English language students staring back at you with blank faces when you mention previously ‘taught’ material doesn’t give you the best feeling for the rest of your well-planned lesson.
According to your class register, these students were definitely present in physical form last week. Apparently, their thoughts were elsewhere. Perhaps they were daydreaming about skydiving or distracted by the roadworks outside.
Whatever the reason, your beautifully prepared lesson did not capture their attention. Your hours of work floated over them like a wispy cloud and right now as you wonder what to do, floating away on a white fluffy cloud seems like a great idea.
What I Wasn’t Taught
Learning is a process of creating and strengthening neural networks. I wasn’t taught this in my teacher-training.
Our English language students have qualities and learning differences that can enhance or hold back their learning process. I wasn’t taught this either.
I became intrigued by students who weren’t progressing and I wanted to know why.
Through further studies, I discovered that one of the major obstacles to learning is inadequate information processing which leads to what is commonly described as having a ‘poor memory’.
Why is information not processed adequately in our classrooms? One reason is, teachers, faced with a demanding curriculum, unknowingly overload students with material and not enough time is spent on rehearsing, retrieving and practising the target material.
Pinpoint Learning Breakdowns
There are different theories explaining how information processing takes place and how our memory systems function. However, if you have a fundamental understanding of how learning takes place and the functions of the different stages of the memory process, you can pinpoint where your English language students may be having a ‘breakdowns’ in learning or where challenges might occur.
With this knowledge you can prepare and adjust and be ready with solutions.
Memory Friendly Techniques
When I started teaching, I had no idea what ‘memory friendly’ techniques and methods were, so to make things easier for busy teachers I’ve gathered some of my knowledge and created a free download, the Memory Matters Toolkit. Together with its supporting articles, this guidebook will help you check if your classroom management, lesson preparation, knowledge of your students and methodology include the essential elements necessary to stimulate your learners, keep them attentive, help them retain, remember and retrieve information in the most effective ways possible.
This 26-page toolkit has two parts. The first section, the Memory Matters Workbook is filled with exercises mainly supporting lesson planning and encouraging thought and reflection.
The second part, the Memory Matters Checklists is a collection of quick reference lists for you to check if you are taking action to turn your teaching methods into memory friendly practices.
You can find more about this essential toolkit and other guidebooks in the Free Resources page or download it here.
I hope you find this Memory Matters Toolkit informative and useful!
List of Supporting Articles
Read the following articles to benefit from the Memory Matters Toolkit
- Teachers: Here’s What You Should Know About ‘Poor Memory’
- Teachers: Use Unbelievably Easy Methods to Gain Interest and Grab Attention
- Is Information Overload Stopping Students From Learning?
- Attention! Do Your Teaching Methods Pass The Long-Term Memory Check List?
- Teachers: Are Your Teaching Methods Stimulating the Senses?
If you have concerns about students, consult with educators and other professionals in your education establishment or school to determine what steps to take and how problems can be addressed.