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If you have already been a teacher’s aid, you have probably noticed that things do not always go as planned. The perfect lesson plan will have to be altered as you go. In other words: even the best teachers sometimes have to “play it by ear”. The more you get used to your students and discover what their particular needs are—the more improved your lessons will become. But do not be surprised if you run into a few snags right at first, this is normal.
Sometimes the students will be more advanced than the curriculum provided to you, and, by the same token, sometimes the students will not be advanced enough to move forward as quickly as you plan to. Then there is, of course, the worst case scenario: when some of your students are advanced and will get bored with the regular lessons, while others are less advanced and will need the class to move more slowly in order to keep up with the rest of the class.
· Advanced students:
When your class is more advanced than you anticipated, the best thing to do is to start off with a quick review of the material they are already familiar with. If they are a few chapters ahead—great! But find out where the learning should begin right away, i.e. what areas the students are not as knowledgeable in and start there. You may want to skip a few chapters or give the children a test or quiz that covers material from chapters one through three, for example, to see how well they know the material as a group. Then move on to chapter four and begin your lessons there. Do not let the class start out bored because they will likely get used to that and stay bored in your class. Adjust your lesson plans accordingly.
· Slower students
If the majority of your students seem to be behind in the subject at hand—back up a little and review the basics, the understanding of which will move them on to the lesson you intended at first to begin with. Realize that you may need to go back to their curriculum from the previous year and review. Once again, give them a quiz or test on the material, assess their understanding of the lessons they should have absorbed the year before, and decide how quickly to move from there. Many times you will find that the students remember very quickly with a simple review.
· Mixed groups
The most challenging class a teacher can have is a group of students that includes very intelligent children who are ahead of the rest of the class, students who are behind the rest of the class, and students who are right where they should be according to the curriculum provided. In this case there are a few ways you can handle it. It all depends on the flexibility of your curriculum and of your school. The best suggestion I have is to split the children up into groups (three, in this case). These groups will work at different levels. For example: in reading. Have the children who are more advanced read more complicated books—and maybe even read more books than the others. Let the students know that if they have read more than one book—they can choose which book to write their review on when the time comes—if they want to write about more than one book—offer extra credit. The reverse will be in order for the children who are behind in their reading. If you have time set aside for reading during class, this would be a great time to help the slower students one-on-one. If this does not work, you can keep the slower children after class for extra coaching or you can also suggest tutoring to the parents at parent-teacher conferences.
Your task may be more complicated in certain other subjects. When this is the case you must suggest or provide tutoring for the student—and help him or her find the way that they learn best—by using flashcards, outlines, lecture notes etc.
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