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Effective Teaching and Learning Environments Essay

This assignment will discuss effective teaching and learning environments. According to Brophy (2004) there are twelve principles contributing to effective teaching; a supportive classroom environment, the opportunity to learn, curricular alignment, establishing learning orientations, coherent content, thoughtful discourse, practice and application activities, scaffolding students, strategy teaching, co-operative learning, goal orientated assessment and achievement expectations. All these principles contribute to the active involvement of the student and attaining effective learning environments. For this assignment we will focus on three of the main principles and discuss its effectiveness in my own learning and influences it will have on my own teaching. Supportive learning environment

Teachers modelling personal attributes such as approachability, friendliness, emotional maturity and sincerity towards individuals as well as learners create an environment of cohesiveness and support. Educational content can be developed to connect and build on students’ prior knowledge and experiences whilst also encouraging understanding of learning outcomes in a positive collaborative environment. As a tertiary student I find these qualities very encouraging in allowing me to pursue my education without fearing to contribute and asking questions without being chastised or frown upon. An example of a non-supportive environment was observed at a high school where a teacher humiliated a student for failing a math test.

The teacher made the student stand in front of the class and then called him ‘stupid’ leaving the student distraught and traumatised. Needless to say this was an extremely negative experience and could have detrimental effects on the student or all the students’ motivation for learning. A supportive environment is one where the students can be interactive with the teacher, other peers and lesson content. A recent excursion to the Attadale foreshore with the aides of workbooks and precise teacher instructions allowed the students to engage and explore the lesson by utilising their senses and the natural environment. This effective teaching method succeeded in building and supporting group collaboration and expanding their knowledge. Opportunity to learn

The opportunity to learn greatly depends on the how much time is spent on participating in lessons and learning activities. Being an effective teacher is to be prepared and organised, using allocated class time efficiently for accomplishing activities and achieving instructional goals. Teachers need to articulate clear expectations and a sense of purpose that can be processed easily by the students in regards to general behaviour and engagement especially during lessons. Teachers can give clear and consistent expectations through modelling or direct instructions.

Effective teachers instruct strategies and procedures for students to manage their own learning, elaborating content allowing students to respond and form their own interpretations. An example observed in a classroom setting lead to unenthusiastic results. A student needed clarification of an assessment, the teacher had instructed the whole class although as an observer I noticed that not many students understood what was required. The teacher approached the one student and admonishes him with a “why don’t you know anything!” statement. The students in the class have since stopped asking clarifying questions and continue to struggle in their lessons.

The learning opportunities for students in this setting were limited. A more positive approach to teaching is to allow all students at different abilities a chance e.g. a grade 5 class spelling test had the teacher separating students into small literacy groups according to their abilities. Attention was focused on the struggling students whilst the more capable students had clear instructional goals to work towards. Curricular alignment

The curriculum components are used as assistance in creating constant instructions and learner outcomes from K-12. The curriculum has been designed to assist students in their attainment of knowledge, understanding, appreciation and life applications in preparation for students to participate in adult roles within society. Teachers need to instil appreciation for learning into students, the why and because of learning and knowing that there are good reasons for learning that leads to life applications where what they have learned can be used when needed in other contexts.

When I was in high school (Brunei Darussalam) I was taught using textbooks and to memorize random information available in the texts. Assessments were based on the amount of information memorized. This type of learning was not productive to me or the local society as it did not allow for the development for curiosity beyond textbooks. Students were passive and were not permitted to query anything other than content of lesson. Information was not related to daily matters in life. The difference in the education system here is that teachers motivate and encourage analytical thinking with questions and guidance. I was found lacking in understanding curricular concepts involving thinking ‘beyond’ the textbook although the push to ‘think outside the box’ was something that I relearned and appreciated over time.

Finally, although these three main ideas; a supportive classroom climate, opportunity to learn and circular alignment have been highlighted individually, each idea should be applied in conjunction with the other nine principles mentioned by Brophy for attaining effective teaching and learning environments. All twelve principles are meant to be aligned as a measure of assisting students in accomplishing intended curricular outcomes.

These main ideas influence my teaching by motivating the creation of an understanding and cohesive classroom by modelling and being supportive to the personal, social and academic well being of all students; by being prepared and ensure that lesson plans are stimulating, challenging and that the diverse learning abilities of the students have been taken into account to further maximise their opportunities to learn; and with curriculum guidance be able to achieve specific outcomes geared towards students being able to function socially and adapt to the adult world.

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