EDU 6526: Learner-Centered Approaches

As a future teacher, it is important for me to reflect on student personalities and emotions and how they can affect my instruction. I think what initially drew me to consider being a teacher was my desire to help all students with their personal and emotional struggles. I am a very nurturing person and building trust with my students is one of my top priorities. Sometimes a teacher is one of the main people a student can trust, especially when their home life is stressful or when they have few friends or peers to turn to for help. Carl Rogers proposed that there are six priorities for affective education:

1) Establishing a climate of trust
2) A participatory mode of decision-making
3) Uncovering the excitement of discovery learning
4) Teachers acting as facilitators of learning
5) Helping teachers to grow as persons
6) Promoting an awareness that the good life is within each of us

Carl Rogers believed that students were at the center and that learning happened when students found the information relevant to their own lives. Student personalities dictate how a student perceives information or experiences. According to Joyce, Weil, and Calhoun (2015), Carl Rogers believed that “positive human relationships enable people to grow, and therefore instruction should be based on concepts of human relations in contrast to concepts of subject matter” (p.285). In the nondirective model of teaching, the teacher plays the role of facilitator and the student is given authority to express their feelings and emotions without fear of being judged by the teacher. This builds a sense of compassion, empathy, trust, and respect between the teacher and student. I think when a student feels free to express themselves without the fear of being punished or judged, they can truly take responsibility for defining their problems and planning ways to correct and learn from them.

Related to these ideas is Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence (MI) theory. Gardner suggests there are eight intelligences everyone possesses to a differing degree: verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist. This short video briefly describes each intelligence and provides a few examples for how to cultivate them in the classroom.

As an introverted person, I can certainly understand how personality and different intelligences can affect how one learns in the classroom. I am strong in intrapersonal intelligence and logical-mathematical intelligence, therefore I tended to work on my own and kept to myself for the most part. I also liked concrete answers and logical tasks, especially in math. But not all my students will be like me. How exactly can I take into account these differing learning styles and modify my instruction as a future elementary teacher? According to Howard Gardner (2009), “When child are young, we should encourage well roundedness. As they grow older, it becomes more important to discover and cultivate areas of strength. Livelihood and happiness are more likely to emerge under those circumstances.”

I need to understand that students have varying levels of all types of intelligences and that I may need to differentiate my instruction or homework assignments to accommodate for those differences. I believe that teaching in a variety of ways is the best solution to reaching the most students possible. That doesn’t mean I need to change up my teaching every hour of every days, but perhaps over the course of a semester I could incorporate music, exercise, nature, and personal activities into my lessons to encourage different intelligences. That way I can see what works for each student and learn to distinguish different intellectual strengths and styles on the fly (Gardner, 2009).

References:

Gardner, H. & Edwards, O. (2009). “An Interview with Howard Gardner, Father of Multiple Intelligence.”

Joyce, B., Weil M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching. 9th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

McKnight, H. (2011). Multiple Intelligences [Video file]. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/cf6lqfNTmaM

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