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Safe and supportive learning environment Essay

3.1 Explain how to establish and maintain a safe and supportive environment A safe and supportive environment, on a practical level, would involve the tutor taking responsibility for the physical environment i.e. health and safety issues, ensuring all risks have been assessed. Seating arrangements; i.e. either informal to promote more casual participation or formally to promote formal learning such as lectures etc. Ensuring the students have access to toilets, outside smoking areas, relaxation areas and regular breaks. Resources such as whiteboard, screen and hand-outs need to be easily accessible to all students. Learners that require learning support such as dictaphones, coloured hand-outs, one to one assistance etc. have their required needs accommodated. The aims and objectives for each session must be clearly presented at the beginning of the session so that each learner is fully prepared and motivated. The classroom or learning area is the basis of the learning environment and as such this is where the safe and supportive atmosphere begins.

Classroom furniture can be rearranged to ensure the atmosphere becomes established, the teacher is responsible to ensure the environment is safe, in accordance with the College’s Health and Safety Policy, minimising risks. Rapport is also a significant element in establishing the safe and supportive learning environment and developing a culture in the class of good behaviour and respect. By clearly informing the learners of the lesson objective at the beginning of the session, the learners will feel safe and confident in the learning process, by answering open questions during the session the learners will continue to feel confident in the learning process and by concluding the learning outcomes at the end of the session, the learners will have experienced a safe and supportive learning experience. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, (Gravells, A. 2012 Preparing to teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector. 2nd ed. London: Learning Matters) expressed in educational terms, clearly indicates importance of the learner feeling safe and supported in the learning environment, the levels of the hierarchy are appropriate both as each lesson and/or day begins and also more universally throughout the course.

The first level of the hierarchy – Physiological – requires the learner to feel comfortable and that all physical needs are satisfied, such as hunger, thirst, warmth etc. As the course continues and the learner becomes more confident in their environment these physiological issues become more automatic and as long the environment doesn’t change the learner will feel comfortable. The second level addresses safety and security – specifically any worries the learner may be feeling. Again as the course continues the learner will become more confident in their environment and the expectations of their tutor and peers, as the course continues and friendship groups develop each learner will have less reason to have worries or concerns. It is the responsibility of the tutor to identify if the learner is worried – maybe identify that the learner is have some difficulty in forming friendships or expressing their point of view. In this case, maybe a “Buddy” approach would benefit the learner, by pairing up with another student the learner may feel more comfortable.

Also, regular ice-breaker exercises and some informal discussion sessions may benefit the learner, thus building rapport within the group and an atmosphere of respect. Informal discussions and learners relating to events in their own everyday lives also encourages confidence. The third hierarchy – Recognition – definitely develops as the course progresses. The learner needs to feel they belong, some learners may take longer to achieve this feeling than others. The tutor needs to be aware and responsible for ensuring the learner is given every opportunity to feel that they belong and that the tutor and their peers have respect for them. Group exercises and acticities to address all learning styles, encouraging each student to participate with something they can contribute to would be beneficial.

For example, if a particular learner doesn’t feel comfortable participating in the class environment, perhaps they are very strong at a more practical task such as grooming a horse. Encouraging the student to demonstrate a grooming task would give them the opportunity to earn the respect of their peers and aid their own recognition of their belonging to the group. The second and first hierarchy – Self Esteem and Self Actualisation are positive aims and objectives for each learner – as the course progresses each learner will hopefully be successful in learning the course curriculum objectives and feeling that their knowledge gained is useful, self-actualisation is developed as the course progresses towards the end – as their student portfolios grow so will the learner’s feeling of self-actualisation.

Some learners will achieve this much faster than others so it is the responsibility of the tutor to ensure those learners that are taking longer can make more progress initially in areas in which they are stronger i.e. practical assessments. Self actualisation and self esteem can be demonstrated by encouraging the learner to discuss how they have used knowledge and skills they have gained in their own everyday lives outside of the learning environment. For example an animal care student would gain the skills required to apply worming medication to their small animals at home.

Gravells, A. 2012 Preparing to teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector. 2nd ed. London: Learning Matters www.studymode.com [last accessed 19.09.14]

3.2 Explain how to promote appropriate behaviour and respect for others. As a tutor, there is a responsibility to act as a role model to learners. “The teacher can themselves provide a model of appropriate behaviour”. (Wallace, 2007: 79) Adhering to guidelines within IFL’s Code of Professional Practice (2008) will ensure the tutor can “lead by example” on matters such as the following:

•Time keeping

•Setting and abiding by ground rules
•Establishing routines
•Being honest, reliable and trustworthy
•Preparing adequately for learning sessions
•Adhering to policies and procedures
•Working safely and with regard to others at all times
•Liaising and working in a professional manner
•Dressing appropriately
•Returning marked work within agreed timescales
•Respecting and valuing others’ opinions
•Involve everyone, inclusive learning and using a variety of activities to suit all learning styles •Being positive and supportive at all times

The tutor also has a responsibility to challenge and manage inappropriate behaviour. This can be done in a variety of ways, depending on the inappropriate behaviour. For example, by agreeing a set of ground rules at the beginning of the course and setting down specific codes of conduct; these ground rules are then available to be revisited if anyone acts inappropriately. Such as continued use of mobile phones for texting during lectures; one of the ground rules may be “Keep mobile phones switched off and in bags during lesson times”. By revisiting this ground rule, the situation should hopefully be addressed. Inappropriate behaviour from one learner towards another must be challenged, an open discussion on considering each other’s feelings and asking open questions such as “how do you think it would feel to be treated like that ?” will develop an awareness of consideration and respect.

A quote by Wallace,2007:79 “The teacher can themselves provide a model of appropriate behaviour”, confirms that by demonstrating high standards of consideration and respect teachers can become good role models. Other methods of challenging and managing inappropriate behaviour may be: •Having a quiet word with the relevant learner or learners in private •Keeping Course Leader and other tutor’s informed of the inappropriate behaviour •Recording caution on student’s record

•Adhering to College’s disciplinary policy and procedures •Refering learner to Course Leader or Student Services Department In dealing with disputes amongst learners, it is imperative that the tutor remains impartial and professional at all times. Disputes amongst learners that remain unsolved may require the same course of action and referral as above. IFL (2008) Code of Professional Practice. London; Institute for Learning. Wallace, S (2007) Managing Behaviour in the Lifelong Learning Sector. Exeter: Learning Matters.


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