Tuesday, Jun. 27, 2017

The Learning Environment

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March 9, 2017

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Greetings from The Progressive Teacher.

Rita Wilson

Rita Wilson

Once again, we have come to the end of another school year and enthusiastically look forward to the new academic year with new students we shall teach, maybe new courses and subjects assigned to us and new books we shall delve into with our students. While all this seems very exciting, have we paused for a moment to give thought to the new learning environment we will offer our children in the school? All of us have spent a great deal of time in the classroom, beginning in kindergarten and extending for years beyond as students and then as teachers. Have you ever noticed what the teacher did to make learning more inviting? Was it colourful posters, clear and consistent rules, and fun and interesting teaching methods? If so, you were lucky to have a teacher who paid close attention to the learning environment, or the physical, psychological and instructional atmosphere of the classroom.

The learning environment in the classroom is vital to student success and influences the student in a number of ways. A negative learning environment or setting adversely affects student learning in many ways, such as low student achievement, poor behavior, student anxiety, or depression. The teacher has to work hard to maintain a positive learning environment, or one that allows students to feel comfortable and confident as learners. With a positive learning environment in your classroom, you can expect your students to be hard workers and have high levels of achievement.

The bright posters on the walls, well-organized spaces and cooperative learning arrangements are conducive to learning and the teacher must pay a lot of attention to the physical environment in her classroom. Physical environment includes classroom arrangement, cleanliness of the classroom and the overall colour and brightness. I wonder what learning can take place in a classroom that has very little light, has a dirty floor, messy bookshelves and broken supplies. Children need a clean, bright, organized space to strengthen learning experiences.

Teachers who shout at students, do not think about the consequences and embody an overall negative attitude. This is not good for student learning. The psychological environment in the classroom is how students feel about their learning. The teacher should have a calm, patient disposition which should be focused on helping students learn, both intellectually and socially. She should maintain a positive control of her classroom by being a role model for kind words and actions. Students react negatively when they feel things are unfair, unclear or are worried about getting into trouble. When the teacher is clear and consistent, offers praise and gratitude, and sets a good example, then her students are confident and comfortable in the classroom.

Instructional environment is that the teacher knows that how she teaches is just as important as what she teaches. All of us remember a favourite teacher from our school-days. When we look back to those days in nostalgia, we do not remember what that teacher taught but how she taught. That is what made all the difference in our student life.

Before we enter the new academic year, let us ponder on how to make our learning environment conducive to delivering quality education to all our students.

As we continue to ponder on our environment, in this issue of The Progressive Teacher, Shahnaz Aakhunji enlightens us about the fact that the greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it; Shani K I exhorts us that today’s children are not connected to nature which could have disastrous consequences for our planet earth; while Shree Prakash Sharma reminds us in the words of Lester R Brown that we ought to wake up to the fact that we have borrowed this earth from our children. Ashok Singh Guleria advises us to change from zero tolerance to restorative approach regarding school discipline; Prabhat Kaushik walks us through techniques of managing examination stress and anxiety; B D Bhargava shows us some strange nooks and crannies in mathematics that are fun to explore. Plus there are many other very interesting ideas in this issue of The Progressive Teacher for you to explore.

I would like to invite you to share your experiences and views on imparting 21st century skills with the teaching fraternity at large, through the pages of the next issue of The Progressive Teacher. I look forward to your contribution to The Progressive Teacher.

With best wishes

Rita Wilson has over 40 years of rich experience as educationist including over 30 years of experience in school leadership positions. She is the former Chief Executive and Secretary Council for the ICSE, New Delhi. She is a consultant to a number of corporate houses and educational institutions. She is serving as a Member of the Board of Governors/Managing Committees of some of the most prestigious schools and colleges of the country. She has vast exposure to the education systems of Japan, Germany, England, Thailand, Singapore, Sharjah, Dubai and Finland. She has initiated, conducted and organised workshops for school teachers and principals all over India With a B.A. (Hons) English Literature, M.A., M.Phil. (English Literature), B.Ed. to her credit, she has edited three series of English readers and work-books for school children.

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