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Students and Teachers Making the Difference in a Learning Environment

By Yordanka Brunet Valle School: International School of Havana, Cuba Email addresses: yordanka@ish.co.cu / yordankabv820218@gmail.com

In a teaching and learning environment, it is often clear what the content of the lesson is and its goal, however, generally it is less clear how to motivate students to succeed during the lesson. Some people may believe it is a matter of only using a variety of great resources available to assist the teachers or the fact of choosing the best teaching approach. My experience as a teacher shows that when the students feel that they are having success during the lesson, they could actually make the difference in their learning, and this crucial element can be effectively used to enhance life-long learning. Teachers have many roles within the classroom. We facilitate learning allowing our students to construct their own knowledge; we develop our students’ creativity; stimulate their curiosity; celebrate their individualities and achievements but at the same time it is important to inspire them in order to learn and be successful.

The International School of Havana is a great example of a school where students and teachers learn from each other and support each other in order to become successful learners. Through a variety of workshops, session meetings and courses, teachers think and reflect on the teaching- learning process and how we could motivate our students more to actively participate and learn. The school provides excellent professional opportunities for teachers to improve and maximize the skills of learning in all the students. Looking for Learning, for example, is a wonderful experience that favours the acquisition of knowledge and enriches teaching experience through discussions based on the feedback provided from the observer teacher.

In our school, we start by assuming that each child is different and everyone can learn. By observing our students in the classroom, teachers are more aware of their individual learning styles, needs and the way they could successfully acquire the knowledge.  From my experience, I have identified some steps that can help teachers to motivate students to succeed during the lesson:

  1. Developing a variety of activities that stimulate all learners to actively participate

  2. Constantly checking for student understanding

  3. Listening to the students ideas and feedback

  4. Taking into consideration students’ feedback about their own learning

  5. Planning a group of tasks that can address everyone’s needs and styles.

  6. Looking at the students’ faces in order to gauge their emotions. One of the most powerful emotions influencing learning is fear, specifically the fear of failure.

  7. Giving plenty of opportunities within the lesson, where the students can interact with the teachers and each other.

  8. When designing a Unit plan, providing a balance among the tasks, so the students can learn by making experiments, solving problems, reading, writing stories, making role plays, and building things, among other tasks.

  9. Providing an enjoyable and safe atmosphere in the classroom.

In our Kindergarten classroom for example, we are designing activities that can improve learning behaviors in the students like respect or organization. Generally we have noticed that it is difficult for the students to communicate any problem and solve it by themselves. Therefore, we decided to include some Role Plays during Language Arts periods to allow the students to improve their communication skills and to enhance their confidence and respect, not only for themselves but for everyone. It has been rewarding listening to our young learners inside and outside the classroom using phrases like ¨Excuse me¨, ¨Sorry¨, ¨Can we play together? ¨ or ¨Can we share this book? ¨.

The ISH community is continually working to make a difference in the lives of our students and to help them acquire the knowledge and skills to succeed.

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