Choose one of the case studies below. Think about how the knowledge you have acquired so far about the brain and learning could help the teacher deal with the situation described in the case study you have chosen. Add your personal views to your portfolio.
Pedro has attended EFL classes since he was a kid. His native language is Portuguese. Pedro is a demonstrably clever thirteen-year-old boy who has the ability to use English fluently. However, in his EFL classes he misbehaves, disturbs his companions, insists on responding to his teacher in Portuguese, and is perpetually distracted and restless. His teacher calls his attention every single class with no effective result. Pedro almost never does homework, fails marginally at the end of the semester, is benefited by the bonus class opportunity, and ends up passing with a low final average. Pedro is infamous among the group of teachers in the institution.
What I would have said before doing this course: “Pedro clearly lacks motivation. He needs to take control of his learning.” I would try and help with this, but probably give it up as a bad job.
What I would say now: “How can I figure what Pedro is interested in and discover existing networks?” Understanding what he thinks and the nature of his prior experiences/knowledge will allow the teacher to hopefully have better insight into his neuronal connections. Pedro needs to take control of his learning. Ask “How can I help Pedro engage with English? What interests does he have that might be fed by English? How can I engage his emotions through English?” 13 yr old boys usually have some passion that can be linked to English eg soccer players in the Premier League. From The science of learning summary reading. “The teacher’s role is to arrange conditions and challenges in ways that engage the learner.”"People cannot stay motivated enough to learn unless they experience some success… It’s the teacher’s job to find a pathway to success”.
Victoria has learning difficulties and copes with the problems connected to her parents, who are in the process of a tempestuous divorce. Her major difficulty lies in keeping a focus on the subject, but she really wants to learn. Her teacher sends her regularly to emergency help classes and she attends hopefully, but the results are less than their mutual desire. The teacher also contacts Victoria’s parents at predictable intervals, asking for their input and encouragement with regard to homework and study for tests. Victoria is afraid of her parents’ reaction to her low grades. She’s also afraid of being in the spotlight, so it’s hard to get her to participate in class.
Clearly Victoria’s learning difficulties stem from the trauma she is currently experiencing. As Janet Zadina suggests “The best way to reach the student is through emotional engagement and activity. Expect disorganization, forgetfulness, day-dreaming, and working memory problems. It may look like a student is angry, or bored, or disengaged, but that may be the trauma. Rework your lessons to temporarily require less demand on planning, critical thinking and organization. And change your expectations.” All very well, but a bit tricky when you have 24 other students in the class, all with their own needs.
I guess that institutional contexts and students’ home situations are contributing factors to not always succeeding in getting every student back onto the learning path. But I like the fact that I’ve got some more skills through the last five weeks to encourage me to keep trying!