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Catherine Hall

EDU 504
14 December 2018
Final

Throughout this semester, we have studied studying. It is an interesting concept, learning

about learning and one that has positively impacted how I will teach. Before this class I had no

idea how much goes into learning. From the environment a student is in, to the people he or she

is surrounded by, and the content of the class itself - there is much more that impacts a child’s

ability to learn than I would have guessed. My own personal theory of learning is definitely still

evolving, but this class has affirmed in me that the first step in learning for any student, is that

the student feels safe, cared for, and capable.

This first step can be brought about in many ways, but I believe that it starts with the

parents. As the primary educators of their children, parents are the first ones to cultivate a safe,

and caring environment for learning to take place. Parents, hopefully, are the ones to begin

instilling in their child how capable he or she is. They are also responsible for continuing

education at home once their children are in school. This means assisting with homework, with

socializing, extracurriculars, and advocating for their children. Additionally, parents should be

involved and in communication with their child(ren)’s teacher. Together, the teacher and parents

should communicate about what the expectations are and discuss what role each person will play

and how they will unfold. Parents will be parents, teachers will be teachers, and both will have

the students best interest at heart. Teachers, as the secondary educators of children, should take

the responsibility of creating a safe and caring learning environment for their students seriously.

By the time a child is 5 years old they are spending many hours at school. For this reason,

I believe that children should be “taught” not only academics but social, mental, emotional,
intellectual, and ethical development (Morally Mature, LS 4). We know from Piaget (Piaget

Article, LS 3) that children have a lot to learn in regards to life and their whole-person

development, and schools should assist with that. By “taught”, I do not mean lectures and notes

all the time, but I mean giving the ​opportunity to learn​ in these areas of life. This can look like

playtime in kindergarten to socialize, or having a teacher as a role model in 6th grade to show

good emotional stability. This learning can take all kinds of forms. Additionally, I think a

question should be raised here of, “What if the parent does not want that? What if they do not

want morality to be taught?” Objecting to this whole-person type learning is a freedom that the

parent has. However, I would say the answer is not for the teacher to stop allowing this type of

learning to take place, but the answer is for the parents to find the school and the teacher that

lines up with what they want their child to be taught. The parents can choose what and who

influences their children, including homeschooling if they wish!

This belief extends to the school as a whole. In the school system today, we are focused

on test scores (Teach to the Test, LS 5). We see test-scores as quantifying how well are

education system is working. I don’t agree with this method (and prefer teaching to the

whole-person) because it has many negative consequences for students. It lowers their sense of

worth and self-esteem. It puts them under undue pressure and stress. It causes burn out. We see

children giving up before they even start because they do not believe they are capable of tackling

these tests. However, as educators and as a whole school system, there are things the school can

do to work with it and still provide a quality education. As we learned during this course and

another course I am taking right now, the teacher can do activities that teach the material as well

as assist the development of the whole person. The school should do its best to create a
whole-person curriculum. This could look like learning about environmental and anatomical

science by drawing an animal (art and creativity) and then labeling the body parts.

This brings me to what I believe the second step in learning is: setting expectations for

the role of the student. This means that at the beginning of the year the teacher and parents need

to agree on what the expectations are for the student. Then, the teacher and parents need to let

their students know of these expectations. I have seen this done by asking students to write out

goals: goals for this week, month, year, 5 years, 30 years, etc… about everything! Then review

these together. All goals boil down to being the best we can be. By having that acknowledged at

the beginning of the year, the teacher is able to communicate with the students about why they

are learning and how they will achieve their goals. It was an incredibly fruitful exercise that puts

the student in control of his or her attitude towards learning, gives them an internal motivation to

learn, and sets everyone up for a successful and joyful year.

Giving the students control over their attitude is different than giving them control of the

classroom. As we studied this semester, I discovered that I do not think the montessori method is

good for most students (especially as a high school science teacher) (Montessori Article, LS 2). I

believe in teacher-driven learning that is focused on the whole student. This means that teachers

should teach in a way that is captivating, interactive, and giving students the space to learn in

every aspect. I personally like a mixture of lecture-based, group activities, and whole-brain

teaching. This provides a nature of learning that is interesting to students, which creates a

classroom that is safe and makes students feel capable! This type of teaching also provides an

external motivation to learn. Having both an internal and external learning motivator is key.
Continuing to focus on the student, the next step in learning is the actual process of

learning. Teachers study how to teach and how to encourage learning for four years or more in

order to become licensed teachers, but these years of study mean nothing if you do not know

who you are teaching. If the educator ignores the demographics of his or her classroom no

