Grade One is the foundation of literacy and numeracy for the learners in the elementary grades. This is one of the reasons why teachers in this foundation must be the best in teaching and learning.
Every time the school year starts, the first usual activity in Grade One is getting to know each other. The first week serves as an acquaintance for the teachers and the learners to earn their friends. This strategy could prevent future conflicts or bullying among the learners because they start to establish friendships among themselves. The first week of the school year will also be a chance for the teacher to identify the learners who fall under non-reader, instructional and independent in reading and writing letters, syllables or words. This will lead the teacher to apply his/her strategy or technique in addressing the need of every learner to provide them equal learning opportunities considering their individual learning abilities. One of the most effective and nicest techniques is assigning leaders to lead their classmates during remedial reading time and they are called “Little Teachers”. They serve as the teacher’s helper during remedial reading time schedule as a part of the class program. Remedial reading time as a part of the class program aims to develop the reading skills of the learners specially those who belong to non-readers or frustration readers. “Little Teachers” are chosen based on their positive attitude and good reading ability. They are the learners who belong to independent readers based on their first exposure in sounding the letters of the alphabet, reading syllables and simple or common words. The teacher must also explain to the parents the importance of this class setting and ask the parents’ consent if they allow their children to become “Little Teachers”. Most parents in the public schools are very much willing to allow their children in joining the activity.
Grade One learners are very active in nature. As they enter the first grade they still have the attitude of playfulness, feeling of sensitivity, and attention catcher. These attitudes may lead them to failure in learning if not properly addressed by the teacher. Learners who belong to non-readers are often slow in learning and playful or the other way around. They might be very playful that is why they are slow in learning. Instructional readers are so sensitive in learning. They often ask the teacher if they did right. They can easily learn but their self-confidence has not yet been built. Fast learners are independent readers. Most of the time, they are attention-catchers. They are easily bored in doing activities that they already know. Sometimes they are noisy which might destruct their classmates’ attention. Moreover, they love to take responsibilities like leading. The chosen “Little Teachers” are the independent readers.
Diversity of learners are normal in the public elementary grade level. The tendency of having heterogeneous learners is very high. A single teacher cannot afford to teach non-readers one by one in a very short period of time considering that he/she still have other learners to reinforce or enrich their reading abilities. At this time, the help of the assigned “Little Teachers” is very helpful. The teacher prepares a slide deck or a reading chart suited for the learners to be read by the whole class with the leadership of the “Little Teachers” . One “Little Teacher” is assigned to lead the reading activity while the others serve as peace makers as they wait for their turn to lead the reading also. This will be a chance for the teacher to call the non-readers one by one on her table to give them reading remediation. Both the “Little Teachers”, non-readers and learners who belong to instructional reader will be supervised by the teacher while she is conducting individual guided reading. This technique keeps the class well organized while targeting two outputs fairly at a time.
Assigning “Little Teachers” as leaders in the class not only helps the teacher in providing reading remediation. It could also enhance the confidence of independent readers to lead and build their attitude of helping their classmates in reading. They love to be called teachers as they enjoy the activity. This class setting provides a good opportunity for the teacher to demonstrate with the slow readers the proper way in sounding the alphabet, reading syllables and words as she supervises the improvement of the learners’ reading ability. There will also be a greater chance for the teacher to correct immediately the learner if he/she commits mistake.
“Every learner must be a reader in Grade One”. This goal of the Department of Education challenges every Grade One teacher to find out every helpful remedy which could benefit in attaining the goal. Assigning “Little Teachers” during remedial reading time with the careful supervision of the teacher could help a lot in keeping the class well organized while the teacher is conducting one-on-one reading remediation to non-readers or slow readers. It could also help those learners who belong to instructional readers in developing their reading abilities to become better. With the help of the parents, “Little Teachers” and teachers’ supervision in conducting this daily activity, it is more likely that every learner in Grade One will become good if not independent reader at the end of the school-year. This will give a proven account on an African proverb which says that “It takes a village to educate a child”.
By WOMA K. UNGOGAN