The ideal is to bring learning to life by offering connections to real life experience for students. Whether it be using drums to show the rhythm and rhyme of words to help students read or having them dance or move to music to show how their bodies relate to each other and the space around them. Experiential programs excite me for the tangible, real-life learning they bring. Nothing is more memorable than learning from experience. This method of integrated curriculum and project based learning can solve so many of the education and learning problems.
So what’s the down side? I understand that these programs can accomplish the goals for which I hope, but in reality, there are “things” to deal with before learning can happen. What are those “things?”
Students must come ready to learn. This is easier said than done. The parents need to be on board to support what is needed. Students need to be rested, well-fed, have a comfortable and safe environment, have taken any medications or are wearing glasses if necessary, and their work needs to be understood and encouraged. The parent must be the coach. Students must treat others with respect.
Life is stressful and complicated with single-parent families and the demands of work. Add to this, the need for adults to find themselves and do what they want to do, have “fun.” Is there time left for kids? It is a dichotomy of situations-parents who pay no attention to their children and parents who pay too much. My concern here is the ones who need to engage more with their children. Manners, respect and how to behave in a classroom with a person of authority needs to be taught. Education in all facets must be valued. Everything cannot be about me and that I must feel good at every moment. There must be challenge and discipline and most of all PROCESS. Learning is a process that happens over time. It is not click on it and there it is.
So what’s the point? If students do not understand how to behave and how to learn, they will not learn. The greatest, most integrated programs in the world won’t make a difference if you don’t start at the beginning. Learn how to be ready to learn. Involve and engage the parents in the process so they can help their children behave and partake in what is offered.
Behavior problems are more of a hindrance to learning than poor teachers. Bullying and negative behavior happens in every school at every socio-economic level. A lot of media attention has been given to bullying and even attention by school administrators. Much of this poor behavior and inability to learn stems from this lack of understanding expectations from the start. Kids see their parents bully or take advantage and so they do it too. How do you change that? Such a hard task. Reach out, model to kids and adults, teach kindness, caring and competing with yourself to be the best self you can be rather than trying to “one up” everyone else.
I don’t know the answer. I do know that a 20 minute presentation from a counselor once a month, no matter how well-done, is not going to make a dent in behavior expectations and bullying. What do you do? Student achievement is not going to improve very much no matter how many measurements you impose or how fabulous the state-of-the-art curriculum you teach if something is not done about the core issue. Students, with the support of their families and caretakers, must come to school ready to learn.
What exactly does that mean and how do you do it?