Teacher: ‘Next year my classroom will be different’

Jul 8, 2011 by

Shelley Wright

My first confession is that I didn’t know I was a constructivist. Once I realized this, it’s become easier to make intentional decisions about my classroom.

So what is a constructivist? Adherents of constructivism essentially believe that children learn by being actively engaged in and reflecting on their experiences, children learn through social interaction with others, they have different ways and modes of learning, and they develop higher-order thinking through guidance at critical points in the learning process. Of course, this is a simplified view of it; entire books have been written on constructivist classrooms. But for my purpose, what’s most important is the view that learning is an active, participatory venture.

So what does this have to do with my classroom? Well, it forms the theoretical foundation for all that I do. There’s much talk today about the condition of education. Many are concerned but not always for the right reasons. Test scores often don’t tell us much about the state of our children’s education because commonly they aren’t measuring the right things. Brooks & Brooks (1993) lamented:

“Many students struggle to understand



concepts in isolation, to learn parts without seeing wholes, to make connections where they see only disparity, and to accept as reality what their perceptions question. For a good many students, success in school has very little to do with true understanding, and much to do with coverage of the curriculum. In many schools, the curriculum is held as absolute, and teachers are reticent to tamper with it even when students are clearly not understanding important concepts. Rather than adapting curriculum to students’ needs, the predominant institutional response is to view those who have difficulty understanding the unaltered curriculum as slow or disabled.”

via Teacher: ‘Next year my classroom will be different’ – The Answer Sheet – The Washington Post.

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