Michelle Brunton Theory Task One (Unit 5) – part 1 How would a teacher/tutor establish and maintain a safe and supportive learning environment for their learners? It is important to provide a safe and supportive learning environment so that all learners feel comfortable, relaxed and able to explore learning regardless of their previous experiences. For example if student behaviour is not managed, bullying, intimidation and discrimination can occur. There are a number of methods and approaches which could be used to achieve this. Establish ground rules
In order to create safe and supportive learning environments, it is important to agree rules and boundaries with learners. Gravells stated “Having ground rules gives a firm boundary for all learners to work within” (2008:8). Ground rules can be established in a number of ways. For example they can be dictated by the teacher/tutor or developed by the students through group exercises, designing posters to illustrate them. By establishing ground rules the learners will be more aware of what behaviour is expected of them, and therefore promotes respect between learners.
In turn, this will establish a positive, agreeable and respectful environment in which to learn. According to Petty, “experiments show that classrooms become much more orderly when rules are stated, or better still negotiated, discussed and fully justified. ” (2006:3) this is supported by Gravells who states that encouraging students to take part in making the ground rules, “allows the group to take ownership of their own rules, then they are more likely to keep to them” (2008:8) Build a strong classroom community
The classroom environment allows learners to build stronger and larger networks beyond their own community. In “Evidence based teaching” Petty states “Good teacher-student relations ensure that students have a more positive attitude to the teacher and to learning, and make them more likely to accept rules and any disciplining. ” (2006:6) The teacher/tutor can use a number of approaches to facilitate a strong classroom community such as Ice breakers, which provide students with an opportunity to share information about their backgrounds and cultures, exploring the diversity they bring to the classroom.
Encouraging students to work in pairs or small groups is another way to encourage students to work with people they would not usually interact with. By building networks in the classroom, students can create supportive relationships with both peers and teachers. Valuing student diversity The classroom should provide students with an environment that is conducive to learning. Valuing diversity within the classroom encourages learners to recognise and respect the fact that people are different. Their differences could include age, cultural background, literacy and numeracy levels and learning styles.
Gravells’ definition of diversity is “valuing the differences in people, whether that relates to gender, race, age, disability or any other individual characteristics they may have”. (2008:18) If a student feels uncomfortable, unsafe, or not respected, then their chances of success in that class could dramatically decrease. Evidence suggests that to establish and maintain a safe and supportive learning environment it is essential to have agreed ground rules and boundaries in place, a strong classroom community which is co-operative and supportive and a strong value for diversity within the classroom.
The Teacher should create an environment which outlines clear and reasonable expectations for behaviour, has a relaxed atmosphere and where social and cultural differences are respected and cultivated as resources for learning. Word count (533) Petty G. (2004) Teaching Today 3rd Edition, Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes Petty, G. (2006) Evidence Based Teaching: a practical approach. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes Free additional chapter for ‘Evidence Based Teaching’ by Geoff Petty (2006) Nelson Thornes. www. geoffpetty. com. Gravells, A. (2008) Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector. Exetor: Learning Matters.