A Space for Personal and Academic Interests
The place where I will spend the majority of my day needs to be a comfortable place to work and a good place for my students to learn. As the teacher I am responsible for creating a space that reflects the learning goals of the workspace, the personality, interests, and age of the students who learn there and to create a space that is a comfortable and productive learning environment for all. If I should be given the opportunity to select the type of student desks I want, I will ask for flat top desks with separate chairs. This type of desk is the most versatile for clustering for small group work, placing in a horseshoe or circle for discussions, or arranging in rows for testing. No matter the furniture I have in my classroom, I want to be purposeful about arranging it to match the sort of student interaction I desire for that given day’s lesson. I need to ensure those students’ desks are arranged so that students can get in and out of their seats and retrieve their materials without bumping into each other or each other’s work. In addition, I must actually sit at each student location to see shat a student sees from that spot in the room, and remove any visual or auditory barriers or distracters from the key instructional areas of the room. I will need to arrange the furniture in the room to match desired student interaction. For example, when I want students to be engaged in a whole class discussion, students need to be where they can see each other, and the best arrangement for that type of interaction is a circle or horseshoe. When I want students to work in small groups, I need the desks to resemble a small table; and when the students are taking a test, the traditional arrangement of rows of desks is the desired arrangement. High-traffic areas near doors, the pencil sharpener, locations for turning in or obtaining materials, and the supply center need to be kept as clear of furniture as possible. If possible it would be nice to have a small table at which I could conduct small group instruction and also have private conferences with students concerning their work and behavior. Lastly, their size and the types of materials to be stored in each, all the while being mindful of safety issues regarding traffic patterns will dictate the placement of bookcases, storage cabinets, and file cabinets.
Possibly one of the most difficult tasks that teachers face is motivating their students to learn. Positive planning practices, not only for the first days of school, but also for every day throughout the year are a must for good classroom management. The teacher should focus first on the whole year and plan backwards. Planning for the first days with a picture of what you want your students to know and be able to do by the end of the year is essential (Burden, 2017). According to J. D. McCullough’s book, Kingdom Living in Your Classroom, there are a few students who are classified as intrinsically motivated learners because they possess a natural love of learning and knowledge (McCullough, 2008). These learners are every teacher’s dream because they crave knowledge and take responsibility for their education by pursuing information due to their interest in a specific topic. An intrinsically motivated student will enter the classroom with academic enthusiasm and find satisfaction in a job well done. These are the students who will retain the knowledge they learn over a much longer period of time because they have made the information relevant and meaningful. On the other hand, there are far too many students who are only extrinsically motivated and they arrive at the classroom under protest and behave as if they are being tortured rather than taught and challenge teachers to find a way to motivate them. The extrinsically motivated students are the ones who are unwilling to put forth any effort unless there is a promise of a reward or a threat of some type of punishment or consequence. When the teacher assigns a project or any other type of assignment, these are the students whose first question is, “Are you taking a grade on this?” These are also the students who seem to have low self-efficacy for performing most tasks because they do not feel capable and sometimes suffer from low self-esteem as well because they are convinced that they are some how inferior. The extrinsically motivated learner is often the student who only memorizes the material for an assessment and once the examination is passed the information is soon forgotten.
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There are several strategies that teachers can use to help cultivate intrinsic motivation in the classroom. In a student-focused classroom, the teacher and learners share control of behavior and the learning environment. Inquiry is promoted and divergent points of view are respected. The teacher models participatory evaluation through questioning and student-led discussions of results. The students value themselves as learners and welcome the active role they have in directing their education along the lines of their own interests. Some students may need to be encouraged by letting them know that their teacher believes they are capable of completing an assigned task, which should also help to cultivate their sense of self-worth. When students trust themselves to succeed at a task, they are more likely to challenge themselves in other situations. By encouraging students to compete against themselves by continually bettering their last test score or going to greater detail on a project, teachers are encouraging intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation can also be increased when students gain satisfaction from helping their peers.