Making Things better for a coaching center

There are two major things in running a coaching center, other than the real estate and infrastructure part.

  • Discipline:   Not to be too liberal and not to be too strict – somewhere in between is a good place to be in. Giving some relaxation is fine but students must not take undue advantage of the same.  The instructors must be between being too formal and getting too close.  Some suggestions are:
  • Make it very clear what is non-negotiable in terms of behavior and punctuality and what is slightly relax able and reinforce them periodically.
  • The peer groups or students have to be properly managed so that they do not disturb the other groups or students to the extent of instilling a lack of enthusiasm in learning in others.  All students must be able to participate actively without any fear or inhibition. 
  • Appreciate their participation openly and praise good performance in public. At the same time reprimand bad behavior then and there. Every student has a right to learn and must not be disrupted by a few elements in the class.  The expected student behavior must be reinforced and reminded regularly.
  • If operating under the peer group concept, the students have to be grouped in such a way that there is a good mix of students in each group of various merits and peer to peer learning must be facilitated more rather than within the peer group only. 
  • Attendance and timing – these are non-negotiable for any professional life that they would get into – having a strict 90% and above attendance record is essential and having the late comers stay out for that day of class would give them the necessary motivation to be on time the next day.    5 min lateness could be tolerated as the limit and if they are not in by that time, then they should not be allowed in.
  • Projects and homework turned in on-time (with one day grace perhaps). 
  • Checking the notes of students regularly during and after the lecture would help them to be focused.  A good record of each students and his/her record has to be maintained
  • Learning methodology – this is more about how the learning happens and what are the objectives and expectations of the course and the students.
  • Learning Goals: The center needs to have good success criteria or benchmarks to measure progress of the student and course activity and to regularly measure and auto-correct the same in a very transparent manner.
  • The projects and homework must be very probing in terms of concepts and practical applications of what was taught in class.  They must be able to research independently within a certain degree and assisted to think out-of-the-box to arrive at potential solutions.   One should never make homework being seen as a burden to their learning process.  Try not to target one unique solution for any problem but rather give probing questions so that the students can come out with a few options and discuss them clearly.
  • Video and audio aids online to supplement the learning must be used regularly and some unique materials in those aids should be tested constantly to ensure that the students are using those aids.
  • The fundamentals and concepts must be the heart of the focus and then problems solved around it.  The understanding of concepts should be tested which would be most beneficial for the students.  Getting to have a Q&A session after every cohesive chapter would be nice – this can have real-life practical applications of the concepts learnt.
  • Focus must be not on covering the entire material or syllabus but rather to encourage active learning from the students.  It is important to provide the students real life examples and personal experience so that the students can visualize practical applications of what they are the concepts. 
  • The learning goals must be clearly defined and communicated to the students, and must be separated from in-class course instructor learning and in-home projects and study-work. Give positive, constructive feedback on student performance and their behavior.
  • Lesson plan for each session or a bunch of sessions should be clearly defined and an in-class test should be conducted every fortnight.  This can be online that can be submitted from home. 
  • Have a fun day every quarter for students to present on a topic that has been taught in class but described in their own words with audio and visual aids.
  • Three Learning checks:  did they understand the fundamentals, are they solving School/CBSE /ICSE related questions and are they able to solve competitive exams (JEE, CET etc.) type of questions – all three must be covered across all their subjects.  Helping students identify their own errors are part of the teaching methodology would be most beneficial.
  • Combination of black board + handouts + visual and audio aids + tests must be there and used effectively.  Each of them must complement each other in terms of learning.
  • Encourage the students to take on many competitive tests as possible and give them pointers regularly as to what is coming up and how to deal with it.
  • Constant motivation by the parents and elders at home can better the student’s success.  This can be enabled by regular meeting with parents and go through the students and overall course progress.  The parents must also be more focused on the concepts being learnt and not get too hung up on the scoring well in the competitive exams as the sole objective. 

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