Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What Principles of Learning do you believe, value and use daily in your classroom?

The following are the principles of learning that I find to be most critical to learning.  I believe that for children to have a quality learning environment all of these factors need to be uniquely implemented into your personal values and daily teaching.  I teach kindergarten but even if you don't, I hope you find time to intertwine play and creative opportunities into your classroom.  The ability to think and act creatively is being linked to successful entrepreneurs and is a leading skill obtained sought out by many businesses.  It is our role as educators to help children find their passions and pursue their interests.  This is done when students have time to play, build trust and ultimately grow into themselves as life long learners.


1.      Safety/Trust
A student needs to trust the environment before they can learn.  Trust builds student’s self-esteem and gives them opportunity to be creative.  Having clear spoken rules and guidelines that the students are involved in making will help them build trust in the learning environment that they are helping create.  Teachers need take into account the variety of learning styles and make multiple opportunities for students to practice and demonstrate their skills.  The role of the teacher is to also ensure that each student ideas are being affirmed and recognized.  The teacher needs to model affirmation and teach it to others in the community so the groups focus is to affirm one another.  I also believe it is the role of the teacher to model mistakes and let students know they can make mistakes in the classroom.  It’s important for students to know they can take risks and that effort not perfection is what matters.  
2.      Respect
I feel that a student who is shown respect by the teacher is more apt to reciprocate.  The teacher’s role is to model respect and have high expectations for respect in return.  Having the students work together to create goals, share classroom ideas, and have input on what is being taught tells them that what they think and say is important in the class.
3.      Relationships
Students need to feel connected to the teacher.  “When we develop one-on-one relationship skills –becoming aware of and tending to the emotional needs of students –we enter the realm of learning as well.” (Rogers, 1999)  Children will develop a sense of belonging when their thoughts and ideas are supported by the teacher. 
4.      Community/Teamwork
Not only is it important to build the relationship with each individual student but it is also imperative to build student relationships with one another.  The teacher creates a motivating and cooperative learning environment when he/she engages the class in teamwork building exercises.  Having the children work together in small groups, partner activities and whole group non-competitive activities encourages students to build relationships with one another.  Emphasis should be on cooperative efforts constantly modeling how to work with others and using effective conflict resolution strategies.
5.      Play
Play provides students real opportunities to practice their skills.  They learn how to interact in social situations and how to problem solve effectively.  Through play they are encouraged to think creatively and allowed to be independent learners.  Play is also being linked to reducing anxiety and aggression.  Play further develops students’ sense of trust in the environment and allows them to strengthen their autonomy.
6.      Creativity
Children need an environment in which they can take risks, make mistakes and pursue their natural curiosity.  Creativity increases their problem solving skills, builds fluency, and allows students to be more flexible to new and different ideas and/or perspectives.  Offering choices and creating an accepting learning environment that celebrates differences is imperative to helping children feel safe and seek out creative opportunities.
7.      Structure/Routine
Students need routine to gain confidence and trust with their surroundings. 
Students are more independent and productive with a consistent schedule and consistent teacher expectations. 
8.      Connections
I think it is important that we are making connections with students’ personal life and relating things to their lives so they feel like what they are learning is relevant.  I think the students are more motivated to learn when they feel there is purposefulness and value to the ideas being taught.
9.      Accountability
The teachers and students need to be accountable for their learning. Teachers need to take records both formally and informally on student growth.  Students need to feel accountable for their learning.  This can be done is simple small ways where they keep track of learning on a K-W-L chart or chart their own personal growth.  Student motivation is enhanced when they take ownership of their own learning.



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