Thursday, November 10, 2005

Teaching/Learning Styles: Mix it Up!

Okay. I'll admit it. I'm a visual/verbal learner. I love words. I love to read, write, and take notes. And I love to see things in graph, chart, or picture form. It's how I learn best.

And, truth be told, I tend to use those styles when I teach. But if I use only those styles, I'll miss (and fail) many of the learners in my classes: not everyone learns the same way.

In prepping for our upcoming teacher training, I was again reminded of the need to use as many styles of teaching as possible; to mix it up; to plan teaching strategies around the many styles of learning (not just those I like best).

And this training curriculum (Teaching Adults: A Guide for Transformational Teaching, Leader Pack, LifeWay, ISBN# 0-6330-0849-4) does a nice job illustrating various teaching techniques (sorry, but I this curriculum has been discontinued and can no longer be purchased). The trainers in this curriculum categorize learning styles differently than school psychologists or other learning experts, but they cover just about any learning style found in the classroom.

Here are their learning style categories (adapted from Teaching Adults: A Guide for Transformational Teaching compiled by Rick Edwards):

  • Physical learners (need to move, use their hands, role play, stand, etc.)
  • Natural learners (learn best from illustrations or experiences related to nature)
  • Musical learners (engage most effectively through music)
  • Visual learners (need videos, object lessons, art activities, drawings or diagrams, etc.)
  • Relational learners (learn best through personal interactions or personal stories)
  • Logical learners (like statistics, methodology, inductive questions, outlines, etc.)
  • Verbal learners (appreciate word studies, quotations, headlines, paraphrase activities, etc.)
  • Reflective learners (like thought-provoking questions, meditation, journaling, Q & A, etc.)
I must admit that I rely far too heavily on verbal, natural, logical, and visual learning styles (as categorized above). I almost never use music, physical movement (for the students), or reflection in my lessons. I think perhaps I should.

How about you?

These trainers don't suggest using every approach every time; they suggest only that teachers be deliberate in the strategies they use and that they design their teaching strategies to the needs of the learners.

If our goal as teachers is student learning and life transformation, we should be willing to try what works best for our students, even if it's uncomfortable for us.

'Til next time,

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