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My philosophy on learning is based on the foundational belief that all individuals can

learn. I believe that I can be the facilitator that guides the students through experiences that

allow opportunities to construct knowledge and practice necessary skills. Ratey summarized in

that recent neuroscience research indicates that dendrites of human brain cells only grow when

the brain is actively engaged and the neuron-networks formed in the brain only stay connected

when they are used repeatedly (Ratey, 2002). This fact guides my instructional practices and my

pedagogical shift towards learner-centered practices. Learner-centered instruction presents

activities to students that require them to take a more active role in their own learning through

self-teaching, collaboration with others, reflective practice, and problem-solving (Doyle, 2008).

Learner-centered instructions allows for all students to learn because it is not a one-size-fits-all

practice. To ensure that my teaching philosophy can be supported the following needs to be in

place: a safe learning environment, differentiated instruction and a collaborative classroom.

Supportive Learning Environment

A safe environment that supports academic risk-taking is crucial and must first be

established. Each classroom consists of diverse learners that bring a mlange of interests,

experiences, family circumstances, support systems, degrees of maturity and confidence

(Tomlinson, 2015). These differences can be a barrier to learning if a positive and supportive

classroom environment is not established and maintained. Students need to feel comfortable to

take a risk and make a mistakes in front of their peers and teachers. When the student(s)

attempts to construct and transfer knowledge and not simply wait for the answer, then successes

and improvements can be identified and utilized to improve the learning process. I want students

to be acceptable with not arriving at the correct answer the first time as well as continue to try

and reach a solution. It is important to not only experience the struggle that exists with learning
new knowledge and skills but understand how to develop strategies that help one persevere. To

achieve this each class period will develop expectations and norms collaboratively at the

beginning of the school year. Involving the students in the development of the norms and

expectations also demonstrated that their individual differences are valued and respected

(Owens, 2016). The goal is to establish a safe environment where students engage in risk-taking

and learning. Students will also develop personal learning goals that will be regularly assessed

along with timely constructive feedback provided by the teacher. It is important for students to

understand that learning is more than test scores and selecting the correct response. Learning

happens all the time, but one has to be able to understand how they learn effectively to become a

self-regulated learner. A safe environment is necessary for this to happen as well as achieve next

two goals: differentiated instruction and collaborative classroom.

Differentiate Instruction

Learning is a concerted pursuit to acquire and productively apply new knowledge and

skills (Owens, 2016). Each learner deserves the opportunity to construct knowledge. The types

and amount of experiences that contribute the learners prior knowledge, many or very little,

should not be a barrier to the students right to learn. Each learner has different styles of learning

and different capacities for learning that is impacted by prior experiences. It is necessary to

utilize formative assessments to ensure that appropriate curriculum and activities are selected for

all learners in the classroom. Formative assessments can be used prior to planning instruction

and during instruction. Information collected can be used to guide and differentiate instruction to

ensure all students have the opportunity to construct knowledge. Formative assessments can

help with selecting resources to differentiate and provide necessary scaffolds for all levels of

learning. Technology integration will also support differentiated instruction. Technology can
provide support for student learning in four major dimensions: active engagement,

collaborative learning, real world contexts and frequent and immediate feedback (Roschell,

Abrahamson and Penuel, 2004p. 253). Technology based formative assessments can be used to

inform instruction and quickly identify trends or patterns in the data to determine how to best

adjust instruction to support students. In addition, students can work at their pace and the teacher

can support students as needed, provide scaffolds or even small group instruction while other

students continue to work and construct knowledge.

Collaborative Classroom

Students need to have regular opportunities to participate in structured, collaborative

activities to engage in learning content and skills. In a collaborative classroom, the educator

facilitates learning by providing curriculum that builds upon prior knowledge, personal

experiences and culture that students bring to the learning environment (Owens, 2016). A

collaborative classroom is learner-centered and requires students to work together to construct

the essential background knowledge that is necessary for transferring of new knowledge.

Technology also supports a collaborative classroom and can provide the students and teacher the

opportunity to collaborate in a virtual environment with individuals from different cultures and

perspectives outside of the classroom. This is a necessary skill to be successful in the 21st

century. Students need to be able to collaborate with different people, provide constructive

feedback as well as be able to receive feedback and understand how different perspectives shape

individuals thoughts and actions. A collaborative classroom with meaningful, authentic

technology integration is an important goal because this method of instruction puts less emphasis

on rote memorization and requires students to grow their cognitive abilities such as critical

thinking, problem solving, communication.


Conclusion

As an educator with the philosophy that all individuals can learn, my goal is to provide an

environment that fosters life-long learners that are willing to take academic risks. With patience,

honesty, flexibility and passion, one can facilitate learning with all learners at all levels of

learning. Utilizing formative assessments to differentiate learning and using structured,

collaboration for application of knowledge will provide real-world, relevant opportunities for

students to learn. Technology will be used to support the implementation of these goals as well

as integration of 21st century skill development to ensure all students have an equal chance of

being successful, productive members of society.


References

Doyle, T. (2008). Helping students learn in a learner-centered environment: A guide to

facilitating learning in higher education. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Owens, G., Ed.D. (2016). Community of learners module 1: Learner-centered principles. Lecture

presented at American College of Education.

Owens, G., Ed.D. (2016). Community of learners module 2: Integrated curriculum. Lecture

presented at American College of Education.

Owens, G., Ed.D. (2016). Community of learners module 3: Collaborative learning. Lecture

presented at American College of Education.

Ratey, J. (2002). A users guide to the brain. New York, NY: Pantheon Books.

Roschelle J, Abrahamson L, Penuel W (2004) Integrating classroom network technology and

learning theory to improve classroom science learning: a literature synthesis. Paper

presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San

Diego, CA

Tomlinson, C. (2015). Teaching for excellence in academically diverse

classrooms. Society, 52(3), 203-209. doi:10.1007/s12115-015-9888-0