Teacher-Student Relationships

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What is an ideal student-teacher relationship? Well, it depends on who you ask for example, positive teacher-student relationships are classified as having the presence of closeness, warmth, and positivity according to (Hamre & Pianta, 2001). However, an overwhelming amount of research seems to agree on one thing: a POSITIVE student-teacher relationship is important! Delpit, in 2005, found that students’ attitudes and achievement patterns were deeply affected by teachers’ commitment to establishing and maintaining relationships with them” (Woolfolk Hoy, et. al, 2006, p. 725). When teachers form positive bonds with students, classrooms become supportive spaces in which students can engage in academically and socially productive ways (Hamre & Pianta, 2001).

I remember when I decided to become a teacher. My goal: to be a positive adult in students’ lives that may not have that at home. And when I decided to get my masters in Educational Psychology a year into teaching it was to become a better teacher. I wanted to be able to better understand my students’ struggles and how they learned so I could relate and CONNECT with them on all levels and ultimately increase their learning. Now I wasn’t an expert, and still am not, however my subconscious must have been aware that this strategy is an effect one because it has become my passion. 

I am not the only teacher that feels passionate about building these relationships. Other than the facts pointing toward better student achievement why wouldn’t you want to have a good relationship with your students? I mean you do spend 6-7 hours a day with them 5 days a week. If you don’t like or get along with them I’m sure your time is miserable, imagine how they must feel since you are the authority figure controlling their destiny. 

Teaching is a tough profession and it is not for the faint of heart but if you can see the light bulb moments, build those relationships, and know that you ARE changing lives it is the MOST rewarding profession in existence!! Hold on to your passion and don’t lose the spark! I strive to build those relationships and knock down the walls each day and hearing from other teachers helps keep me motivated. So, on that note I’ve even you some research and personal experience now for some inspiring TedTalks and a truthful comic. 

'The best advice I can give, to a young teacher, is to realize that students will probably forget most of what you say but not how it made them feel.'

Rita Pierson- Every Kid Needs a Champion is an amazing inspirational video to boost your spirits on a tough day.

My favorite line from the video is (my mother) “left a legacy of relationships that will never disappear”.

Positive Videos– This is a Huff post with links and articles referencing multiple TedTalk videos on student-teacher relationships.

Additional sources

TED Weekends emphasizes the importance of the student-teacher relationship

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tedweekends/

References

Pianta, R. C., Hamre, B. K., & Allen, J. P. (2012). Teacher-student relationships and engagement: Conceptualizing, measuring, and improving the capacity of classroom interactions Handbook of research on student engagement (pp. 365-386): Springer.

Woolfolk Hoy, A., Davis, H., & Pape, S. J. (2006). Teacher knowledge and beliefs. In P. A. Alexander & P. H. Winne (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum and Associates.

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Cooperative Learning

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What is cooperative learning?

Cooperative learning is a successful teaching strategy in which small teams, each with students of different levels of ability, use a variety of learning activities to improve their understanding of a subject.

There is a difference between group work and cooperative learning.

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In cooperative learning the teacher assigns each student in the group a role. Kagan uses the acronym PIES.

Positive interdependence

Individual accountability

Equal participation

Simultaneous interaction

There are a multitude of structures (strategies) for cooperative learning. It involves every student in the group and the task is not complete until each student performs their role. It holds all students accountable of the learning and prevents students from hiding in the background and letting the other group members complete the assignment. It requires all students to be part of the learning.

In group work students are placed in a group and even a task to complete. The students are in charge of organizing the group members and deciding whom does what. This allows students with strong leadership skills to take over and do most of the work. In cooperative groups the teacher assigns each student a role in the activity preventing students from taking over or not doing anything. Cooperative learning encourages students to learn to work together while everyone in the group learns the content.

If you are interested in learning more about cooperative learning or how to implement it effectively I highly recommend checking out Kagan.

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References 

Alexander, P. (2006). Handbook of educational psychology (2nd ed.). Mahwah, N.J.: Erlbaum.

