IT'S USEFUL AT TIMES TO HAVE A FRESH PERSPECTIVE TO “MAKE THE GRADE.” WITH THIS IN MIND WE HERE AT OUTLOOK-12 HAVE CREATED A SPECIAL COLUMN WHERE YOU, OUR READERS, CAN WRITE TO US WITH YOUR PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL QUESTIONS AND GET PERSPECTIVE AND INSIGHTS FROM OUR RESIDENT AWARD-WINNING EDUCATION VETERAN AND CONTRIBUTING COLUMNIST GARY COOPER. AN EDUCATOR FOR MORE THAN 45 YEARS, GARY HAS TAUGHT STUDENTS FROM NURSERY SCHOOL TO COLLEGE AND IS ALSO A GUIDANCE COUNSELOR.
Q: What are learning models? I was a primary grade teacher for 17 years and have been serving as principal in a K-4 school for the last eight years. I recently attended an educational seminar with three of my teachers. Two of the presenters discussed learning models both claiming that this is the new wave in teaching. Although I was aware that my three teachers had altered their style of instruction, I didn’t realized that this style actually had a name. After the conference, they directed me to this magazine. I read your article “Hope Dictates Effort for Successful Students.” My teachers call this the “Cooper Model.” Personally, I’ve never heard of you. I read your column and was impressed. Can you tell me more?
A: In a recent survey, 79 percent of administrators and teachers believe learning models need to be investigated more. During the 70s and 80s, the catch phrase was matching learning style to teaching style (i.e. tactical learner to hands on teacher, visual learner to instruction involving observation and auditory learner to frequent lectures). This new approach is not that radical but changes focus on why children learn or more importantly why they don’t. Simply, if a student perceives a path to success, they will put forth greater effort. I urge all teachers regardless of grade or circumstance to challenge your students and don’t dumb down your lessons. Students working together in groups and almost all assignments should receive a grade. Now problems often occur during transitions from one lesson to the next, so all classes and definitely primary grades in particular need to have either a classroom library or access to books in a school library since the majority of group learning students spend their time in silent reading. Many teachers tell me that that single element of instruction is most beneficial to overall class harmony. As the principal, I suggest you allow your teachers currently utilizing learning models to offer assistance to fellow teachers who are interested in trying this style. I hope we can stay in touch and welcome aboard to the future of teaching.
Q: I am the director of guidance for my urban school/district. One of my many tasks is to interview perspective counselors for my district. I always ask during this meeting that they describe the function of a guidance counselor. One of these interviewees stated, “A counselor needs to reduce the pain of the past and offer the promise of the future.” I asked her if this was an original thought. She told me that she had read this in your column. I now have all my guidance counselors read your column, and I’ve hung a sign in my tiny office that reads, “Guidance counselors reduce the pain of the past and offer the promise of the future.” Mr. Cooper, can you offer any additional thoughts for my staff and myself?
A: Never forget that a good guidance counselor is the glue that keeps a school working well. Do your job well, and students, teachers, parents and administrators will turn to you to alleviate most problems. Counselors should be amongst the most pragmatic educators in all schools. High school graduates often state that their guidance counselor was the most memorable adult during their entire learning experience.
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