SMART Chapters 1-2 and HOW PEOPLE LEARN Chapter 6

Considering the readings from the first two chapters of SMART, the essential question of “Who do we teach?” can be simply answered by stating that we teach adolescents and adolescents making the transition into adulthood.  By stating this, however, there are obvious complexities that come with adolescence.  It is a phase in a student’s life, in which they experience seemingly rapid physical, hormonal, and emotional changes more than any other phase in life — other than during infancy.  Therefore, understanding the implications that arise from the natural process of adolescence we can determine that each student experiences adolescence in their own unique process and as a result, have behaviors and mannerisms that are different from any of their peers.  As effective teachers we must also understand the pressures that our students are faced with on either a social level or at home; in other words, behaviors and tendencies of our students can be shaped by outside influences.  As teachers it is our responsibility then to provide a classroom setting that allows students to feel ‘security, affirmation, affiliation, affinity, high expectations, support, opportunity, power, and purpose.’

Similar to our first question, “Where do we teach?” can answered as simply as ‘in a classroom setting.’  Reading chapter 6 of How People Learn demonstrates to the reader that while where we teach is a constant, the classroom setting itself is multifaceted in a sense.  Understanding who we teach as a teacher leads one to be able to understand what kind of environment needs to be established in the classroom.  This chapter explains to the reader that there are four basic environments that are fostered in the classroom: student-centered, knowledge-centered, assessment-centered, and community-centered.  The issue, however, with implementing these environments is that each naturally has their advantages and disadvantages.  Effective teachers are able to tailor the needs of their students and apply a blend of these environments.  There are times when the focus must be on the student and building upon their prior knowledge and experiences in order to be able to get the student to comprehend the curriculum.  There are also times however, when the students require feedback on their assignments or participation in discussions so they are able to grow (i.e. assessment-centered), and there are times when it is crucial for students to feel they have support-centers or feel they belong (i.e. community-centered).