THE TEACHING PROCEDURES
NOTE: Ideally, the Studies in Meaning program is to be taught by qualified teachers, tutors, or parents, privately, in small groups, or in the classroom. However, a self-disciplined student can benefit from the critical-thinking part of the program with an accompanying answer key. For the creative thinking part of the program, he or she would need professional assistance.
GUIDELINES, PROCEDURES, AND CONSIDERATIONS
The following teaching procedures for tutoring the Studies in Meaning program have been summarized from years of personal experience, and experience with hundreds of tutors and families. They are not absolutes, but only professional suggestions that give structure and order for the tutoring of the program in small groups. My wife and I found it necessary to provide tutors with these procedures and guidelines for the most efficient teaching of the program.
Most of these suggestions apply not only to small group in-home tutoring, but to tutoring the program anywhere.
FIRST LESSON PROCEDURES
If two or more pupils are working in the same level studybook, then it is suggested that you have one pupil begin unit one, and the other student begin unit two--(there is one exception for the Level Three level; for this level, have the other pupil begin unit three instead of unit two, because unit two grammar-usage is on the parts of the sentence, and those exercises are too complicated with which to start a pupil.) The reason for this procedure is that if two, or three, pupils are working on the same level, they will tend to overhear your comments to the other pupil on the same material he is working on.
If pupils have the same level studybook, then show them as a group the instructions for the first unit --grammar-usage, vocabulary in context, and reading topics.
If they have different level studybooks, then while you are going over the grammar-usage exercises instructions with one pupil, have the other pupil(s) read the grammar-usage exercises instructions and try to begin working on their own.
If they don't understand the instructions, then they will have to wait until you get to them. Then, when you are finished with that pupil, move to the next pupil, and go over the grammar-usage instructions with him.
Once they are underway with their grammar-usage exercises, then move from one pupil to the next to complete explaining the instructions for the other studies: vocabulary in context and the reading topics.
After the first lesson, it is best that you show the parents their children's work.
GENERAL TUTORING PROCEDURES (for a two-hour tutoring session)
1. For the first hour, pupils work on their studybook, or, PRIMARY STUDIES.
2. Once the pupils have started their primary studies, you move to each student to go over his or her homework, if they've been assigned it. This should take no more than 10 minutes.
3. At the end of the first hour, pupils take a five-to-ten minute break.
4. The second hour begins with the SECONDARY STUDIES, which include exercises in (1) math-logic reasoning, and (2) classical literature. These studies should take no more than 30 minutes.
5. After pupils finish their secondary studies, they resume their primary studies.
SPECIFIC TUTORING PROCEDURES
1. Pupils work in their studybooks independently of the tutor, and at their own pace.
2. The tutor moves from one pupil to the next, as each pupil finishes a page or needs help. If a pupil has completed a page, and the tutor is working with another pupil, she does not wait, but continues on to the next page, and so on, until the tutor comes to her .
3. If a pupil has difficulty doing a particular exercise, he does not wait for his tutor, but continues on to the next exercises until the tutor comes to him.
4. When a pupil makes a mistake, have her try to correct it herself before you explain the correct answer. If she gets all the exercises on a page correct, then spot check to see if she understood her answers - for example, "You're right, but why does this statement disagree with that in the passage?"
5. Be sure pupils are listening to you. To assure that they are, you might intermittently ask them if they understand what you mean; and if they say that they do, check to make sure that they do. There have to be a lot of "whys" in these studies to make sure the pupils understand what they read--which is the purpose of these studies.
6. Be sure when you work with one pupil, you are not so focused that you forget the other pupils. Be alert that they are not daydreaming nor misbehaving.
7. An important point to keep in mind about both the pupil and the studies is that most pupils prefer that the tutor be brief in her explanations; not too much "teaching," so to speak. Regarding the studybooks, you can consider them be the main teacher, in effect; and that you, as a tutor, are more a facilitator, who expands, clarifies, refines, the material, who draws from them their own thoughts. Use simple examples and explanations, at their level of understanding, to get across complex ideas.
