Creating a Safe and Supportive Learning Environment
It is important to foster a learning environment in which students feel safe, relaxed, and willing to take risks, especially for learners who may have had negative experiences in traditional classroom environments. Students often describe supportive learning environments as expanding their sense of family and enhancing their self-esteem, which, when combined with increased literacy skills, help students take more chances in pursuing their goals.
Here are some ways to create a supportive learning environment for your students:
Build a strong classroom community
The adult education classroom can play an important role in helping students ...view middle of the document...
It may be appropriate to start with material that is slightly below the student’s level.
•Be patient! Patience is an extremely important characteristic for any teacher or tutor of adults. Adults can often take a longer time in the learning process because of various learning barriers, but this does not mean they aren’t motivated to learn.
•Accept your student as he/she is and respect his/her values even if they differ from yours.
•Believe in your student and he/she will begin to believe in him/herself.
•Memorize the names of all your students within the first week of instruction. Use students’ names frequently.
•If your students are English learners, learn a few key phrases in their native languages to model that it is acceptable to struggle with pronunciation and language learning.
Use positive nonverbal communication
Nonverbal messages are an essential component of communication in the teaching process. It is not only what you say to your students that is important but also how you say it. An awareness of nonverbal behavior will allow you to become a better receiver of students’ messages and a better sender of signals that reinforce learning.
Some areas of nonverbal behaviors to explore include:
•Eye contact: Teachers who make eye contact open the flow of communication and convey interest, concern, warmth and credibility.
•Facial expressions: Smiling is a great way to communicate friendliness and warmth to students.
•Gestures: A lively and animated teaching style captures students’ attention, makes the material more interesting, and facilitates learning. Head nods also communicate positive reinforcement to students and indicate that you are listening.
•Posture and body orientation: Standing erect, but not rigid, and leaning slightly forward communicates to students that you are approachable, receptive and friendly. Speaking with your back turned or looking at the floor or ceiling should be avoided, as it communicates disinterest.
•Proximity: Cultural norms dictate a...