Over the weekend I arrived home from a brief vacation in Southern California. My sister was a DNP conference with her students. I tagged along with her, and was able to visit one of our American deserts for the first time ever! It was something on my Bucket List! If you’d like to see photos or read about my visit, you can check out my posts from the last few days.
Palm Oasis on the San Andreas Fault
Silent Sunday: A Visit to Joshua Tree National Park
Today, I am trying to buckle down. I am in the midst of completing my last course for a Master’s degree in Natural Resources with a focus on Environmental Education. The course is an elective, Advanced Educational Psychology, as implied in my title. Thursday, I have a paper due. The paper is on How Learning Happens. Whoa! This is a very broad topic with a wealth of information stemming from several areas. There’s the developmental theories, the learning theories, assessment, and transfer of information (also with multiple theories). The paper has a word limit of 400-600 words. UGH! If you read my blog, you know they ALL are about that length. So, I know it won’t be hard to reach the word limit, but I also do not want to go over it. I can be verbose, especially when I am trying to explain my point of view, substantiated with references. So, writing the paper and staying within the word count limits will be a challenge. I also keep putting it off, as I am doing with writing this blog post instead. At least, I got it outlined last night.
I’ve chosen four areas on which to focus for my paper as they apply to How Learning Happens. They are:
- Active Engagement
- Influences from the Environment – The right time, the right place, and the right person (that’s you – or any quality educator)
- Growth Mindset for All – Including the Teacher
The course readings focused on the ideal – or what we as educators should be doing to make learning successful for our students. The trouble is that many of us are not providing the ideals – a trusting environment where risk is encouraged without fear of failure, fair assessments constructed to encourage critical thinking without trickery, putting ourselves in a place where we role model growth, mistake making, and life-long learning, and transparency. Ah, yes! Transparency. We need to set forth clear expectations, provide feedback on assignments in the way of comments not just a score, and make sure there is engagement along with content. So, I ask you today, what could you do, now, today – not next year or next semester or next week, to make a better learning environment for your students? We’re all in this together and our students depend on us.
Most of us want the best for our students. But, in reading the course material leading up to this assignment, I realized that wanting and doing are not the same. We want to be quality educators but things get in the way. Gone are the days of creative teaching, of making our curriculum fit the needs of the students (not the tests), and going above and beyond for those we teach. We need those days back. And, tomorrow can start with you!
So, tell me, what will you do TODAY to improve your classroom environment, your content, your assessments, your own skill as an educator to meet the ideals of facilitating student learning?