Breve scritto su alcuni elementi per creare l’ambiente più adatto all’apprendimento in classe (articolo in inglese).
A safe environment encourages students to express themselves without feeling afraid of a punishment or a negative judgment. Students enjoy an environment free from judgment, and the teacher needs to let them know that differing opinions are accepted and that being “wrong” isn’t a bad thing. Students who are aware that failure is a learning experience won’t be scared of giving the wrong answer or telling something ‘silly’. On the other hand, it is important to celebrate positive achievements, using compliments and rewards, to encourage students to continue on their learning path.
A safe and positive environment, in a student’s perspective, is only possible if the teacher shows the example by staying calm and handling kindly each situation. Teachers that are kind, patient, open-mindend and genuinely interested in their students will allow students to feel free and give their best.
Organizing different activities will ensure that all the students get involved, and sharply increases their chance to have fun. Students can be very different: they have different interests, different backgrounds, different talents and skills. They appreciate when the teacher gives them the chance to express these differences. If they are aware of it, they will be more motivated even in dealing with the activities they don’t really like.
Cooperation and group activities
t is important to encourage cooperation between students, it is necessary to try to stimulate their interest so that their participation is a favorable contribution for the whole group. A sense of responsibility takes over towards the other and towards the group. The motivational drive to achieve the intended goal also has the potential to improve individual performance.
Working in small groups and cooperating with other students has several advantages, such as:
- Better student results;
- Improving intrinsic motivation;
- Developing more reasoning and critical thinking skills;
- More positive relationships between students;
- Developing mutual respect and team spirit;
- Greater psychological well-being and improved self-esteem.
Of course, this kind of activities can’t be used all the time. Group activities also have some disadvantages: they are time consuming, they can create noise and confusion in the classroom, they give too much power to students with stronger personality or better knowledge. However, it results to be very helpful if used wisely.
The teacher’s attitude must encourage mutual respect for students and among students themselves. This approach will allow students to learn self-discipline, cooperation, responsibility, resourcefulness and problem-solving skills.
The class provides ideal circumstances for students to learn and put into practice the concepts of democratic cooperation and mutual respect. These are long-term goals that go beyond the mere teaching of the curriculum. In a short-term perspective, an environment of mutual respect allows the resolution of many disciplinary problems. This is certainly a positive result, but the primary objective remains the long-term one. The ultimate goal is to allow students to acquire and consolidate the social skills necessary to face human relationships in life.
In addition, students will feel encouraged if the teacher and classmates show respect for them and their ideas. It is important that students feel listened to and taken seriously, and that they know that their ideas are being taken into consideration. This also allows students to feel involved, more motivated to follow the rules and take part in the learning process.
Aldrich, H., & Shimazoe, J. (2010), Group work can be gratifying: Understanding and overcoming resistance to cooperative learning, College Teaching, 58(2), 52-57.
Nelsen, J. (1981), Positive Discipline: The Classic Guide to Helping Children Develop Self-Discipline, Responsibility, Cooperation, and Problem-Solving Skills, Sunrise Press.
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