It’s the start of another school year and we are running around organising getting to know you type activities, collaborating on class rules etc. Why?
- we are people and people like to make connections with others.
- because research has proven that creating a supportive learning environment has a positive impact on student learning.
This is why creating a supportive learning environment is included in the Effective Pedagogy section of the New Zealand Curriculum. This approach recognises that learning takes place in a social and cultural context.
From a student perspective this means that learning occurs best when they:
- enjoy positive relationships (see anything by Russell Bishop e.g. http://cognitioneducation.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Russell-Bishop-Editorial-for-CPCO.pdf)
- feel accepted (this reminds me of Nathan Mikaere Wallis’ finding from neuroscience research that the safer you feel, the more learning you can do).
- are able to be active members of their learning community
Effective teachers will:
- foster positive relationships (see Hattie, Visible Learning, Teacher-student relationships pp. 118-119)
- create caring, inclusive learning environments (see Hattie, Visible Learning, Classroom Climate pp. 102-107)
- work with parents and caregivers as key partners (here’s a great article on this from EdWeek)
- build relationships with the wider school community
- attend to the cultural and linguistic diversity of their students (see Alton-Lee, Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling, Best Evidence Synthesis)
Examples of ways we do this at Lynfield College:
- A focus on knowing our learners at the start of every year.
- Our Year 9 Orientation Programme which includes Peer support, Digital Citizenship etc before the normal timetable starts.
- Caring for the Community at the end of each year where we connect with and get active in our local community.
- Celebrate our diversity with events like Cultural Day.
- Our Year 9 Soft Materials students making quilts for Foster children.
- Year 13 Carpentry making sheds which last year were used to house underprivileged people in Tauranga.
Possible next steps to extend our practice in this area:
More focus on culturally responsive pedagogy so that our diversity is brought into the classroom to enable deeper learning.
More subjects taking on the challenge to integrate community projects into their curriculum, rather than just waiting for a special few days at the end of the year.
This was shared with staff at Lynfield College today so we can work together to improve our practice in this aspect of teaching. I would love to hear what you are doing at your schools to create supportive learning environments as well. Please comment below and share your awesome practice.