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With reference to your experience in the classroom, discuss those factors that you consider to be most important in providing an effective learning environment informed by your knowledge of contrasting theories of learning.

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Introduction

With reference to your experience in the classroom, discuss those factors that you consider to be most important in providing an effective learning environment informed by your knowledge of contrasting theories of learning. Classroom practise has come a long way since the traditional teaching strategies criticised in the Plowden Report (1967). We rarely see excessively formal classrooms and the general aim has been to move towards a more action-orientated and child-centred approach, as championed by the Plowden Report. The current intention is for the learning environment to be humane, focused, structured and stimulating; a place the child enjoys being. This essay will consider what is required for both teaching and learning to be effective and worthwhile. The class teacher is by far the most important individual in the classroom; it is their behaviour and characteristics, which influence the general ethos of the whole class and the behaviour and attitudes displayed by the children. The effect of the teacher can be easily observed by the different behaviours the children display when another teacher is in charge. During my time in the classroom I had the opportunity to observe the class being taught by a supply teacher. From the onset the supply firmly laid down her expectations and boundaries and there was a noticeable difference in the behaviours the children displayed. Although I would not say that one teacher's style was better than another, it was clear that by emphasising different values and behaviours the children acted differently. ...read more.

Middle

I feel that it is important that the seating area is a flexible environment, which can be altered depending upon the type of work being completed and the general ethos of the classroom. If the tables are arranged in groups, there is then the decision of how the children should be grouped. Should the children be grouped by ability or mixed-ability? Vygotsky suggested that it is through engaging in mutual activities with more expert peers that the child becomes more knowledgeable (Smith et al, 1999). Vygotsky's work focused upon 'The Zone of Proximal Development' (ZPD), which provides an explanation as to how children learn with the help of more knowledgeable peers. Vygotsky stated that the ZPD was the distance between the child's actual developmental level and their potential developmental level under the guidance of more knowledgeable peers. The main belief of Vygotsky's theory was that with 'expert intervention' the child can be challenged, and with support from such 'expert' peers achieve a higher developmental level. Vygotsky emphasised that by working with another person who is more knowledgeable, the child not only gains new information but also confirms what they already know and understand (Wood, 1988, cited in Smith et al 1999). I am of the opinion that the idea children should work in mixed ability groups is not always a viable option. ...read more.

Conclusion

I conclusion I feel that to be an effective teacher and to create an effective learning environment it is important to encompass a number factors, all of which are equally important. As I have mentioned previously the teacher has a strong influence over their pupils, if they are enthusiastic and encouraging, the children are more likely to be motivated to learn and it is their role to ensure lessons run smoothly and with a well maintained momentum. The effective teacher should also be able to take on board a range of ideas from the different learning theories and adapt them to best suit the class they are teaching, it is important for the teacher to be flexible at all times when teaching and understand, different children have different needs and requirements. With regards to the learning environment it should have a positive effective on all who enter it. Colourful displays will not only improve the general feel of the classroom but they will also aid learning, especially if there is some interactive aspect to the display. As mentioned previously the seating of children is dependent upon the class itself and the lessons being taught, it should not be a rigid format. If the teacher takes on board what has been mentioned in the main body of this essay and the conclusion, I feel he / she should become an effective teacher with the ability to create an effective learning environment. ...read more.

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