8. Be sure you balance your time with each pupil, however hard it may be with a particular difficult pupil. Their parents are paying a substantial tuition fee, and they expect their child to receive a substantial education from both the program and-tutor.
9. Be sure pupils relate the creative thinking exercises to the critical thinking exercises on the opposite page.
10. Be sure you have read the material before you teach each lesson--especially the topic studies exercises for they are replete with fine distinctions and relationships to be made. Many pupils are very sharp when it comes to logical distinctions, and if you are not prepared beforehand, you might find yourself in an awkward position of simply not knowing the answer. Yes, you have an answer key, but oftentimes pupils will contest the given answer; and besides, they expect the tutor not to have to rely primarily on the answer key - they should know thoroughly what they are tutoring.
11. At the place where pupils stop working in their studybook at the end of each tutoring lesson is where they begin at their next lesson.
SUGGESTED STUDYBOOK MARKINGS
1. A colored pen should be used for markings so that they stand out for pupils and parents.
2. Each work page should be marked so that parents can see that you have gone over the material
3. It is suggested that you mark only the critical thinking exercises that are incorrect, otherwise the page will be too full of markings, and so could confuse the parents.
4. It is suggested that you circle an error rather than "x" it; it is a less harsh marking.
SOME SUGGESTED MARKINGS FOR CRITICAL-CREATIVE THINKING EXERCISES
1. N/S (not sure} - A marking for an exercise that is correct, but the pupil didn't understand, or quite understand it (I call this "marginal understanding). This way when the parents view their child's material, they won't be misled into thinking that the child understood the exercise.
2. und (understands} - A marking for an exercise that is wrong, and after explanation, you are sure your pupil understands the correct answer.
3. d-und (does not understand) - A marking for an exercise that is wrong, but the pupil cannot understand the correct answer. NOTE: Do not belabor the issue, or feel that the pupil will suffer a great loss if he doesn't "get it" then and there. There are many such exercises, and sooner or later, she will begin to understand.
4. On marking the pupils' creative exercises, you might want to use this simple marking format: for each exercise, use one "C" for average; two "Cs for good; three Cs for excellent. You might also want to add now and then such words as "great," "wonderful," "insightful," and the like, to give a personal, specific touch to your impressions.
5. For those pupils who begin their answers with "because," or repeat the question before they formulate their answer, or write sentences when only words or phrases are required, teach them to answer the exercises in the most concise, precise way.
6. Circle pupils' mechanical and stylistic writing errors, and have them rewrite your corrections.
7. Many pupils fall very short of ideas on the creative exercises. They are not used to thinking creatively, and so only one or two ideas come through-and usually rather obvious ideas. This is the purpose of the creative exercises: to draw from their minds, what they mostly know, but haven't used, or haven't thought about. The purpose of these exercises is to train them to interpret situations, to make associations, to imagine situations, to describe situations, to project situations, to determine a meaning to situations. Accordingly, the task of tutors is to use these exercises as a means to help expand their pupils' minds by drawing from them more than one or two ideas on a topic. If they give one or two ideas, stretch their minds to one or two ideas. Give them one or two of your own ideas, give clues to help draw out their own thoughts and feelings, attitudes and beliefs.
SOME BEHAVIORAL CONSIDERATIONS
I. Pupils are not to leave the study table without your permission.
2. Pupils are not to distract, in any way, the other pupils
3. Do not tolerate misbehavior or encourage levity.
4. Try separating a disruptive pupil. If that, nor any other approach, doesn't work, then inform his parent.
5. If possible, do not have pupils sitting too close to each other for they tend to be playful.
6. With few exceptions, discourage pupils from interrupting you with questions while you are working with another pupil.
7. Discourage pupils from answering questions directed by you to another pupil.
8. Pupils are not to "sprawl" over the study table or desk, or to kneel on their chair while they are working. These are subtly distracting to the study atmosphere.
9. Try not to adapt a too familiar relationship with your pupils to the extent that they treat you in a too familiar attitude.
