Put the child at the centre of their learning experiences
The child comes first – the whole child, that is. Make the classroom a place in which all children can grow – academically and socially. Be kind. Be organised. A learning environment that is “teacher-led, student-sensitive”, is an achievable reality.
Celebrate thinking over process
Provoke, listen and respond. Do so carefully and thoughtfully. Create a classroom culture that stimulates and celebrates the children’s thinking. As Daniel Willingham says, “memory is the residue of thinking”. That is, you remember what you think about.
Trust children, trust yourself
Easy to say. Hard to do. Trust children as we ourselves were not trusted. Break the cycle. It will require a leap of faith. Understand the ways and conditions of the human spirit that will allow children to do their best learning.
Oh, The Humanity!
Connect on a human level. Think back to what you remember most fondly at school. A high quality and trusting relationship between the teacher and the student is the foundation of good learning.
Yes you can dance!
A vibrant innovative learning environment will look and feel different to what you normally see. Happy learners make great learners. Learning that is not forced works best.
Get the physical landscape right
A classroom environment that is inviting and centred around the learning needs of children is like a second teacher. A wide range of easily accessible resources and materials need to be made available; to be played with and manipulated.
Get the learning environment right and watch all those ‘negative’ behaviours disappear
All children are curious and want to make sense out of the world around them. Children (and adults alike) are social creatures who seek positive interactions and happiness. Identify and model the behaviour you want and then provide a physical and cultural environment that allows that behaviour to shine.
Make learning a no-failure experience
Our inherited educational culture carries the baggage of a low trust, pass/fail system. By catering to children’s natural curiosity, to the widest range of skills, interests and abilities, everyone will be a winner. It’s good to have high expectations, as long as they are realistic, achievable and scaffolded well.
What’s the rush?
As tempting as it may be, resist hurrying children into academic achievement at the expense of their pre-academic development. Piaget got the ball rolling with his extensive research into mapping the stages of cognitive development in childhood.
Innovation and risk taking
Re-positioning your teaching to be child centered and working within the system can feel like a bit of a stretch. And it is. That’s why you have to get agile. Innovate. Be prepared to take small, calculated risks that will accumulate into bigger improvements. In that way, you can act first and ask for permission later. Keep asking yourself and others, ‘why are we doing this the way we are?’
Ease Education: Teaching at a human scale.