Clowes, G. (n.d.). Kagan Publishing & Professional Development. Retrieved October 17, 2015, from http://www.kaganonline.com/free_articles/research_and_rationale/330/The-Essential-5-A-Starting-Point-for-Kagan-Cooperative-Learning

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Learning in Context: Situated Learning Theory

What is situated learning? What a great question.
Situated learning is an instructional approach developed by Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger in the early 1990s, and follows the work of Dewey, Vygotsky, and others (Clancey, 1995) who claim that students are more inclined to learn by actively participating in the learning experience. Situated learning essentially is a matter of creating meaning from the real activities of daily living. Whaaaaat?
So basically it is learning in context, during everyday life, learning by doing, while doing.
Examples of situated learning:
  •  Field trips where students actively participate in an unfamiliar environment
  • Cooperative education and internship experiences in which students are immersed and physically active in an actual work environment
  • Music and sports (physical education) practice which replicate actual setting of these events, e.g., orchestras, studios, training facilities
  • Laboratories and child-care centers used as classrooms in which students are involved in activities which replicate actual work settings
Typically classroom learning is in contrast with situated learning. We teach our students concepts and expect them to later apply them to real world situations.
The student is “situated” in the learning experience and knowledge acquisition becomes a part of the learning activity, its context, and the “culture in which it is developed and used” (Oregon Technology in Education Council, 2007). Students form or “construct” their own knowledge from experiences they bring to the learning situation; the success of situated learning experiences relies on social interaction and kinesthetic activity.
Situated learning environments place students in authentic learning situations where they are actively immersed in an activity while using problem-solving (critical thinking) skills. You can use cooperative learning and problem based learning to support situated learning.
References
Alexander, P. (2006). Handbook of educational psychology (2nd ed.). Mahwah, N.J.: Erlbaum.
Situated Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved October 17, 2015, from http://www.facdev.niu.edu/facdev/resources/guide/strategies/situated_learning.pdf
Stein, D. (n.d.). Situated Learning in Adult Education. ERIC Digest. Retrieved October 17, 2015, from http://www.ericdigests.org/1998-3/adult-education.html

Teacher Learning Communities: Understanding what a PLC is

Teacher Learning Communities: Understanding what a PLC is

Teacher learning communities can be defined as groups of teachers who “continually inquire into their practice and, as a result, discover, create, and negotiate new meanings that improve their practice.”  -(Skerrett, 2010)

There are different types of teacher learning comminities.

  • Professional Learning Communities (PLC) (most common)
  • Faculty Learning Communities
  • Teaching and Learning Communities
  • Professional Learning Groups
  • Collaborative Learning Communities
  • Critical Friends Groups
  • Communities of Practice

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Within my school district we do PLC once a week.

What is a PLC?

Professional Learning Communities are a group of educators that meets regularly, shares expertise, and works collaboratively to improve teaching skills and the academic performance of students.

The goals of a PLC is to increase teacher knowledge, understanding and skill in differentiated instruction and to increase student motivation and achievement as a result.

A PLC is a usually a group of 4 to 6 teachers and/or administrators, the group should have goals in mind and a set of norms to follow. They need a set time  and location to meet.

Example Norms

  • We will maintain a positive attitude during each meeting.
  • We will stay on topic and follow the agenda.
  • We will begin promptly at the designated starting time.
  • We will listen to and consider all ideas.

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References 

Alexander, P. (2006). Handbook of educational psychology (2nd ed.). Mahwah, N.J.: Erlbaum.
Skerrett, A. (2010). “There’s going to be community. There’s going to be knowledge”: Designs for learning in a standardized age. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26, 648.

Problem-Based Learning

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  • Want to engage students?
  • Help them develop flexible knowledge?
  • Effective problem solving skills?
  • Teach them how to be self-directed learners?
  • To have effective collaboration skills and intrinsic motivation?
  • Put the responsibility of learning on them?

Then problem-based learning is for you!

What is problem based learning? PBL is a student-centered pedagogy in which students learn about a subject through the experience of solving an open-ended problem.

    • The problem is what drives the motivation and the learning.
      Instead of teaching  material and  having students apply the knowledge to solve problems, the problem is presented first. Students generally must:
    • Examine and define the problem.
    • Explore what they already know about underlying issues related to it.
    • Determine what they need to learn and where they can acquire the information and tools necessary to solve the problem.
    • Evaluate possible ways to solve the problem.
    • Solve the problem.
    • Report on their findings.

PBL assignments can be short or they can be longer. PBL is often group oriented

Why use PBL?

