Teacher guides enable every single teacher to benefit from carefully designed lessons based on world class, up-to-the-minute pedagogical research. Often the focus is on the technology—or the teacher computer that is used to deliver the guides—but it’s actually the carefully designed guides themselves that are fundamental to delivering the best lesson possible, and improving outcomes.
So, how exactly do teacher Guides help improve learning outcomes?
1. They create more dynamic classrooms
The structure of a guide can facilitate a different learning environment. In many classrooms in Uganda, ‘rote instruction’ can be seen; which doesn’t work. Our teacher guides structure the content of a typical lesson differently – moving towards varied, evidence-based pedagogical strategies.
Take a maths lesson, for example. Instead of a teacher just talking about a problem from the front, our maths lessons (through our guides) are much more dynamic. Structured, but dynamic. It’s based on a three step process ‘I do, you do, we do’ as demonstrated by this typical lesson structure:
Guided demonstration of a problem broken down into manageable steps (“I do”)
Practice problem set with incrementally harder problems (“You do”)
Feedback from teachers to individual pupils (“We do”)
Guided demonstration of another problem (“I do”)
Practice problem set (“You do”)
Feedback (“We do”)
Our teacher-guide driven lessons are more feedback-driven, more pupil-centred, and more effective at helping children learn, according to independent evaluations.
2. They increase opportunity to practice a core set of skills
Well-meaning teachers everywhere can tend to over-explain, often cutting into precious practice time for pupils. Pupils learn by making mistakes, getting feedback on those mistakes, and trying again. Every educator knows how critical this cycle is.
Through carefully scaffolded problem-sets and well-sequenced instructions and demonstrations, teachers are able to pinpoint precisely where a pupil is struggling. All they need are frequent opportunities to respond. The teacher guides provide a backdrop for that.
3. They support teachers with lower subject-matter knowledge
A teacher guide is designed to raise the floor, without lowering the ceiling. Some teachers often acutely struggle with subject-matter knowledge or pedagogical content knowledge. One Ugandan government report found, for example, that 78 per cent of its Primary 1 and 2 teachers could not solve basic primary-level mathematics questions.
Guides can provide support for teachers who may struggle with the “basics” – either on the content itself or how to actually teach that content. Teaching emergent readers, for example, takes real craftsmanship, and it’s unrealistic to think that every teacher knows the latest or most effective ways of getting children to read. Especially, if they do not benefit from ongoing training or support.
Having access to a teaching guide enables teachers to clearly understand the content of the lesson they are delivering and the best way to present it to a child. For teachers who are confident with both the lesson content and the teaching techniques the teacher guide is precisely that a guide, enabling plenty of creativity and innovation.
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