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Dressing the Classroom

A key element in retaining students is to "touch the career" - to constantly remind students that what they are doing has reason and value. The classroom itself can be used for this purpose. Ideally, every time the student steps across the threshold he should feel he is IN the career. In some fields (culinary, auto mechanics, etc.) this is done for you since classes are taught in kitchens, shops, etc. But how do you dress a bookkeeping class? One instructor made posters of tax forms, balance sheets, W9's, etc. and hung them around the walls. For a class on employment interviewing, another instructor moved in an executive desk, small rug and applicant's chair.

Fred, one of the items that I can still see today was in my bookkeeping class--long ago. The teacher had a scale (the kind with two chains and plates on each side) that she used for teaching the debits and the credits and keeping it all in balance. Do I remember anything else in that class---well let say I remember her, the scale and the guy sitting next to me.!!

Hi Vicky,
Good memory. There are two forms of memory, episodic and semantic. Semantic is the memory of facts, dates, etc. This memory is used most by students. Sadly, most of what is learned this way is quickly forgotten once the test is over.
On the other hand episodic memory is based upon experience, events and application. Your memories of the scale and the guy sitting next to you have been stored in your long term memory for ever. My point is as we plan our teaching strategies we need to try and use our students' life experiences and help them apply their new knowledge to their episodic memory bank. Then retention really occurs.

Dressing profesional when teaching is very important.

Dear Fred

I've found that laminating things works well, and i've also made several shadow boxes. these displays allow the student to not only see how their chosen career is today but also in the past. you can mount tools of the present and those from the past.

As an instructor at cooking school, I dress the classroom to simulate a restaurant kitchen where I have half the class be customers and order food for the other half of students to prepare. The dining students provide peer feedback and the crew cooking the food get the sense of trying to prepare the food in a timely fashion to their classmates.

Hi Brian,
This is a great way to involve the students in "real" world situations with low risk learning. Meaning they can try out their newly acquired skills and knowledge but if they are not successful they will have input from yourself and other students on how they can be.

Instuctors must set a good exaple for students to follow if students expext to get a job.

Hi Tom,
Instructors are role models and they need to always remember that as they work with students.

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