Friday, October 13, 2006

Creating conditions to 'invite' growth

 The climate 'we' create as teachers determines our students' growth. Posted by Picasa

If teachers really thought hard about the conditions that students, as living being, need to develop their learning potential then we wouldn’t have so many disenchanted or, worse still, alienated students.

We spent too much time wishing some students were different and not enough on making learning 'inviting'.

According to Carol Anne Tomlinson, an American Educator, expert in differentiating learning, students care about learning when their teachers ‘invite them to learn’ by meeting their students’ needs for: ‘affirmation, contribution, purpose, power and challenge in the classroom'. In such learning environments students see themselves as: contributors, creators of their own knowledge, able to bring their talents to a problem, and to see that their learning 'makes a difference'. The teacher’s role is one of: creating the conditions to invite students to learn; ensuring there are engaging learning experiences to challenge learners; to provide whatever assistance students need; and to hold high expectations of all learners.

Too much current learning is a form of 'educational compliance'. Tomlinson believes there are five needs teachers need to address that work in tandem to make learning invitational.

Young people she believes need affirmation that they are significant individuals needing to know that they are accepted and safe; that people care about them; listen to them; acknowledge their intests and talents; and care about them doing well.

Students need to believe school is about assisting them in their search for meaning and purpose. They need to see themselves as knowledge creators who need to understand what they do, see learning as significant to them by reflecting their world – and to be involved in 'work' that absorbs them; providing a sense of pride when new learning is achieved or expressed.

Learning, from birth, is about developing learning power, growing competence and independence. Teachers need to ensure their students see that what they learn is useful, allows them to make choices, and to develop a growing sense of quality based on improving on their 'personal best'. The teacher’s role is to support their students on their learning journeys by constantly building each students capacity to learn and develop a sense of personal agency.

All students need to be challenged to overcome any fears by work that stretches them, and helps them accomplish things that they didn’t believe were possible. Such students need to appreciate the importance of effort and hard work so as to associate success with their own efforts.

All these needs have to be tailored , or personalized, to suit each individual learner but, when in place, ‘invite’ all students to learn.

Teachers in such 'invitational classrooms' have a clear focus on believing in their students. They try to see things through their student’s eyes and give then all the time and help they require. They really care about their students learning and open up every possibility they can imagine to assist. They are true partners in their students’ learning.

What teacher do is as important as what they say – their very enthusiasm ‘invites’ their students to catch the 'learning bug'.


Anonymous said...

'Inviting' is not what I would call some schools!

Anonymous said...

The things you mention ( or Tomlinson)are the basis of true education ( to draw out students' talents) and to achieve them do not need a centralised educational technocracy to devise curriculums.

The conditions mentioned are the basis of what creative teachers have always implemented but in the last few decades they have had to comply with imposing poorly planned and complicated curricula.

We would be better off with no curriculums.

Anonymous said...

These conditions, you mention, have to be believed sub- consciously as the 'right' things to do - then they act as cultural guides or myths. Developing such myths, or cultural markers, is the role of leadership.The trouble is, in Western society, we have too much 'faith' in superficial rationality - science has stripped all the 'magic' away. We believe in knowledge not wisdom.

Anonymous said...

The 'climate' in a classroom is made up from the assumptions that lie behind what teachers think and teach . Important as they are they are never questioned - you have to get beyond the everyday weather to notice the climate - and teachers are all too busy to do this.