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The SKOLA Approach To Teaching

This article will talk about the Skola approach to teaching and behavioural management. You can scroll down to the bottom to view a video giving a short summary.

You can listen ago using the link above.

Teacher Teddy speaking to students. They are preparing for their Friday project.


The Balance of Education

We have students from around the world. Our students come from over 50 countries. Most of these countries teach the theory of English, focusing mostly on grammar and the rules of English. So students from these countries lack practice. They lack speaking and writing for communication skills. At Skola, we teach the missing part which is usually the practice. But we understand that balance is needed between theory and practice.


In short we consider the following questions for each student:

Where are they from?

The educational system and their native language influences a student's English ability.

For example, in South Korea, English is important for students. It is a key part of the Korea's College Scholastic Aptitude Test (CSAT). This is viewed as the most important test for Koreans. But this does not test for speaking or writing skills. So Korean schools often negligent communication skills such as speaking or writing (practical skills). This means we often have Korean students who have a great knowledge of English grammar but cannot communicate in English. South Korea is not the only country like this, many share this problem.


The Korean language does not use syllable stress or word stress word. So we can estimate that many of our Korean students would benefit from practicing syllable and word stress.

What are their strengths and opportunities to improve?

ZPD Infographic (Fletcher, 2018)

In short, we want to know where the student is at and help them bridge the gap between what they can do and what they can't do. This is called the Zone of Proximal Development (Vygotsky, 1934) and we bridge the gap using scaffolding (Wood, Bruner and Ross, 1976). Learn more about the theory here.


We test students through informal and formal assignments. The formal assignment is a test conducted by the Director of Studies. They assess the students strengths and weaknesses. The student will be given a level. They will be placed in a class with students of a similar ability, needs and age.

The teacher will carry out informal assignments when teaching, they will always be testing where students can improve and what they know. Such as through questions or writing tasks. The teacher will adjust their teaching to meet the needs of the students. The teacher through scaffolding will help the student bridge the gap between what they know and what they don't know.

The Theory

Mayora, 2014 (see full presentation here)


At SKOLA we believe the best way to learn English is through communicating real meaning. So, we use the communicative language teaching (CLT) approach. This is the theory that people learn best using language to communicate. Not just by learning grammar but by applying it. For example, trying to use it through speaking or writing in a meaningful way.

Language for Communication

The goal is to help students increase their communication competence. This means to use English effectively and appropriately in different social contexts.

Motivation

CLT is based on the idea that language is a tool for communication and that learners will be more motivated to learn a language if they can see the value in using it for communication. In a CLT classroom, learners are encouraged to use the language to express their own ideas and opinions, ask and answer questions, and engage in authentic communication with their peers and teachers.

Real World Language

CLT is focused on the use of real-life situations and authentic language materials, and it often involves the use of role-plays, simulations, and other interactive activities to provide learners with opportunities to use the language in meaningful ways. It also places a strong emphasis on the development of language skills such as listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Overall

The goal of CLT is to help learners become proficient in using the language for communication, rather than just learning about the language itself.

Lesson Planning

The idea lesson plan has the following stages: hook, pre-test, teach, check, transfer



This is based on the theory of Bloom's Revised Taxonomy (see to the left or learn more here) and the theory of memory.


1). Hook - catch their curiosity

First, the hook. This should catch the curiosity of students, so they want to learn more. It motivations them, activates their long-term memory and contextualises the lesson. Authentic text should be used. For example, a movie trailer, an interesting newspaper headline, a picture of you on holiday or music. The hook should be linked to the rest of the lesson.


2). Pre-test

This is where you estimate the students knowledge for the lesson topic. This information means you can adjust the lesson to your students needs.

The pre-test depends on the level of the students but you can elicit answers from students of all abilities. It is best practice to use think-pair-share and use open-questions when eliciting any question.




You should note down any emergent language on the white-board or smart-board, and explore this language if you see fit. Here are some examples of when and how to do so.




3). Teach

Teachers have different teaching styles, with unique strengths and weaknesses but here are some elements that every teacher at Skola should use:

  • Provide models. This sets the expectation and allows students to reflect on the gap between their work and the expert model. The expert could be you. For example, you could provide a written revise that you wrote. Alternatively, you can also model the writing process during the class and then provide the finished model.

  • Equal opportunity for questioning (random questioning). This is also called hands down. You 'randomly' select students for questions. So every student has been asked at least one question by the end of the lesson. You can write students names on matchsticks and pull them from a pot, then ask that person a question.

  • Visual, visual, visual. It's the reason we have massive screens in the classroom. Don't just say it - show it. For example, when explaining tenses - use a timeline.

  • Use Authentic text. Use real material, real images, the staff we see, hear and use everyday. For example, if you want to teach the students decoding listening skills then why not use one your favourite (child-friendly) songs and decode that?

  • Use Think, pair, share. It takes a person at least 30 seconds to think of a response. Also, social cultural theory suggests we learn best through working with others, such as our classmates. It also gives every student the opportunity to speak and its more fun.

4). Check (or test stage)

This is where you check the students understanding. Here are some assignment ideas:

  • Observation: This is a simple way to check students' understanding during class activities. By observing students during your presentation or when working on an activity, you can see how well they understand the material and where they may need additional support.

  • Self-Assessment: An effective way to make students take the ownership of their learning is by having them self assess the understanding of the material covered in class, that may come in form of short quizzes or reflection papers.

  • Quizzes and tests can include multiple-choice, true/false, and open-ended questions.

5). Transfer (apply)

In this stage, students should apply their knowledge to a real-life situation. This could be on the school trips or it may be through role-play, presentations or creating something. Don't be aware to experiment and be creative. Being adventurous is one of our values.


Don't be afraid of not finishing the task within the lesson time. Interrupting the task because of break, lunch or another natural reason could benefit the students. The Zeigarnik effect suggests students can recall information better from an interrupted task compared to a completed task. But remember to allow students to apply their knowledge later, in or outside of the classroom.


Behavioural Approach

Communication is key to everything we do at SKOLA, including our behaviour management.

At SKOLA, we have three simple rules: Ready, Kind, and Safe and a dialogic approach. These are fundamental to our educational approach to behavioural management.

Furthermore, the behavioural management policy is fundamental to safeguarding and care of students. It creates a safe environment for students, where their voices can be heard and where they feel safe.

Dialogic Approach

Learning through questioning and dialogue. Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory suggests people learn through social interaction. The child learns through reasoning and communication. This is also called inter-personal learning. This is the behavioural management approach of SKOLA. Changing behaviour through talking and questioning. The child reflects on their own behaviour through reasoning and discussion. This builds the relationship between teacher and student. It also encourages autonomy in students.

Five Principles of dialogic talk (adapted from Main, 2022):

Reason

There is an incident to address. The three rules are the structure of the talk.

Ready

Teacher and student are calm. They are ready to listen and talk.

Support

Students express their views and feelings.

Listen

Student listens to the views of others and are heard.

Reflect

Student reflects on the incident. Did they follow the rules? Did everyone else follow the rules? What would they do differently?

Our Rules

  • Ready

  • Kind

  • Safe

These rules cover every potential behavioural issues. Clear rules create consistently. The students feel accountable for their actions. The staff can recall the rules.

This link gives you video overview of the blueprint by our director Ben.

  • 3 Rules: Ready, Kind, Safe

  • First attention to best conduct

  • Routines

  • Sanctions

This article is by Connor, the Director of Studies at Skola. You can find more information about Connor here and his other accounts here. Any feedback or enquires on this article is welcomed, please message this email: connor@skola.co.uk or info@skola.co.uk.




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