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How Does Your Child’s Classroom Rate?

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Are your kids off to learn in an ideal classroom?

I’m often asked what I think an ideal classroom would look like.  So, here it goes.

THE TEACHER

  • The teacher is aware of her own brain profile and does not require students’ brain organization to “fit” hers.
  • The teacher views kids who do not naturally match her expectations and teaching style as gifts who will help her grow professionally.
  • The teacher honors all students by creating specific opportunities for every student to shine, as well as ways to challenge students to go a little beyond their comfort zone.

THE STUDENTS

  • Students in an ideal classroom draw a blank if asked who’s the smartest or who gets in trouble the most, and so on.
  • Students honor each other, recognizing that they all have strengths, as well as areas to improve.
  • Students work together to solve problems and find common ground.
  • Students know how to find their “edge” so that challenges provide continuous opportunities to wrap the most myelin.
  • Students help their brain stay alert and focus by knowing how to self-regulate themselves via different sensory input.

LESSONS

  • Lessons are created and presented in ways that parallel how the brain learns naturally.
  • Lessons are rich in sensory stimuli to increase the probability that information actually registers in the brain (we can’t recall something if it was never processed in the first place).
  • Vestibular and proprioceptive stimuli—from having students spin or rock or jump to allowing them to chew gum or squeeze stress balls–are regularly infused within lessons to help students stay alert and remain in their cortex.
  • Lessons provide endless ways for students to move and stay engaged.
  • There is always a connection between what’s being learned and how that knowledge will enhance students’ lives at this point in time.
  • It is impossible to fail; mistakes are merely viewed as opportunities to wrap more myelin.
  • The act of thinking is valued more than getting answers right.
  • Critical and creative thinking and problem solving are emphasized (rather than memorizing facts).
  • Technology is included, but only as a way to provide multimedia stimuli and to enhance other lesson goals.
  • Learning is always joyful. 

ASSESSMENT

  • Students choose from a variety of mediums to share what they’ve learned.
  • Assessments are part of daily lessons, yet students don’t even know they’re being assessed.
  • Assessments are viewed merely as feedback to know whether information was processed or whether it still needs to be presented in yet a new, different way.

THE ROOM ENVIRONMENT

  • The students sit in a way that encourages, rather than discourages interaction.
  • Student work (rather than purchased charts, etc.) cover bulletin boards and walls.
  • Student work on the walls is not perfect; rather, it reflects improvement and progress.
  • There are “safe places” around the room where there’s no extra “stuff” on the ledges or hanging from the ceiling (which is greatly appreciated by kids who get overstimulated).
  • There are sensory zones (with vestibular, proprioceptive, and tactile stimuli) for students to “refuel,” as needed, throughout the day.

Here are a few simple ways to know if your child is learning in an ideal educational environment:

  • He’s excited when he comes home from school, and he tells you what he’s learning without being asked.
  • He wants to expand his knowledge beyond what he’s learning in the classroom—and does so on his own initiative.
  • He wants to go to school–even when he’s sick.

Okay, so maybe you’re thinking that ideal classroom is not really feasible or within your child’s reach.  Well, if you believe that, then you’re probably right.

But look at that list. The overwhelming majority of those ideas don’t require spending a dime or passing any legislation.

That’s because the ideal classroom simply begins with the mindset of  . . . why not? Why not desire that kind of environment for our kids? Why not explore whether one or two or three or more of those ideas are already happening in a classroom in our school? Why not expect to send our kids to a learning environment where they thrive and truly discover the joy of learning?

 

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