Meta-reflection for Standard 2: Learning Environment

The artifact below focuses on my understanding of how people learn, what the best environmental contexts for learning are, what motivates learners, what my role as a professional educator is and how these all combine into my personal pedagogy. This artifact satisfies standard 2: Learning environment: Creates and maintains school-wide and classroom environments that are safe, stable, and empowering.

Human Development and Principles of Learning

Another artifact that satisfies standard 2: Learning environment, is also from EDU 6655. This artifact discusses how to maximize motivation in order to maximize learning. Motivation is the key to effectively educating children. There are three main aspects to maximizing a child’s motivation to read: choice, collaboration, and competence (Gaskins, 1998).

Maximizing Motivation

Below is a direct link to all artifacts that I feel have implications regarding learning environment.

https://oswook.wordpress.com/category/standard-2-learning-environment/

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Community

“Of all the habits of mind modeled in schools, the habit of working to understand others, of striving to make sense of differences, of extending to others the assumption of good faith, of working towards the enlarged understanding of the group -in short, the pursuit of community- may be the most important” (Grossman, Wineburg, and Woolworth, 2001, p. 1000).

This week’s readings surrounding Professional Learning Communities (PLC) really hit home in regards to the staff at my school. Our staff meeting this week was suppose to be focused on professional development regarding a literacy component. Before the meeting began to take its planned course a few people had some announcements. One thing led to another and discussion broke out about frustrations and concerns teachers had about the relationships between the staff and between the staff and administration.  Do to the unique situation our building has, two school under one roof, tension has more opportunity to fester. Teachers were concerned about a divide that is beginning to occur between the staff especially because the students have very different needs (e.g. one being a Title 1 school, the other not.)

Though the discussion was left unsettled I am glad that it was allowed to occur. And, though the conversation wasn’t executed in the most professional or effective manner I am glad that someone  had the courage to speak out when they felt the community of learners amongst teachers was slipping in the wrong direction. Just like our students, adults can’t learn when they are anxious or unhappy. Taking risks is a requirement of effective PLCs. If we do not have faith and trust in each other, if we do not strive to make sense of our differences (whether it be between schools, teachers, or students) if we do not put the importance of the building, as a whole, being a community of learning – we will fail.

Ethics and Morals Course Reflection

Reflection

I am not the sole creator of my values; in-fact I play a small part in their development.  My values were, for the most part, chosen for me. My values were chosen by my parents in that they nurtured my character. They were chosen by my community as the community nurtured my parents. My values were chosen by my country as it provides the framework for my community’s culture. My values were chosen by my environment, my experiences, and how others as well as myself deal with those experiences.  My education and where I received that education, my husband, my friends -the only place where I have added a personal touch to my values and beliefs are in how I perceive things and how I have melded all these components of family, community, culture and environment into my continuously morphing personage. “We are not born with them [virtues], nor do we acquire them by any natural process that does not involve our own activity and perhaps more important, the activity of parents and other elders” (Aristotle).

How does this affect my teaching practices? If I believe that values are created within each person through the influences of others than I can make a difference in the growth of my students’ characters. This is true for me as well. If I believe that character continues to be shaped throughout one’s lifetime then I have the opportunity to learn alongside my students. This provides opportunities to model problem solving and to work through problems together, in the moment, or to reflect upon situations in order to wade through the pros and cons of various solutions. Everyone in a classroom should be an educator and a student when it comes to anything known or to be known in regards to morality or of any subject or discipline. “But to study with a teacher who not only speaks but listens, who not only gives answers but asks questions and welcomes our insights, who provides information and theories that do not close doors but open new ones, who encourages students to help each other learn…” (1993).

I must be explicit, cautious, and open when teaching or choosing a read aloud about responsibility, respect or compassion. I must also consider the larger community in which my students belong. “It reminds me that the questions I ask my students must take into account the larger community of truth in which they live their lives…” We do not want to create in our students “…a kind of schizophrenia in which knowing runs on one track, living on another, and never do the two tracks meet” (1993).

Yes, I have influence, but I must also take into account their ever-changing environment and self. I must create a gradual release of responsibility within my character teachings to provide a “…gradual and respectful acknowledgement of their increasing responsibility for their decisions…” (1999). My role is to guide students to become actively engaged democratic citizens. They need to be able to problem solve and be knowledgeable decision makers. It is my responsibility to show as many sides of a situation and provide my students with the tools to make educated decisions. “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts. The right defense against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments. By starving the sensibility of our pupils we only make them easier prey to the propagandist when he comes. For famished nature will be avenged and a hard heart is not infallible protection against a soft head” (1974).

References

Lewis, C.S. 1974. The abolition of man. NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Palmer, P. J. 1993. To know as we are known: Education as a spiritual journey. NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Scales, P.C., Leffert, N. 1999. Developmental assets: A synthesis of the scientific research on adolescent     development. MN: Search Institute.

Instructional Strategies: Environment, Interest, Inquiry, Assessment

Creating meaningful learning experiences begins with the learning environment. “The teacher-arranged environment [is] an active and pervasive influence on the lives of children and teachers throughout the school day. In the processes of teaching and learning, the physical environment…provides the setting for learning and at the same time acts as a participant in teaching and learning” (1999). Not only is the arrangement integral to the success of students’ behavior and academic independence but the culture and community that is developed through collaborative efforts between the teacher and the students is also an essential component. The instructional strategies addressed in this paper foster effective and nurturing learning environments that promote cooperation and inquiry. To read more Instructional Strategies

Maximizing Motivation

Motivation is the key to effectively educating children. There are three main aspects to maximizing a child’s motivation to read: choice, collaboration, and competence (Gaskins, 1998). “One reason that motivation and engagement may influence the development of reading comprehension is that motivated students usually want to understand text content fully and therefore, process information deeply” (Guthrie, et. al., 2004). Read more in the following document: Maximizing Motivation

Empowering Our Youth: Providing Opportunities For Discovery

The artifact below focuses on my understanding of how people learn, what the best environmental contexts for learning are, what motivates learners, what my role as a professional educator is and how these all combine into my personal pedagogy.

Human Development and Principles of Learning