PBL teaches students how to

  • Work in teams.
  • Management skills.
  • Oral and written communication.
  • Self-awareness.
  • Working independently.
  • Critical thinking.
  • Self-directed learning.
  • Applying course content to the real world.
  • Researching and information literacy.
  • Problem solving and transfer of learning.

Steps to designing a PBL project

  • Explain the learning outcomes of the project. What do you want students to know or learn.
  • Create the problem. It should be a real-world situation, this helps with transfer of learning.
  • Establish rules at the beginning to prepare students to work well in groups.
  • Give your students different roles based on their strengths.
  • Establish how you will evaluate and assess the assignment. Have the students evaluate themselves and each other.

References 

Alexander, P. (2006). Handbook of educational psychology (2nd ed.). Mahwah, N.J.: Erlbaum.
Bash, L. (2003). Adult learners in the academy. Bolton, MA: Anker.
Problem-Based Learning. (2014, July 16). Retrieved October 17, 2015, from http://www.cte.cornell.edu/teaching-ideas/engaging-students/problem-based-learning.html

Jack Mezirow

Transforming the Field of Adult Learning

Jack Mezirow, born 1923, was an American sociologist and Emeritus Professor of Adult and Continuing Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is known for his theory of transformative learning, inspired by his wife going back to grad school. But what is transformative learning and how did it transform the field of adult learning? And why should you care?

“Transformative learning is the expansion of consciousness through the transformation of basic worldview and specific capacities of the self; transformative learning is facilitated through consciously directed processes such as appreciatively accessing and receiving the symbolic contents of the unconscious and critically analyzing underlying premises.” HUH? Basically transformative theory is the idea of people changing the way they interpret their experiences and their interactions with the world.

………..an individual becomes aware of holding a limiting or distorted view. If the individual critically examines this view, opens herself to alternatives, and consequently changes the way she sees things, she has “transformed” some part of how she makes meaning out of the world. (Cranton, n.d.)

Mezirow believed that transformations often follow some variation of the phases (or steps), originally ten phases, of meaning becoming clarified, he continued to develop his theory over the course of 20+ years
The ten phases are as follows:
  • A disorienting dilemma
  • A self examination with feelings of guilt or shame
  • A critical assessment of epistemic, sociocultural, or psychic assumptions
  • Recognition that one’s discontent and the process of transformation are shared and that others have negotiated a similar change
  • Exploration of options for new roles, relationships, and actions
  • Planning a course of action
  • Acquisition of knowledge and skills for implementing one’s plan
  • Provision trying of new roles
  • Building of competence and self-confidence in new roles and relationships
  • A reintegration into one’s life on the basis of conditions dictated by one’s perspective

So how is this field changing?

At the time of his theory adult learning focused primarily on the mastery of basic skills, Mezirow’s theory of transformative learning “reached right into changes of the identity,” wrote the adult education theorists Peter Sutherland and Jim Crowther. “The theory has helped trigger sweeping changes and ongoing debate on fronts ranging from social activism to graduate and adult education, to human resources development. It also forms the basis for AEGIS (Adult Education Guided Intensive Study), the unique doctoral program in adult learning founded by Mezirow at TC in 1982 and since replicated worldwide.” Now that is amazing! I’d like to have a doctoral program. Not only has he changed the field of adult learning he spoke all around the world and his work has been used by people in medicine, corporations, social work, elementary schools and the military.

Why should you care?

Because he shaped the world you are currently in. If you’ve ever learned as an adult you channel Mezirow through your transformative phases of learning. And who doesn’t love a sweet man inspired by is wonderful wife.

Peace, Love, and Educational Psychology

Natalie Hewitt

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For more information on each phase of the transformative learning process visit https://sites.google.com/site/transformativelearning/elements-of-the-theory-1.

References

Mezirow, J., and associates. (2000). Learning as transformation: a critical perspective on a theory in progress. San Fransisco: Josey bass

Mezirow’s Ten Phases of Transformative Learning – Transformative Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved October 11, 2015.

Svinicki, M. D. (2004). Learning and Motivation in   the Postsecondary Classroom. Bolton, MA:   Anker Publishing Company, Inc.

TC Media Center from the Office of External Affairs. (2014, October 11). Retrieved October 11, 2015, from http://www.tc.columbia.edu/news.htm?articleID=9698