“A good teacher should have two sets of skills—a sound knowledge base and the ability to pass this knowledge on to students. Our tenth standard maths teacher knew his subject well, it was obvious to everyone. But the only kids who followed his teaching were the class toppers…he just assumed that everyone understood the subject. The rest of us couldn’t keep up with his pace or his explanations. And this was maths, where it is all about understanding and solving problems and not one of those subjects with long winding lectures!”

a young woman sighed her frustration at a school function.

teacher-at-board

A good teacher provides ‘access to information’ to all students in the classroom through a process of introspection. The following questions will help you understand your students’ needs and provide appropriate presentation accommodations in the classroom:

Does your teaching reflect your understanding of the student’s needs?

Is your student permitted to take breaks (for example, to drink water) while teaching is in progress? Do your lesson plans and materials reflect your students’ learning styles?

Do you use visual props to support the oral lectures?

Visual learners can use these as references, to help with comprehension, memory, and recall.

Are the lessons broken down into smaller sections, alleviating mental fatigue in the students?

In higher classes, most students have to be able to focus for longer periods. Pre-arranged breaks help those who can’t attend for a long duration

Do students have access to course syllabus and outline of the day’s lesson ahead of time?

Reading up the subject matter gives the student time to process information, identify questions, clear doubts, etc. and also reduces the anxiety of attending class.

Do you communicate your expectations on classroom participation?

Is the final grade based on individual sections (classroom participation, assignments/projects, tests, etc.)? Do your students have this information in writing?

Do you summarize at the end of the lesson, highlighting the important points?

Students with learning or behavioral needs have a difficult time identifying main points from all the information presented. When you summarize you target academic skill and study skills.

Do you give feedback on students’ performance in private?

This reduces any embarrassment for the student.

Can your student use a tape recorder to record the lesson?

This allows the student to focus on the lesson. He or she can always refer to the recording later for classroom notes.

Alternately, can a peer be assigned as the note taker?

The student can copy or make a photocopy of the first student’s notes. This saves a lot of tension and time.

Does the student’s schedule need to be modified?

Factors like side effects of medication can make a whole day at school difficult. Can you modify the timetable to help your student?

Are there alternate methods of presenting information

Are there alternate methods of presenting information to the student such as websites, books on tape, and such?