When looking at the skills needed for creating lifelong learners, each educator needs to do a self-examination to see if they are providing the example of a lifelong learner. Are we, as educators, participating in these same characteristics? Are we demonstrating, modeling and helping to mold lifelong learners?
The most effective teachers are those who demonstrate the characteristics of lifelong learners, namely:
- Study Skills
But we cannot stop there. We need to help our students become this same type of learner. The most effective educator believes that their learners are capable of learning and communicate that belief to their students.
Carefully evaluate your teaching. Are you creating a constriction zone or a construction zone? Do you encourage students to explore and appreciate their unique individuality? Do you help them visuals themselves as intelligent and capable? Are you providing your students with the tools needed to succeed with the content you are teaching? What more can you do to help your students to build their self-confidence in their educational abilities?
One of the greatest methods to be able to teach our students to be lifelong learners is simply to truly know them and how the learn. Have your students write out (or tell you if they are too young to write effectively) about their favorite ways to learn. Even the youngest students will be able to tell you if they prefer to draw or read, touch or watch. Observe these students to see what you have noticed about their learning. Then, promote learning experiences which incorporate each of these styles.
Content should be used not to simply cover information but to provide students with the skills to learn. Content can be used to provide a self-awareness and to recognize learning preferences. Additionally, it helps students to assess their learning weaknesses and strengths.
As you, the educator, notice these characteristics, point them out to your students. Help them to learn about themselves. Demonstrate and explain method to develop strategies to aid their educational growth.
One of the items I found most helpful was to keep a record of what I was seeing. I didn’t do this for every student at a time, but I would choose a student or another to follow or simply to watch. I’d record my impressions, their activities, interactions with other students, etc. Of course, this probably isn’t a great revelation as those who know me know how much I enjoy journaling and record keeping. I have a form to use. It isn’t meant to be constrictive but simply as a guide or to help remind teachers what we’re looking for. As I gained more experience, I noticed I didn’t need to use this form, but I appreciate having it accessible periodically.
As soon as I was able to determine the learning style of the student, I wrote it down. Why? Simply because I would never be able to remember the learning styles of each of my students! I then found ways to embed the learning style into my curriculum. It’s a process and I think more than anything else, we need to applaud ourselves for the efforts we make in teaching. We won’t get everything right, but we make progress daily as we learn something new.