SOME PSYCHOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS
1. Some pupils will just not take to the studies - they do not care to think through what they read; they will tend to resist studying, in one way or another--by disrupting the class, or by rudeness, for example; and most likely they will complain to their parents that the work is boring. Be prepared to speak to their parents about this situation. You do not want the effectiveness of your tutoring and the other pupil's learning to be undermined.
2. It's important to keep in mind that your personality or character might not accord with that of one or more of your pupils. So, because of the professional circumstances you are in, you will have to modify somewhat your personality to that of your pupil. For example, you might be an outgoing, dynamic person, whereas your pupil might by withdrawn and reserved; or vice versa.
3. Some children have some frictional traits that make it difficult to teach them. Some are predominantly hyperactive, or slow, or resistant, or argumentative, or overly dependent or independent; and at times they can be rude, spiteful, sullen, resistant, tired, upset; and, in one way or another, unpleasant. How would you handle these types?
Here are some well-founded suggestions:
First, consider these human variations as part of "the territory, " so to speak" - if you happen to have a group that is ideally academic-minded, consider that as the exception, and yourself, fortunate.
Second, meet the situation straight on and straightway.
Third, observe if the pupil's negative behavior is just temporary--perhaps he's having a "bad day". If, however, it is consistent, then you have to deal with it effectively, by either adapting to his behavior or by having him adapt to your reaction to his behavior; or by simply by having him removed from the group--you do not want to be uncomfortable because of his presence, or having to dread going to your lesson because of him.
Fourth, if you feel that you can deal with the pupil through a "loving understand- ing" approach, then try that first; but if that doesn't work, you will have no other recourse but to adopt a tempered, aggressive approach in the sense that he is going to have to follow the rules, and nothing less. You have to take a firm stand that will not tolerate infractions of any kind from his behavior or attitude; that he is here to study, like it or not; and that is what his parents are paying for. Be matter-of-fact with him. Be cursorily polite and professional: if he makes an error, you correct it for him, just as you would for the other pupils; if he does good work, you praise him - but with the one exception, that you do so without personal investment. You act on his terms. If he is polite, you are polite; if he is distant, you are distant; if he is unpleasant in any way, you cursorily, objectively, professionally, go through the academic motions with him, then "move out," so to speak. In effect, it comes down to this: you have to intimidate him before he intimidates you-but with a firm, professional, objective intimidation. You cannot fall into his game, otherwise you lose your composure, and hence, your effectiveness. However you approach this problematic pupil, keep always in mind that you be not reproached by his parents. Though this situation is not a very pleasant one, it at least is a challenging one. If this approach, or all else fails, then it is strongly advisable that he be dismissed from the group. One last point, Be sure to let his parents know of the situation, and in what way you are going to approach it.
5. Be patient, patient, patient! Patience is one of the two hallmarks of a good, if not, exceptional, tutor - the other being, his-her ability to convey, "get across," difficult ideas to the pupil. They rarely get these two features in the classroom.
6. Always be pleasant, but not too familiar , or personal.
7. Try to desist from the natural inclination to display incredibility to a pupil, by words or by facial expressions, that he is not able to understand what is so obvious to you. Pupils tend to withdraw, when they are made to feel inadequate; and you might just lose their confidence and whatever ease they may have felt with you.
8. Be prepared to hear complaints from some pupils that there is so much writing. Explain to them the crucial importance of writing, that it teaches them to express themselves effectively; and of how important that is in one's success in school and in life in general.
The following points are requests, or comments, various parents have made over the past sixteen years regarding the tutoring of their children. They expect tutors:
1. to be on time for each lesson
2. to give their child his-her allotted one-to-one time
3. to not touch pupils
4. to not read or write one's while pupils are studying
5. to not favor one pupil over another
6. to not make harsh comments to the pupils
7. to not ask pupils personal questions
8. to not eat, drink, or chew gum, during tutoring session.
