The realm of education is vitally important because of its role in helping children to develop into mature and responsible, thinking adults, as you can learn in this course. The ideas and opinions of what works in education are many, and much widespread disappointment in the state of education often paints a picture of a hopeless and dying system. This can be a great discouragement for parents, teachers, and administrators.
But education is too important to give up on, and that’s why many influential people are trying to bring about positive and lasting change. Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan is known for movies that tell complex stories with surprising twists. His most notable movies include The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and The Village. Shyamalan, although a successful filmmaker, turned his attention to education and reported some surprising findings and some bright spots of educational reform in his book I Got Schooled. He’s one person using his influence to spark needed change in education. But you don’t have to be a celebrity to bring about change.
The Importance of Environment in Learning
When it comes to education, and Shyamalan’s book bears this out, the real change-makers are the ones who spend each day with students: teachers. The teachers who will bring about the most change and most impact the lives of students are the one who realize the importance of creating an engaging and enriching environment for learning in students’ lives. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.” It’s a quote steeped in the idea of shaping an environment in a certain way if there is to be any hope of achieving results.
What is a Classroom Environment?
When most people think of environment, they think of the physical makeup of a space, whether it is indoors or outdoors. While the physical makeup of a space is a contributor to an engaging environment, what the teacher is creating is more akin to a classroom culture. It’s made up of expectations, values, and space that is used to enhance the expectations and values the teacher has established.
Why Learning is Important
Human beings interact with the world and the people we share it with, and they navigate through the complexities of living in a world that doesn’t always cooperate the way they feel that it should. It is a world where students can grow up and thrive doing something they feel they were designed for. Education is vital to preparing students to do this interacting and navigating with excellence. Excellence can be achieved by focusing on the following key environmental concepts.
A Relevant Environment
Students need to be motivated if learning is to have any lasting impact on their lives, and motivation comes from seeing that learning is relevant to a student’s life. There are three ways to spark a drive to learn in students: start with why, tap into curiosity, and build connections. This motivation course is a great place to start.
By starting with why, a teacher doesn’t assume that students will immediately see how the content they’re engaging with is relevant to their current and future lives. Starting with why is about painting a picture in the students’ minds of why the content they’re studying in class is important and how it will help them to navigate through life successfully. With each lesson plan, a teach take the lesson’s objective and find a way to clearly communicate the lesson’s relevance to their students’ lives.
Teachers should also take advantage of opportunities to tap into students’ natural curiosity. They should strive to make the content interesting if it isn’t immediately interesting upon initial exposure. An important part of lesson planning is creating a hunger to learn, and tapping into curiosity does this.
Most importantly, building connections is vital to effective teaching. Students are more apt to learn from someone they sense truly cares about them and is dedicated to investing in them. A quote by leadership communicator and pastor Andy Stanley captures this well, “We need to build relational bridges that bear the weight of the truth we have to give.” This is especially important inside the classroom. A teacher should strive to be one that students remember twenty years from now as one who cared about them and genuinely invested in their overall development and success.
A Student Centered Environment
The goal of teaching is to provide a safe and consistent environment for students to learn. As a teacher plans for instruction, he or she should seek to find ways to communicate the content in a way that is creative and that taps into the various ways that students learn, which are covered in this course. Not all students learn the same way, and it’s important to understand the different ways a classroom of students learns best. A teacher needs to diversify his or her teaching methods to reach students with different learning styles and comprehension levels.
A Creative Environment
Content comprehension involves more than memorizing information. It’s important to help students take what they’re learning and put it into practice. Teachers should create practical ways for students to apply what they are learning. Creativity is a vital value to human society, and it’s an important assessment tool by giving students the opportunity to develop their critical thinking and problem solving skills in developing their own ways of applying what they are learning. As students develop these skills, they have the opportunity to tap into their inherent strengths and begin to see where their skills might best be used someday in the working world.
A Character Shaping Environment
More than just learning important information and skills, students need to learn how to navigate life as responsible character-driven members of society. Students need to learn how to use their knowledge and skills to contribute their unique giftedness to the greater good of society. Students need to be able to make wise decisions that look out for the good of others and themselves. A teacher ‘s role is to not only invest in his or her students’ education, but their lives as well. A teacher should want their students to make an impact in the world they live in.
A Safe Environment
More important than all the others, teachers need to provide a learning environment where students feel safe. This means maintaining appropriate classroom management (learn more in this course), encouraging open communication, and following the procedures put in place by a school district to ensure that student safety is a top priority.
Teachers can make all the difference in the world by being intentional about creating an engaging and enriching learning environment for their students. Of course, there is content to be communicated, but doing so within a well-thought-out framework goes a long way in making sure that content has more of a chance of sticking with a student long after you’ve taught it. Teachers have one of the greatest responsibilities in the realm of education, and it’s important to utilize environment to a student’s advantage.