked up on and pitch the odd activity wrongly. But as long as my students are learning what they need to (and they are), my classroom is safe (and it is), and I am providing appropriate interventions for those children whose progress is less than ideal (which I am), then I know that I am doing my job – and doing it very well. Secret Teacher, Guardian

In my case I kept going for the students as for me that was why I was there, I believed in them and though sometimes I did things that were different (being the first female in the school teaching DT Resistant materials I had to sometimes), it was always about getting the best from my youngsters.

At the end of the year I was vindicated as my classes results were the best in the LA. To this day I have had no apology like the data protection act – everyone stood behind – it was what he saw in that 30 minute lesson! My classes results were also a shock in the wider area as we had many selective schools within our group, this gave me back my confidence.

Hence when this happened again a second time,  as before I had been observed by an external assessor as excellent then the next lesson observation made (by a consultant)  was equally as negative as the first about all aspects of the lesson, I could have been left thinking I was useless. What was equally interesting was the same lesson was observed weeks later by another teacher who didn’t change anything and they received a 1.  I realised the one thing that both the teachers who did really well had, that I didn’t, (and still don’t) is the gift of the gab. It was therefore at this point that I decided it was not worth worrying about as I knew my classes results were always the best, or in the top and that was my job.

Later on my confidence and experiences meant that I looked past lesson observation and looked for other things like genuine planning, understanding of curriculum areas, the rapport of the children and the work achieved to date, as well as observing over a period of time what is really happening in classrooms. In my consultants role to schools in Special Measures, serious weaknesses or needing improvement, I was always sad when the LA did not support the head, but used them as a scapegoat by sacking them. In my view this created even more confusion for everyone involved, it lowered the self-esteem of the whole building and anyone associated with it. It was like a fog over the whole area of the town.

Maybe this story will make people realise that one just one observation  can crush the very people we want to inspire and be role models to our learners, our parents and our communities. Using just one lesson observation as a yardstick for everything else is very dangerous. Having targets and expectations are great, but remember when writing or delivering any policy at the end of it there is a child or teacher doing their utmost.

As I go around schools now delivering EAL support I am very concerned that the new guidelines by OFSTED  (September  update) means that most schools will naturally fall by one grade due to the criteria. Where will it leave them?

These schools are doing the same as they always did, but suddenly they will find as it unravels that they are not at the top or are very close to needing some intervention. The only reason being because the criteria has changed, surely this isn’t a good enough reason to put more lives at risk of feeling inadequate, and all those mental health problem that then start feed into this system i.e. people with stress related illnesses, children self harming etc.

Only last week I was out with a group of people (supporting the national issue Time to change, Time to Talk). I began talking to one person who was at the time on their way to an appointment to their child’s school, they had been told their child will be excluded because they do not do failure. I was really surprised and ask for more detail but was then  horrified that  the school knew the child was self harming but their 99% pass rate was more important than the child just in case they had an OFSTED visit. Surely this is all the wrong way around, we have a duty to our children so lets start doing it.

What do you think?

I always loved the challenging discussions around Professional development when it was my job to arrange all In Service Training. The biggest question as with teaching children is how to get the best or relevant topics for your most experienced teachers as well as the new teachers. This is often a hard call as training together in a large hall means that probably the average educator gets more than the two ends of the spectrum unless the development topic is focussed on them. So I wholeheartedly agree with this idea as this allows personal development to happen within a structured and sound environment. I hope it proves useful for you.

Are we failing our bilingual students by language immersion?

There has been a few news items about bilingual teaching and the change to ELL  lessons where the student is unable to access prior experiences via their bilingual teacher.  It is very refreshing to read this from Helen Marques who has been through this process and who can also give such dramatic feedback about the difference these changes have made. I have highlighted in bold the items that I believe to be true from my classroom experiences.  The biggest impression I am left with is the drop out rate when their safety net within the classroom is removed…..is this what we are doing to our learners?

http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120727/OPINION/207270306

Creativity will develop English language learners

As the executive director of the Immigrants’ Assistance Center Inc., I feel obligated to express my deep concern regarding the high school dropout rate among students for whom English is not the first language.

In 1971, the bilingual education program was implemented. Although it was not a perfect model, it created a safety net for English Language Learners. Classes were taught by bilingual teachers so that when students could not understand the lessons, teachers were able to explain in the students’ native language. This encouraged learning by easing their frustration and promoting confidence.

As a product of bilingual education, I know how important it is to have that support system in place in the classroom. The bilingual program was eliminated in 2001 and replaced with the English Immersion Program. This removed that safety net and ELL students started to fall through the cracks of the educational system. That is exactly what has been happening for several years in the New Bedford school system.

In 2011, the high school dropout rate for English Language Learners was 63.3 percent in four years. That is an alarming statistic. I am aware that a group of more than 36 teachers and educators recently authored a plan for revising the education of ELLs in New Bedford. Three school committee members voted to urge the superintendent to move forward on the plan: John Fletcher, Joaquim Livramento and Marlene Pollock. I am grateful to these members for standing up for an often overlooked population.

In addition, I support the two proposals for innovation schools, Renaissance Community School for the Arts and Esperanza School of Language and Culture. They both address the needs of ELL students and all of the children of New Bedford.

New Bedford has a great opportunity to move forward by making changes for the benefit of all of the children of New Bedford and to make sure that they have the educational tools that they need in order to succeed.

Helena S. Marques

Executive Director of Immigrants’ Assistance Center Inc.

New Bedford