Characteristics of an Effective Learning Environment
Adapted for use from The Characteristics of an Highly Effective Learning Environment 06/16/2014, Terry Heick,
1. Learners are valued as made in the image of God
Teachers believe that all their learners, like themselves, are made in the image of God and therefore not simply students but children to be nurtured, taught, corrected and encouraged with love.
2. The classroom is a safe place to learn
Effective learning can only take place where there is an atmosphere of love and grace.
- the learner feels enabled to explore, conceptualise and decide
- the learner can safely express opinions and be able to critically listen to, and critically evaluate their own and others offerings
- the learner can be mutually supportive of other classmates and feel supported by them in turn.
3. The students are able to ask “good” questions
This involves a climate of trust and a learning environment where all input is valued. Teaching is explicit and scaffolded for all students to be able to enter into the lesson. Curiosity and critical thinking are encouraged for real learning. Learning goals are intentional and clear.
4. Teachers are consistently refining their practice and their planning
Teachers do not accept the status quo, and do not think they are the only source of knowledge, but are committed to improvement through professional learning and exchange. They commit themselves to this learning to effectively engage their students in learning.
5. The classroom is a place of mutual respect and understanding
A characteristic of an effective classroom, is one of routine and a sense of unity. Rules and routines are discussed with students regularly, and students are taught that choices they make have consequences. Justice and mercy are part of everyday practice.
6. Classroom learning is supported and respected in the community
In an effective learning environment, learning is supported and valued by the community. Teachers support the role of the parent, as parents support the role of the teacher.
7. Assessment is reliable, authentic, transparent and fair
Assessment is never given for assessment’s sake. Assessment is important for learning, of learning and as learning. Classroom teachers use information from assessment and moderation to design class and year level intervention/extension. Through data analysis and consultation, programs for students requiring support are also designed.
8. Success is individualised and celebrated
Academic success is not the only success in the classroom. Teachers work with students to identify their skills and talents. Students are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning and their successes. Mistakes are seen as opportunities to learn – to reflect on practice (both teacher and student), rethink and renew criteria for success.
9. There are constant opportunities for practice and consolidation
There are opportunities to “relearn.” Complex ideas are reviewed from new angles. Divergent concepts are contrasted. Thinking skills are engaged in, to encourage deep thinking, and reflective practices. Every effort is made to maximize a student’s opportunities to learn and demonstrate understanding of content, including real life and “hands on” activities.
10. Negative thinking is challenged at every opportunity
Teachers believe in the formation and development of good mental and emotional health in the child’s formative years. This will, in turn, result in emotional resilience during their life. Emotional resilience greatly decreases the likelihood of emotional struggles. Students are encouraged to exceed their own expectations.