Growth in the Learning Environment

Towards the end of creating a positive Learning Environment, I’ve identified progress towards goals from Practicum I:

Goal 1: Inclusion, and creating safe, open classrooms where everyone can experience their own success:

  • Encouraging and using “risk taking” language for students – reinforcing that it’s okay to make mistakes
  • Have taken PD courses around mental health and vulnerable learners with MORE

Goal 2: Understanding the relationship of the physical environment to the teaching and learning space, incorporating accessible design and creating a space that supports a diversity of learners,

  • Adopted a desk-free classroom with frequently rotating seating space
  • Incorporated student feedback and accommodation requests into designing the learning space for individual and collective optimization

Community-building through the Arts

Students collaborate to represent the idea of kindness using the "enabling constrain" of a sticky note mosaic.

Students collaborate to represent the idea of kindness using the “enabling constrain” of a sticky note mosaic.

Beginning with the theme of kindness, our Family Group explored the idea of kindness being contagious – recognizing that it was, we created an opportunity for our school community to contribute to the idea and “catch kindness” themselves. Our sticky note mosaic was designed as both an opportunity for our own expression, but also as a curiosity invitation to others to look and think deeply. We collaboratively designed a criteria for our individual contributions – and decided democratically that there was not one “right” way to contribute.

Students Inform Teacher Growth

Teacher Feedback Form including questions about meeting individual learning needs, and caring about each student.

My first teacher feedback form includes questions about meeting individual learning needs, and caring about each student.

Part of my development as a teacher means the intentional gathering of student feedback to inform my practice. While we may not always reach consensus, we can move towards it by understanding each other (as fellow learners), and providing constructive feedback for growth – this is a two-way relationship.

A myriad of data points and assessment help us inform our practice – and ensuring every student experience success falls to us. This artifact demonstrates a survey used to capture student feedback that informs my practice.

The first intentional and targeted feedback session for myself was on November 30, 2016, using the above form – I got great feedback from my students that I had not even considered, and I am thinking about each and every comment and how I can challenge my practice to meet the requests so that every student is engaged in their learning. From this data, I recognize several areas for growth with my class:

  • Helping students understand my role as a “Lead Learner” – and not always an expert,
  • Supporting a classroom culture where asking questions is encouraged by both myself and by students in my classroom – i.e. not a lecture, but a conversation,
  • Making sure I am confirming students understand a concept or idea before letting them continue their group or independent work.

Connecting Learning to Self and Philosophy

Based on assessment data from a prior lesson– and finding students were more successful than we expected, we decided rather than further working on what students already understood, to instead take the learner to a deeper and more personal level.

Each student in this grade 3 learning community, designed their metaphors for their learning – by using class generated examples that both were and were not meaningful to them. (e.g. “In my Learning, I am a Skydiver… because I take risks in my learning”).

I care deeply about philosophy in teaching, and when students can practice it – it is magical, by virtue of the revelations they arrive at in their metacognitive thinking.