Creating Significant Learning Environments

My classroom is a place of learning, but is it true learning at its best? After reading, A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change by Brown & Thomas (2011), I have realized just how far away my students are from the new culture of learning that they require. How can I move my students into the mode of learning that they need to be successful in a technology-rich world?

I believe that as a teacher, I have enormous control over if and when my students become curious and passionate about learning. As I continue my trek through the DLL program at Lamar University, I continue to self-evaluate what I am doing in my classroom and what I can do better. This drive to become a better teacher is what will give me the urge to figure out how to provide my students with the learning environment they need to be successful in everything they do, not just what they do in the classroom.

Learning comes in many shapes and sizes. Students are the most important part of that learning and need to be the center of it going forward no matter what roadblocks come up along the way. One of the main aspects of the new culture of learning that really hit home was that learning needs to be considered an environment that includes many smaller aspects; not the old way where students are treated like machines that need to be taught how to complete tasks (Brown & Thomas, 2011). I feel that my classroom leans toward the latter and that is hurting my students. Incorporating a way to allow students to use their imagination in conjunction with the information they are taking in is a good place to start.

Most of the time I tend to get anxious and want to implement new ideas that I learn from books, videos or basically anything that I believe will benefit my students. I began listening to Fail Until You Don’t: Fight. Grind. Repeat, by Bobby Bones on Audible recently and can’t stop finding connections to my classroom and the growth mindset that I started making my students aware of this year. He even references Dr. Carol Dweck and her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2016). This book has really helped me see some of the ways that I need to improve my willingness to push through obstacles and not be okay with not reaching a goal. If I am unwilling to push through, how can I expect my students to do it?

This talk about the mindset of my students reminds me about the example of ‘Googling the Error’ that Brown and Thomas explained. The error is the mistake a student would make in a classroom or in life and they have the ability to find a solution to that mistake without talking to anyone, especially their teacher. They can look up that error or mistake using today’s technology and find a way to correct and learn from that mistake on their own (Brown & Thomas, 2011). I want to allow for this kind of learning to happen on a daily basis in my classroom. I believe that this is the foundation of my blended learning model that I have proposed in my innovation plan.

Retrieved from: https://pixabay.com/en/baby-boy-child-childhood-computer-84627/

Embracing this reality and the difference in approaches changes the entire outlook on a student’s journey through their education and points to a student learning in and out of a classroom as a part of life using the digital tools at their fingertips. Change can be scary but learning to allow this change can motivate and challenge students in their learning. I hope to instill this willingness for change in my students as a part of their personalized learning plans. Brown and Thomas also use an example of ‘how’ students learned by reading the Harry Potter books and not ‘what’ they were learning. This simple play on words reminds us of the reality of testing but helps us understand that it is not the content a student is learning, but the imagination and collaboration they use to learn. Learning is not meant to be an ‘isolated process of information absorption’ (Brown & Thomas, 2011). Following this philosophy will be a great foundation for the future of my classroom.

Unfortunately, I have come across a major challenge that I will be facing in my attempt to change the way my classroom learns. The biggest challenge that many teachers face is also mine as well; state testing. Right now a classroom tends to veer toward the standards the state has provided, which forces a teacher to teach students ‘about the world’ instead of allowing for the students to learn through engagement ‘within the world’. That reminds me of the phrase so many teachers use in their classrooms; they ask their students if they ‘get it’ (Brown & Thomas, 2011). This is a reality that must be squashed.

Change is not easy for students, but I believe that with a focus on collaboration, imagination, and play in my classroom, we can create a significant learning environment that will lead to success. The idea that students need to ‘get it’ just so they can be tested on it is a thing of the past. The new culture of learning will begin to allow students to reach limits they never thought were possible, without the worry that their passion is not on the test. Opening students minds to the possibilities to learn without the classroom and on their own is now the present, not the future. 

References

Bones, B. (2018). Fail until you don’t: Fight. grind. repeat. New York, NY. HarperCollins.

Brown, J. S. & Thomas, D. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, KY. CreateSpace.

Dweck, C. (2016). Mindset: The psychology of success. New York, NY. Ballentine Books.

Images

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