“All educators want to improve the work they do for students, their families, and the community” (ASCD, n.d., para. 2). Every school and every teacher wants to provide a safe learning environment in which students are engaged in the learning process, where learning is connected to student interests, and the learning needs of each student are met. ASCD (n.d.) states, “A whole child approach, which ensures that each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged, sets the standard for comprehensive, sustainable school improvement and provides for long-term student success” (para. 2). The focus of this approach is to direct teachers to first understand the “whole child” before determining learning goals and planning for instruction. In the screencast, Dr. Williams states, “The teacher’s first task in a learner-centered approach is to study the students’ likes and dislikes, level of maturity, and strengths and weaknesses. It is important to understand the whole child because the child is the key to the curriculum” (T.Williams, personal communication, February 19, 2013).
In my own classroom, I plan for accommodations and consider students’ background knowledge prior to the lesson. However, I think more emphasis is placed on the learning target. Much of the learning is direct in order to ensure that students understand the objectives and the expectations for demonstrating understanding of the learning. In the screencast, Dr. Williams states that a non-direct or learner centered approach puts feelings, emotions, dreams, and aspirations ahead of basic skills and knowledge with the idea that achievement will follow (T.Williams, personal communication, February 19, 2013). I think creating learning centers that cover multiple subjects will allow me more time to assess student interests’ and abilities.
Dr. Williams states, “Learning centers are strategically located around the room and students are encouraged to engage in centers that interest them. They allow teachers more time to observe students, to listen and to talk to them about their interests, and helps students with ideas and materials in order to facilitate their inquiry” (T.Williams, personal communication, February 19, 2013). Learning centers in my classroom would allow students to take ownership of the learning and engage in areas that interest them. Gardner (1993) states, “An individual centered school would be rich in assessment of individual abilities and proclivities. It would seek to match individuals not only to curricular areas, but also to particular ways of teaching those subjects” (para. 11). The assessment data I gather from observation of students will also give me a better insight on student learning styles that will help me plan for different ways of teaching the curriculum.
In addition to matching the curriculum to meet the multiple intelligences and learning needs of students, I want to ensure that my classroom is a safe learning environment. It is important that students are not only engaged in the learning but also developing social skills that will them feel successful and make positive choices. Roger (1983) states, “The research evidence clearly indicates that when students’ feelings are responded to, when they are regarded as worthwhile human begins capable of self-direction, and when their teacher relates to them in a person-to-person manner, good things happen” (para. 10). One way I plan to support student’s social growth is to implement role playing in my classroom. “Role playing is a model of teaching that facilitates social problem solving. Role playing has been shown to be effective in helping students learn positive ways of handling interpersonal conflict wherever it occurs” (Del’Ollio & Donk, 2007, p 282). I think this type of learning helps students understand that their teacher values a safe learning environment where everyone is treated with respect. I currently use pre-written scenarios for students to role play to help teach classroom expectations and school promises. I think it’s even more powerful when scenarios are taken from real-life situations. I can see this being a powerful tool when students have difficulty problem solving with their peers at recess. Rather than me discussing positive choices and providing solutions, students are involved in the decision-making process. Student involvement will hopefully help them apply their new skills when faced with challenges in their every day life.
ASCD: The whole child initiative. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/whole-child.aspx
Dell’Olio, J. & Donk, T. (2007) Models of teaching: Connecting student learning with standards. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications
Gardner, H. (1993). “In a nutshell” From Multiple intelligences: The theory in practice. Retrieved from https://bbwebprod.spu.edu/courses/1/EDU6526_28255201232/content/_831008_1/Gardner%20Reading.pdf
Rogers, C. (1983). Researching Person-Centered Issues in Education. Freedom to Learn. Retrieved from https://bbweb-prod.spu.edu/courses/1/EDU6526_28255201232/content/_831007_1/Carl%20Rogers.pdf.