In the schools of Reggio Emilia, environment is considered the third teacher. This notion is something that began with early childhood when classrooms are carefully prepared and readied for any learning a child might encounter within its four walls. This means that educators must make sure the environment is interactive enough for students to be able to learn from it. Through environment, teachers can begin creating a culture of learning. Every educator has a belief about how a classroom should look, and it is important to make sure that there is a rationale behind every part of the learning environment.
Decorating Schools to Create a Better Learning Environment
Decorating one's classroom has become big business these days. Teachers can find theme materials on Teachers Pay Teachers stores, and even Target has classroom decorating supplies. So it is not difficult to create an environment that helps teachers and students grow as learners creating a culture of learning. The trick in decorating is to come up with a plan so that each area has a purpose, reflects the teacher's teaching style, and encourages children to take advantage of their learning environment. For example, a classroom library might be organized by genres, and the posters on the wall teach students what to expect in each genre. There might also be a place for students to rate the books they are reading or showcase a book they loved.
A relatively new concept is the makerspace, where teachers create a workspace in the classroom and students are given tools and materials and the time to create something that solves a real-world problem. For some students who are used to traditional instruction-based schooling, this can be a struggle. So a teacher needs to help students see that they must use what they know to create something new and something purposeful. Creating a culture of learning here is the trick to getting students to work in teams. Students need to understand that in a learning environment failure is inevitable, but it is also the path to success.
Making a Student-Centered Classroom
When the learning environment is designed by a teacher to reflect students' personal interests, the environment is motivational for them. Debbie Diller, education specialist, wrote a book called Spaces and Places: Designing Classrooms for Literacy, which shares the many ways a room can be student-centered, organized, and purposeful for creating a culture of learning. Student centered classrooms are
- Arranged for collaboration; desks and tables are organized for students to share
- Places where questions are open-ended and encourage reflection
- Flexible; teachers adjust lessons based on student motivation
- Places where students would come even if they did not have to
Creating a culture of learning is an engaging and intensive activity. Teachers and principals must set aside traditional views and look to what works for their students. They need to meet students where they are and invest in learning about what interests them so that they can create fun learning environments where students want to spend their time.
Learn more about the UT Arlington online M.Ed. with an Emphasis in Literacy Studies.
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