We all started in school having no knowledge at all about the learning that we obtained throughout our years of attending educational institutions. However, after finishing our studies, all of us are able to acquire knowledge at different levels. Such differences in level at which how much we are able to attain knowledge is dependent, according to researches and studies, on two major factors. These are the ability of an individual to grasp knowledge and the ability of a learning instructor to deliver knowledge to his students. In view of this, in the part of the teachers, delivering an effective process of teaching depends on many strategies and methods. One of which is the understanding of the stages of human development in a classroom.
According to the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University (Online, 2005),
In order to make effective classroom decisions, teachers must have a firm understanding of the learning and developmental processes. This understanding must include knowledge of learning theories and their classroom applications, developmental stages, and theories of development
The importance of this principle lies on the level of learning that students are able to attain after a learning course. Without the ability of teachers to recognize each stage in human development, there are tendencies that the learning being imparted to students may not match the level of readiness at which the students can grasp the knowledge. It is important that every stage of human development in classroom must be understood by teachers so that they can use it as a pattern in planning and developing the sequence of teaching that they will deliver to their students. Erik Erikson has the following theory, as extracted from the University of Wisconsin-
Madision Online, suggesting that
Understanding the stages of development through which students travel between 1st and 12th grade is critical to developing appropriate and effective guidance programs and to effectively reaching students through individual, pair, and small group counseling.
The rationale behind having teachers, instructors, and professors, in an educational environment is to serve as guidance to students' learning. Therefore, it is important that they are able to match the information they deliver to students against the stage of human development of their students to successfully achieve the objective effective teaching and learning. That is, teachers must be able to understand the learning abilities of their students before they impart knowledge to them. As Krashen (Arnold, 2005) similarly indicated,
Individual progress is dependent on the input containing aspects of the target language that 'the acquirer has not yet acquired, but is developmentally ready to acquire.
The importance of understanding the stages of human development in classroom learning can be generally shown in the example and fact that the lectures taught in a third-grade student must not be taught to a student who is just in the first-grade. On the other hand, on the basis of students within the same classroom of third-grade students for instance, understanding of the stages of human development is important during cases where there are different groups of students who learn at different paces. Example, teachers can device special methods of teaching to allow slow-pace learners catch up with the other students. In this way, with the understanding of the stages of human development, teachers can device teaching method solutions to ensure that all students are able to meet and the pass the human development stage where they should be.
Problems that Teachers Might Encounter from Lack of Understanding the Stages of Human Development in a Classroom Environment
A teacher's lack of understanding of the stages of human development in a classroom environment can cause serious problems in many aspects wherein both the teacher and the students can be affected. Following is a list of the possible problems that a teacher might encounter in such situation.
Difficulty in planning, designing, and preparing the lesson plan
Lack of understanding from the stages of human development in a classroom environment can cause teachers to have difficulty in preparing a plan of methods and strategies that can make the learning process effective to students. Because the teacher has no idea which level of learning his students' learning capability can accept, he may consequently find it hard where to begin his teaching process.
Students' inability to comprehend the lectures/lessons
This can be the consequence of the previous problem mentioned. From lack of understanding of the stages of human development, there is a possibility that the teaching methods used by a teacher in conducting his lessons may not match the learning readiness/capability of the students. Thus, the students will fail to grasp the information and knowledge being taught to them.
High variation in the learning pace and level of knowledge acquired between many students
If a teacher is unable to provide a teaching method that matches the learning readiness of the students, there is a possibility that it will cause confusion to the students. Consequently, their learning pace as well as the accuracy of knowledge they acquire will vary greatly.
Little knowledge grasped by the students
From the failure to provide appropriate teaching approach due to lack of understanding of human stages of development, there is a possibility that students may learn very little of what has been taught. Moreover, there is a possibility that even a fast-pace learner will not be able to entirely and accurately grasp his lessons.
Delay in the completion of the teaching process
This problem may be caused by a teacher's inability to facilitate an effective teaching process, or it can also be caused by the students' inability to comprehend their teacher's lectures due to the inappropriate teaching method used by the teacher. For instance, a teacher who is unable to design an effective teaching plan due to lack of knowledge of the stages of human development may possibly use a long method or a "trial and error" method of teaching which can consume more number of teaching sessions thus delaying the completion of a particular lesson. In the side of the students, on the other hand, the inability to understand their lessons will certainly consumer greater amount of learning time until they are able to absorb their lessons.
In general, lack of understanding of the stages of human development can cause "domino effect"
problems. As discussed, one problem lead to another wherein the root-cause of all is the teacher's inability to understand the stages of human development in a classroom environment.
Ideal Teacher's Behavior When Teaching Students at Early Childhood
Teaching is a profession that requires the ability to design and implement effective teaching strategies as well as dedication in meeting success that teaching aims; that is, to ensure that students are able to properly learn in their classroom environment, both in their academic skills and in their social/interpersonal skills. However, to achieve this goal, many researches and studies have explored large number of information and methods of researching concerning the techniques that can be most effective and most ideal in promoting thinking abilities and behaviors that can help an individual achieve success. In view of this, following is a discussion of ideal teacher behaviors when teaching students at early childhood.
Promoting Social/Interpersonal Skills, Emotional Well-Being, and Pleasant Classroom Environment
Students in their early childhood can be considered as within the group who are just starting to adapt themselves in a learning environment. In one classroom environment, it is common to see that there are children who demonstrate different behavior as compared to the others. One student may be active while another may be shy. In such situation, it is most especially the teacher who should demonstrate positive attitude towards every one because after the parents at home, he/she becomes the first model of the students.
Friendship is the foremost behavior that teachers should establish with their students. However,
in the case of early childhood students where a teacher and his/her students may have big gap in age, friendship can be instilled in a form of friendly parent-like attitude towards the student. Showing concern to a student is one way of developing a teacher-student relationship. Researches and studies show that students appreciate teachers from whom they feel a second parent or a friend. For students at their early childhood, interacting with other classmates no longer becomes a problem when they start to feel "at home" with their teachers. Thus, the development of their social and interpersonal skills is facilitated.
Aside from establishing a teacher-student relationship, awareness on the importance of friendship development and behavior characteristics of early childhood students can help teachers promote social skills development. As suggested by Doris Bergen (1993), in her article Facilitating Friendship Development in Inclusion Classrooms, on the importance of this awareness,
Even if teachers do not choose to plan specific strategies to encourage in-depth friendship development in their classrooms, just by being more aware of the importance of friendship development they can subtly change the inclusion classroom climate. That alone may make the world seem like a friendlier…