There’s little question as to how and why teachers are such important and influential figures in our children’s lives.
Not only are they imparting knowledge and skill, they are also having a huge impact on their student’s psychological and emotional development.
And the best teachers can navigate all of your child’s education needs while keeping them motivated and engaged with school life and the study materials.
A recent article in The Conversation has identified what exactly our children’s Educational Needs are, and what we need to look for to ensure they are being met.
Teachers are influential for their students in a number of ways:
In motivation and engagement.
‘Motivation refers to children’s inclination, interest, energy and drive to learn, work effectively, and achieve their academic potential.’
‘Engagement is the behaviour that accompanies this inclination and energy.’
The Motivation and Engagement Wheel highlights signs of both positive and negative motivation, and positive and negative engagement.
For example, signs of positive engagement include persistence and planning; negative signs include anxiety and fear of failure.
Signs of positive motivation include self-belief and focus; negative signs include disengagement and self-sabotage.
Being aware of and looking out for these signs can help you to assess if your child’s educational needs are being met.
Resilience and Adaptability.
Raising resilient children is an important topic in both child and educational psychology.
And developing skills in resilience is increasingly being implemented into the academic setting.
All children will face varying challenges through their school life (and beyond), and resilience is what enables us to deal with such adversity, while adaptability enables positive responses to change.
Research has identified two types of academic diversity: low-level everyday adversity, and major adversity.
Everyday adversity comes in the form of stress, disappointing results, or difficulties in the school setting — of which most students will experience at some point.
Major adversity is experienced less commonly, and can be triggered by mental health issues, learning difficulties, bullying or above-average difficulty with course work.
While everyday adversity can be overcome with the kind of resilience we expect our children will develop in schooling, major adversity will likely need professional help from a psychologist or health care professional.
Personal Best Goals.
The academic framework is largely comparative among students in the form of rankings and scaling.
But educators are increasingly realising the limitations of this kind of assessment…
‘Research shows it is beneficial to benchmark a student against him/ herself (not just against other students).’
This is a form of the Growth Mindset that we often discuss on the blog, and that is widely advocated by psychologists and parenting professionals.
A great teacher will help their students to set personal goals, and motivate them to perform to the best of their ability.
Load Reduction Instruction.
The way a teacher structures and sequences their classes is integral to a student’s ability to learn effectively.
Load Reduction Instruction refers to the ways teachers can reduce the information overload that can come with learning lots of new information.
A great teacher will make sure that learning outcomes are clear, appropriately paced, and structured with sufficient repetition and practice so key concepts are engrained.
Once skills and knowledge have been taught and understood, more advanced topics can be covered.
A child may fall behind in class for a number of reasons, but LRI should be appropriate and geared towards the majority of the class.
Interpersonal Relationships and Emotional Support.
Much like a psychologist and their patient, a good rapport between teacher and student can contribute significantly to the student’s success.
There are three key relationship principles between student and teacher that benefit the child’s learning:
- Interpersonal — the extent to which the teacher is interested in and supports the child.
- Substantive — the extent to which the child engages with the study materials.
- Pedagogical — the extent to which the child responds to the teaching methods employed.
These relationships are incredibly important in all aspects of the child’s life, especially with parents and carers, and they will benefit the most when parents and teachers are on the same page.
So, what do we do with this information?
If you feel that your child is suffering or lagging behind at school, it’s important to consider the varying factors that could be at play.
Your child could be suffering from emotional challenges, such as anxiety or depression.
Your child could be suffering socially at school or being bullied.
Your child may have a learning disability.
Or, one of the aforementioned aspects of the teacher/ student relationship could be inadequate for your child’s needs.
To keep on top of your child’s experience at school…
Be sure to talk openly and honestly with them, and listen to what they say about their time at school.
Look for the warning signs of non-educational issues that could be standing in their way.
Talk to your child’s teachers to get an understanding of the challenges they may be facing.
And, if necessary, consider professional help from a child psychologist.
There are many ways to help your child get the most out of their schooling, and knowing what to look for and what to expect is the best way to choose the right path.