9. to wear appropriate attire
10. remove shoes (for Asian families, especially)
11. to have fresh breath
12. to periodically review with them their child's work
Homework tutoring is an adjunct of regular tutoring procedures with the exception that the tutors meet their pupils only to go over the assigned homework that the pupil completed on his-her own.
This homework tutoring session should take no more than 15 minutes for each pupil for each one-hour homework assignment.
If the pupil did not complete the given homework assignment, then the fifteen minute session is to be spent in completing that assignment.
GUIDELINES, PROCEDURES, AND CONSIDERATIONS
Telephone tutoring is an adjunct of homework tutoring procedures with the exception that the tutors teach their pupils on the telephone; again, only to go over the assigned homework that the pupil completed on his-her own.
This homework tutoring session should take no more than 30 minutes for each pupil for each one-hour homework assignment.
If the pupil did not complete the given homework assignment, then the 30-minute session is to be spent in completing that assignment.
It is advisable to have the pupil telephone the tutor for the assigned telephone tutoring session set up for a regular definite day and time.
One of the benefits of this type of learning is that the pupil has to stay focused, because she is continuously being queried by the instructor regarding his assignment.
Of course, any extended writing assignments would have to be either e-mailed or mailed to the instructor for proper assessment of them. Then with a copy of the extended writing - an essay or story, for example--in the hands of both pupil and instructor, the instructor can go over it step by step over the telephone.
For this teaching procedure to work with a pupil, he or she has to have feel at ease with the instructor, has to speak clearly and loudly enough, and has to have completed the assignment. The instructor has to be patient when the pupil's mind wanders, or if she cannot understand a particular concept.
The instructor has to continuously not only be asking if the pupil understands an answer, but also be asking her to prove that she understands. This can be exasperating to a pupil, but the process is necessary, if she is to gain the benefit of this type of distance learning.
This method of tutoring is currently not an option for the teaching of Studies in Meaning; but will be in the near future.
Teaching the Studies in Meaning program by correspondence is a simple matter of mailing pupils the appropriate studybook(s) with given assignments to be mailed to the instructor for correction and comments. The instructor then mails the corrected assignments to the pupil.
This form of teaching is mostly for pupils who do not have access to telephone or tutors.
GUIDELINES, PROCEDURES, AND CONSIDERATIONS
The first point to consider in teaching the Studies in Meaning in a classroom setting of more that 6 students is that it is primarily an individualized-group learning process in that students work at their own level and at their own pace.
The next point to consider is that the Studies in Meaning program has both critical and creative integrated exercises.
With these two points in mind, let us say that we have a class of 18 students at three different
Studies in Meaning levels: levels 1,2, and 3, and that there is one teacher for these 18 students. For convenience sake, let us say further, that 6 students begin at the first level, six students at the second level, and 6 students at the third level.
The following procedures for class teaching of these 18 students are as such:
The students are seated together according to their particular study level (1, 2, or 3).
After a set period of time, the teacher interrupts one group, and goes over the critical thinking exercises of a given unit (consisting of grammar-usage, vocabulary, and reading topics exercises) by giving and explaining the answers - or asking the students themselves for explanations. Next the teacher engages the students' participation by asking them their answers for the creative thinking exercises. This teacher-students participation leads naturally into discussion through the teacher's guidance, and input - being always sensitive to the feelings of the students and propriety of her own input.
The teacher then moves to the next group, following the same pattern. Even though a student may be at unit 4, and the teacher's answer interaction with the students may be at unit 2; still, the student who is ahead, still has to have his exercises of unit 2 gone over.
This teaching-learning procedure is, of course an ideal, mainly because there is the integrated balance between individualized learning, group participation, and teacher interchange. Yet, the problems that might arise, might be (1) the students who are behind the teacher's answer session with a group will hear the answers before they do the exercises; or (2) the other two groups might distract the group whose answers are being given by the teacher; or (3) the teacher might take too long discussing an creative thinking exercise--and other unforeseen problems that might arise. Nonetheless, this class teaching procedure is most likely the best in order to preserve the integrity of individualized learning, blended with group participation, and teacher interchange.