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Creating An Environment For Learning

This essay examines and discusses various issues surrounding the school environment for learning. By definition, learning is ‘to acquire knowledge by study, instruction, or experience’ (Ostler, The Little Oxford Dictionary, p305). It has been assumed that ‘the surroundings in which children learn can greatly influence their academic performance and well-being in school’[1]. Therefore, the learning environment refers to not only space and how it is arranged and furnished, but also the people who are present within it, and how they promote and achieve learning by others. Due to the scope of this essay, it is not possible to mention all the issues surrounding the learning environment. I will focus on the organisation of the classroom, and the teaching and learning strategies implemented within it.

The organisation of the classroom plays a vital role in shaping the learning environment, yet the importance of this particular aspect of school life can often be overlooked. Firstly, the configurations of space and seating can influence different types of learning. For example, a teacher may choose to arrange the tables/desks in rows facing the board, rather than in small groups, depending on the type of learning appropriate for the task. Pupils sitting in rows would encourage individual/paired learning and children sitting in small groups would promote group learning, often by discussion. Another method of seating is to arrange the seats into a horseshoe arrangement without any tables/desks. This configuration would facilitate whole-class discussion, presentations and individual commentary. All three methods of seating influence different types of learning, however, it is not practical to change the arrangement for every individual lesson.

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Teachers must decide upon which method is most suitable for their teaching style and learning environment. Examples of the different seating arrangements are below: Secondly, the décor of the classroom is vital in motivating children to learn. Indeed it takes more than brightly coloured walls to ensure a class is achieving their maximum potential, but whatever a child’s academic ability, ‘pleasing surroundings will definitely lead to better attendance, improved concentration, and a healthy dose of motivation and self-esteem[2]. It is also important that the teacher works in a pleasant environment, adaptable to their daily professional needs. Leicester Grammar School regularly repaints the classroom walls and school corridors so that they look welcoming to pupils and staff. According to Mr Sugden, Headmaster, ‘ensuring that every room is well lit and colour co-coordinated improves students learning, especially those with behavioural and visual difficulties’.

Thirdly, the information displayed on the walls is important when trying to motivate children to learn. Lesson objectives are always written on the board at the beginning of the lesson by the teacher so that the pupils understand the aims of the lesson. South Wolds Community School also display the level descriptors on a notice board to ensure that all pupils can identify which level they are working at, and what they must do to reach the next level. This promotes an active learning environment; teachers have high expectations for the pupils to achieve desirable levels and set individual targets accordingly. South Wolds also displays a teacher/pupil contract which includes all the rules of the classroom, penalties for not adhering to them and the overall learning aim for the class. This ensures that the classroom code of conduct is understood by all, and it promotes good behaviour that supports learning.

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Finally, school classrooms always display pupils work as a means of raising expectations and praising good pieces. Younger pupils often read selections of work completed by older members; this motivates them to work harder and they aspire to eventually be as knowledgeable as their seniors. Additionally, secondary schools often request classwork from Year 6 pupils, who will be transferring at the end of the year. They display this work in their form rooms, providing an instant welcome to the new pupils on their first day[3]. This helps them to feel more settled in their new environment and motivates them to produce continual good work for the display board. Classroom displays not only praise children for their good pieces of work but also ‘brighten up’ and personalise the room for the pupils. This ensures that a positive learning environment is maintained.

Teachers use many different teaching and learning strategies in order to promote pupil learning, for example, personalised learning. Personalisation underlies the Five Year Strategy for Children and Learners (DfES, 2004). It is ‘about tailoring education to individual need, interest and aptitude so as to ensure that every pupil achieves and reaches the highest standards possible, notwithstanding their background or circumstances, and right across the spectrum of achievement’[4]. Personalisation is can help to transform the experience of disadvantaged children, as suggested in ‘Every Child Matters ’ (DfES, 2003). It also builds on the success of the Secondary National Strategy which ‘helps teachers give careful attention to pupils’ individual learning needs, set challenging targets for them linked to high-quality assessment, and offer tools to teachers to make the lessons pacy, challenging and enjoyable. It encourages regular attendance and positive behaviour for learning, and its aim is that every young person will achieve their full potential (DfES, 2005). Personalised learning helps to create a positive learning environment where pupils can achieve their full potential.

There are five key components that help to extend this personalisation of education. Firstly, the assessment for learning, which means using evidence and dialogue to identify where pupils are in their learning, where they need to go and how best to get their[5]. Teachers must inspire individual attainment by giving clear feedback regarding how pupils can improve and the best methods of doing so, and they must plan for learning in each lesson. If learning is accomplished in each individual lesson, a positive learning environment is created. Secondly, effective teaching and learning, which means developing the competence and confidence of every learner by actively engaging and stretching them[6]. Pupils undergo tests that identify their preferred learning styles, which are visual, auditory or kinaesthetic.

Teachers must plan lessons that combine all three learning styles and use a combination of whole class, group and individual teaching, learning and ICT strategies to accommodate different learning styles. This allows pupils to focus on their preferred learning style and use it to forward their own individual learning. The aim is to enable pupils to understand themselves better as learners and so take greater control of and responsibility for their learning. Allowing pupils to take responsibility for their own learning develops an effective learning environment, as both the teacher and pupils are interested in achieving their maximum potential.

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Thirdly, offering a flexible curriculum. This includes a guaranteed core curriculum, and the opportunity to enrich learning outside this curriculum. The core curriculum ‘provides all children with the opportunity to learn the skills and understanding required to continue throughout their lives ’[7]. In addition to this, there should be sufficiently high-quality opportunities to extend the learning experiences with additional activities, for example, a class is studying salsa music could invite a professional salsa musician to perform to them. A flexible curriculum ensures that learning can be personalised in such a way that it appeals to all individual pupils, helping to maintain a learning environment.

