I bring my coaching head and want to design the course around the students. So after the first week with two of the groups, which was a case if sink or swim (the latter thankfully) I decided that I needed to know more about the students, so I needed to ask them! All the courses I have run before for canoeing or climbing or archery, the groups have been generally smaller and more motivated rather than you have to do this to pass your other course (the one you are more interested in - hopefully). So it has been quite easy to engage the students with chat to see their motivation and aims for the course. Two of my classes are big - 21 or up to 39 (only in the 20s turn up though). I decided to use a profiling exercise that I have used for a foundation safety and rescue course - a list of topics with a scale of zero to six (with words that indicate what each number means) asking students to rate their perceived ability. Clearly with maths I could set them a test, but this could be quite demoralising, so asking them what they think they know perhaps is easier to comprehend. I am aware that there are downsides to such a method, in that confidence and self belief will have influence on the answers too, but I think that is relevant anyway when teaching any subject.
The results have been fascinating. I expected that each group would highlight a different area as being the least understood, but no all three groups highlighted the same topic - trigonometry. How interesting and makes for the next lesson preparation to be the same for each group. We'll do all about right angled triangles and introduce not just trig, but Pythagoras Theorem too. I want to mix up the teaching style throughout the course so I hit as many of the learners as possible and also use active methods as much as possible. In maths I also think practice is important, particularly of exam type questions, so that students recognise the maths required from a particular problem.
Being available to students to listen to their needs, their worries and their hopes is also important and part of "coaching" I think. I have students have told me how they expect the course to be delivered (awful term I know, but accurate in this case). They expect me to "tell them" - as if I can beam the information straight into their heads. I will need some success in using other methods for them to get them on board. I really want all the students to recognise that the learning is their responsibility. I will try to enable them, build confidence and supply the right information, but I am also hoping that with the range of expertise that the students can learn from each other, and research, books and elsewhere.
Hopefully I can set up a wiki page where we can share the snippets of learning/methods, games, worked examples that they & I come up with.
In Rogers (2007:33) explains the need to know the existing knowledge and then devise building blocks to subtly help students learn with tasks and practice to reinforce the knowledge. I think there is more to that as I need to make it relevant and applicable. Where students are motivated to pass the exam, this is easier, but where the students are their because they have to be t is harder. I need to know more about their skills outside maths! The relevance is important bacause as Rogers implies the older memory is not so good (short term anyway) - I would concur with this!! So talking and demonstrating is okay, but not enough.
"The core art of teaching adults is to find alternative ways of conveying ideas and information." Rogers (2007; 38)
However , convincing all the students that me talking is not a good thing may take some convincing. So my plan is to take the active coach that I am for canoeing, where different methods of going forward can be ok, but then need refining. Lots of questioning and practice in different situations, so show how useful these methods can be. Wish me luck!