The best learning environments honor the important connection between head, hand, and heart. I have made a list of what that means and what it might look like in a dynamic classroom where those three needs are honored and met. Here, then, is how a nurturing classroom recognizes that we are all unique learners:
- A thriving classroom “meets students where they are,” which means not all students should be working on the same task or at the same pace. Some students will be working independently, while others will work with partners or in small groups supported by the teacher or a student leader.
- Learning is collaborative, not competitive. Teachers make sure that students have time to think and voice their ideas without being interrupted. Classmates learn how to listen when other children are talking.
- Teachers take packaged curriculum and revise lessons to make learning meaningful and accessible to every student. If a child is not developmentally ready to tackle an assignment, the teacher will pre-teach the lesson or send the lesson home for pre-teaching. Expectations will be modified.
- Teachers diverge from prepared lessons to address student questions and follow paths of inquiry that are interesting to students. Teachers make room for students to pursue their passions.
- If students don’t understand a lesson, teachers re-teach the lesson in a different way.
- If there is homework, it should be necessary, reasonable (no more than 10 minutes added on for each grade level) and modified to make every student feel successful.
- Required textbooks are supplemented with interesting, age appropriate, up-to-date resources from a variety of media.
- Teachers are always looking for ways to integrate learning across the curriculum.
- Teachers employ a variety of methods to assess whether a student understands new material.