Fourthly, organising a student-centred approach to school organisation for personalised learning, with school leaders and teachers thinking creatively about how to support high-quality teaching and learning, and to ensure that pupil performance and pupil welfare are mutually supportive[8]. Creating these learning conditions involves teacher planning, preparation and assessment; the use of ICT; creating a consistent policy on positive behaviour for learning to create an environment in which all students feel safe and secure. This can be enhanced by, for example, pupil involvement; pupils contribute to whole-school life and to the work of the school. St. Thomas More School run class councils, and a regular rotation of children representing their classes on the school council ensures that all children feel included in the running of the school.

They discuss such as ‘values and respect diversity ’ which is then explored through world appreciation days, for example, India day. If a school is organised for personalised learning, the culture of the school will reflect a positive learning environment. Building strong partnerships beyond the school is the final component of personalised learning. This aims to drive forward progress in the classroom, remove barriers for learning and support pupil well-being. Schools are encouraged to build partnerships with the local community and with pupil’s home lives, and to provide after-school help and extended learning activities. These ensure that children progress to their full potential and that a learning environment is created within the school and the local community.

In conclusion, creating a positive environment for learning is a combination of various techniques, including the organisation of the classroom and the teaching and learning strategies implemented within it. The choice of seating arrangement can facilitate particular learning activities and as a result, a teacher must decide upon which method is most suitable for their teaching style and learning environment. The décor of a classroom can improve students learning, especially those with behavioural and visual difficulties. Well, lit and colour-coordinated classrooms ensure effective pupil learning. The information displayed on the walls can motivate children to learn. For example, level descriptors and teacher/pupil charters ensure that there are high expectations for the pupils and that there is a classroom code of conduct, supporting positive behaviour for learning.

By displaying pupils work on the walls, not only gives younger children aspiration but also personalises the room to ensure a positive working and learning environment is achieved. Teaching and learning strategies such as personalised learning, encourage regular attendance, positive behaviour for learning, and allow every pupil to achieve their full potential. Assessment for learning ensures that every individual lesson is planned for learning and that each child knows how to improve their work. Effective teaching and learning actively engages and stretches pupils by using a combination of whole-class, group and individual teaching.

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It also encourages pupils to take responsibility for their own learning. A flexible curriculum extends the learning experience with additional activities so that learning can be personalised to appeal to each individual pupil. Organising a school for personalised learning encourages positive behaviour for learning and creates an environment in which all pupils feel safe and secure, and included within the school. Building strong partnerships with the local community influences learning outside school and can offer pupils more support. Therefore, creating a positive learning environment is extremely important as it influences academic performance and well-being in school.

Bibliography

  • DfES (2003) Every Child Matters (London: DfES Publications).
  • DfES (2004) Five Year Strategy for Children and Learners (London: DfES Publications).
  • DfES (2005) Secondary National Strategy for School Improvement 2005-06 (London: DfES Publications).
  • DfES (2005) Primary National Strategy: Supporting Positive Behaviour and the Learning Environment (London: DfES Publications).
  • Hustler, D., Milroy, E. & Cockett, M. (1991) Learning Environments for the Whole Curriculum (London: Unwin Hyman Ltd).
  • Ostler, G. (1969) The Little Oxford Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

Websites

  • Assessment for Learning. 2006. [online]. [Accessed 25/10/2006]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/personalisedlearning/five/afl>
  • Creating a Learning Environment for the 21st century. 2006. [online]. [Accessed 22/10/2006]. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/teachingandlearning/library/learningenvironment/>
  • Effective Teaching and Learning. 2006. [online]. [Accessed 25/10/2006]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/personalisedlearning/five/teachinglearning>
  • Flexible Curriculum. 2006. [online]. [Accessed 25/10/2006]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/personalisedlearning/five/curriculum>
  • Organising the School for Personalised Learning. [online]. [Accessed 25/10/2006]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/personalisedlearning/five/organisingschool>
  • Personalised Learning. 2006. [online]. [Accessed 25/10/2006]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/personalisedlearning/about>
  • Personalised Learning. 2004 [online]. [Accessed 25/10/2006]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.tlrp.org/documents/ESRCPerson.pdf>
  • Shifting Gears. 2003. [online]. [Accessed 21/10/06]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/teacher/issue26/secondary/features/Shiftinggears_Secondary>
  • Creating a Learning Environment for the 21st century. 2006. [online]. [Accessed 22/10/2006]. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/teachingandlearning/library/learningenvironment/>
  • Creating a Learning Environment for the 21st century. 2006. [online]. [Accessed 22/10/2006]. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/teachingandlearning/library/learningenvironment/>
  • Shifting Gears. 2003. [online]. [Accessed 21/10/06]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/teacher/issue26/secondary/features/Shiftinggears_Secondary>
  • Personalised Learning. 2006. [online]. [Accessed 25/10/2006]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/personalisedlearning/about>
  • Assessment for Learning. 2006. [online]. [Accessed 25/10/2006]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/personalisedlearning/five/afl>
  • Effective Teaching and Learning. 2006. [online]. [Accessed 25/10/2006]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/personalisedlearning/five/teachinglearning>
  • A Flexible Curriculum. 2006. [online]. [Accessed 25/10/2006]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/personalisedlearning/five/curriculum>
  • Organising the School for Personalised Learning. [online]. [Accessed 25/10/2006]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/personalisedlearning/five/organisingschool>

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Creating An Environment For Learning. (2021, Apr 17). Retrieved December 7, 2021, from https://essayscollector.com/essays/creating-an-environment-for-learning/