learning will take place. It is important to know the diverse ability levels in your classroom. This

helps you as the educator to help students who need extra help and challenge those who need a

challenge. A solution to this would be to have a teacher’s aid. Additionally, it is important to

acknowledge the socioeconomic background of each student. For instance, in my classroom for

student teaching there are a few children who cannot even begin to learn in the classroom

because they are cold and starving and being shuffled around from house to house the second

they leave the school. Because I know that, I know to pour love and confidence into those kids in

order for learning to take place. Finally, it is important to acknowledge cultural diversity in the

classroom. Growing up as a military child, I would go to a new school every two years and the

cultures would be radically different. In the deep south they were incredibly polite and relaxed

and more focused on sports than on academics. In the northeast, academics took precedence over

nearly everything else in life. It is important to know where children are coming from. Setting

expectations for students can help assimilate students with different cultures into one coherent,

unified classroom.

Overall, this course has really taught me how little I know. Before November, I had no

idea how many factors go into learning. Now, I feel like I have a better grasp on not only how to

help a student learn, but how to teach better and how to learn better myself. In my future

classroom, I will definitely be more aware of all the different levels of diversity and will find a
way to create a unified classroom. Additionally, I had no idea how important it is to teach the

whole-person in the classroom. Growing up, I did not know my teachers were assisting my

development but looking back I can perfectly see where they allowed space for experience and

mentorship to teach me about more than just academics. In my future classroom I definitely plan

on teachers more than just science! Thank you for a wonderful and insightful course, Dr. Furda!

Works Cited

Morally Mature Person from Learning Session 4


https://s3.us-east-1.amazonaws.com/blackboard.learn.xythos.prod/5853020222825/707
560?response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%2A%3DUTF-8%27%27Teaching%2
520Moral%2520or%2520Ethical%2520Development%25201.pdf&response-content-type=applic
ation%2Fpdf&X-Amz-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&X-Amz-Date=20181214T220701Z&X-
Amz-SignedHeaders=host&X-Amz-Expires=21600&X-Amz-Credential=AKIAIL7WQYDOOHAZJ
GWQ%2F20181214%2Fus-east-1%2Fs3%2Faws4_request&X-Amz-Signature=9225adb10ed7
d9883ef3ce8c9711c7e82672231c43c575d0e31c4a1812fb3dd1

Piaget Article from Learning Session 3


https://s3.us-east-1.amazonaws.com/blackboard.learn.xythos.prod/5853020222825/707
539?response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%2A%3DUTF-8%27%27Piaget%252
0Periods%2520and%2520Stages.pdf&response-content-type=application%2Fpdf&X-Amz-Algor
ithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&X-Amz-Date=20181214T220520Z&X-Amz-SignedHeaders=host&
X-Amz-Expires=21600&X-Amz-Credential=AKIAIL7WQYDOOHAZJGWQ%2F20181214%2Fus-
east-1%2Fs3%2Faws4_request&X-Amz-Signature=8a0886d6edd4dba44cb116c6c96eea2a6a5
4940fa5b3454f84ddab63021402d7

I Teach to the Test from Learning Session 5


https://s3.us-east-1.amazonaws.com/blackboard.learn.xythos.prod/5853020222825/711
142?response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%2A%3DUTF-8%27%27I%2520Teac
h%2520to%2520the%2520Test%25201.pdf&response-content-type=application%2Fpdf&X-Amz
-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&X-Amz-Date=20181214T220825Z&X-Amz-SignedHeaders=
host&X-Amz-Expires=21600&X-Amz-Credential=AKIAIL7WQYDOOHAZJGWQ%2F20181214%
2Fus-east-1%2Fs3%2Faws4_request&X-Amz-Signature=02807c451bc74724066b5d6dad6318f
a0d6aa0bfbd69958996a1f91bda6eec26
Montessori Article from Learning Session 2 -
https://s3.us-east-1.amazonaws.com/blackboard.learn.xythos.prod/5853020222825/133701?res
ponse-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%2A%3DUTF-8%27%27Montessori%2520Q
%2520and%2520A%2520Document.pdf&response-content-type=application%2Fpdf&X-Amz-Al
gorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&X-Amz-Date=20181214T220335Z&X-Amz-SignedHeaders=ho
st&X-Amz-Expires=21600&X-Amz-Credential=AKIAIL7WQYDOOHAZJGWQ%2F20181214%2F
us-east-1%2Fs3%2Faws4_request&X-Amz-Signature=6ecebb2acab45659b0333a5a062efa28c
473175e2228dbe6ad465337408f18a8