YOU (Teacher)Create the Environment
You are the important ingredient in teaching a child to love learning. In fact, you are the cornerstone of the classroom environment. No matter if you are in a tiny basement classroom or a huge sunny space, it is your interactions with children that turn any place into loving-learning lab. As you well know there are times to watch children, times to encourage them, times to interact and times to model learning. Like the pure act of discovery, your role is always changing.
• As an observer, you listen and watch. The perceptive teacher is aware of children’s interactions with each other and materials and uses this information to incorporate children’s interests into the daily program. By respecting children’s process, the teacher fosters a sense of independence in children that builds confidence and skills.
• As a supporter, you encourage and accept. The compassionate teacher inspires a classroom tone that welcomes children’s original ideas, accepts all contributions equally and at the same time is sensitive to individual abilities. In this safe and secure atmosphere, children can feel free to express their ideas without fear of being wrong, or of not being taken seriously. The teacher uses praise to build on children’s strengths and abilities so that all children see themselves as successful learners.
• As a facilitator, you inspire and assist. The aware teacher knows when to ask an open-ended question or add a new material to inspire children to move to higher levels of thinking and problem solving. The teacher invites children to think creatively, fluently and critically with question starters such as: How many ways can you…? What will happen if….?
• As a model, you demonstrate and surprise. The inspired teacher shows the delightful surprises in learning from the simplest events and the smallest mistakes. The excitement a teacher shows when she finds a beautiful bug on the playground or discovers how to balance a block, demonstrates the supreme joy of discovering and learning. Plus a willingness to show children that the teacher can make mistakes …then can ask the class for help in solving the resulting problem… can make children feel helpful and important. At the same time they learn that making an error is not a “bad thing” and is an important part of the love of learning. As Lillian Katz said, “Life is a series of choices of which errors we prefer.”
Through The Eyes of Children
How do you create a physical environment that encourages a love of learning? To do this you must first look through the eyes of a child. Adopt a child’s viewpoint as you look at your classroom. Get down on their eye level (kneeling is best) and see what they see.
• What elements speak to you…draw you in?
• What do you want to touch?
• What do you want to look at more closely?
• What makes you wonder?
• What makes you feel welcome?
• Do you see yourself reflected in the room?
• Are their elements that represent my culture?
• Are you visually overwhelmed by things, colors, and patterns?
• Do you understand where everything belongs?
• Are there visual cues and signs that assist you?
• Do you want to play and learn here?