Learners enjoy learning in an environment that pushes their learning abilities, with effective teaching-learning strategies that support and enhance learning. Learners do not like to be isolated from the learning process but want to be a part of an impactful learning environment that gives them a sense of achievement and success and allows them to be active and engaged players throughout the learning journey. Learning environments have changed over time and continue to expand to meet student needs, allowing teachers to continually optimize their learning environment to help students meet their educational goals.
Many people think of learning environment as nothing more than just a classroom. It is much more than that. The classroom is one special part of the learning environment. When I think back to some of the classroom environments, I have encountered on my educational path, I remember the safety of the classroom, the relationship with classmates, teachers and the community. The desk layout was rigid with limited flexibility. There was no room for movement or expression. But still it was a place where we all students felt safe and supported while we pursued our knowledge, and we were always inspired by our surroundings particularly the library and the laboratory and the playground and the greenery surrounding the school which we explored freely during our breaks.
An effective learning environment consists of:
• Individual traits of learners;
• Aims of teaching and learning;
• Resources and activities that support learning;
• Assessment strategies to measure the impact of teaching on learning;
• A school culture that promotes an enriched learning environment.
In a learning environment, where there are relationships with learners based on trust, the learners will feel confident to ask questions. There will be no awkwardness or the fear of making mistakes or being ridiculed. Learners will thus develop their risk-taking ability with no fear of failure and will end up trying new things and exploring new knowledge and thereby always learning something new. Positive relationships with learners do not happen overnight. A highly effective teacher will be aware of the strengths and interests of the learners in her classroom and she will be interested in their strengths and interests and provide adequate opportunities to develop these.
She will also know the struggles and weaknesses of her learners and use the strengths and interests of the learners to help them overcome their personal barriers to learning. The learners feel positive when they see that every small step or their efforts are celebrated by their teacher. The efforts may result in success or may not, but the teacher will continue supporting her learners on her learning journey towards success. Learners feel involved and responsible for their learning while being comfortable enough to fully participate in group and individual activities. In an effective learning environment, learners are more likely to have the higher motivation that leads to better and more promising learning outcomes.
It is very important for the teacher to create a learning environment where students feel motivated to learn within the boundaries and expectations of a safe classroom. And she can do this by laying out classroom expectations clearly, by modeling and through various ways that encourage a safe environment. When learners see that their teacher is fair and just with the classroom rules, students feel motivated to do the right thing and help one another. There is a lot of focus on external rewards to encourage positivity in the classroom. These are fine in the beginning but there should be more focus on intrinsic motivation in the classroom to keep students interested and invested in their own learning goals. This helps students to take ownership of their own learning. Teachers greatly influence a learning environment with every action of theirs. The way they teach through effective engagement of learners, providing positive and constructive feedback and the atmosphere they create in the classroom determines the success of a lesson in the classroom. A thriving learning environment helps increase student focus and retention of information.
In order to create and sustain an enriched and effective learning environment, every member of the teaching-learning community should feel valued and connected. The learning culture should be supportive, and all should work collectively towards contributing to an enriched learning environment. The psychological needs of some learners or sometimes most learners will need to be met. Meeting these needs will ensure learner’s progress. Every learner enjoys praise and positive reinforcement. The learning attitude of learners is defined by the way the teachers keep it positive in a learning environment. Learners should enter a learning activity with a great sense of curiosity and this happens when learners get opportunities to ask questions and are not merely provided with answers. Use divergent resources to enhance learning experiences. Use a variety of learning models like inquiry-based learning, project-based learning, direct instruction, peer-to-peer learning, school-to-school learning, flipped classroom, elearning etc. Empty your classroom learning into a connected community. Have a balanced and transparent criteria for success. Model learning habits. Travel the Bloom’s taxonomy up and down, from the simple to the complex, in effort to maximize a student’s opportunities to learn—and demonstrate understanding—of content.
Author: Remediana Dias is an educationist, author and blogger (https://dyslexiagoa.wordpress.com). She runs her own NGO Vision Education Society.