You know when you experience ideal learning environments simply by looking around you. Learning is collaborative and harmonious, and the work is challenging in a way that sparks interest and excitement. As a result, teachers and students are happy and focused. As you observe ideal learning environments, you realize that everything just works.
Terry Heick from TeachThought understands what ideal learning environments need to thrive. In fact, he talks all about them at length in the article The Characteristics Of A Highly Effective Learning Environment. We've decided to summarize them below because they're too good not to share. However, if you want to read more about them, just click on the infographic.
10 Things That Define Ideal Learning Environments
- The students ask more question than the teachers. Students get curious when they are engaged and excited about learning. From there, meaningful questions happen naturally.
- Questions are valued over answers. Not just any questions either—these are the essential questions that spark real learning.
- Ideas come from divergent sources. "Consider sources like professional and cultural mentors, the community, content experts outside of education, and even the students themselves," Terry advises.
- A variety of learning models are used. Every student is unique and talented in the modern classroom. That's why teachers in ideal learning environments cater to multiple learning styles and preferences.
- Classroom learning "empties" into a connected community. Real learning starts and extends beyond the classroom. As such, learning is tailored to the world beyond school to ensure students' success. As Terry says, learning "has to leave the classroom because they do."
- Learning is personalized by a variety of criteria. This includes curriculum, pedagogy, and the learning environment itself. It also incorporates the endless possibilities in front of us every day for creating teachable moments.
- Assessment is persistent, authentic, transparent, and never punitive. Ultimately, the best assessment we can use with our students is formative assessment.
- Criteria for success is balanced and transparent. We must involve students in the development, application and reporting of assessment as much as possible.
- Learning habits are constantly modelled. In other words, monkey see, monkey do.
- There are constant opportunities for practice. Getting feedback and not having the opportunity to act on it is limiting and counter-productive. Students must have the opportunities to utilize what the feedback we give is meant to teach them.