Mary, Mary

Would you want to be a child in your class?

The teacher is the director of all that happens in a classroom. The space, resources, accessibility and time available for tasks, are all held within the teacher planning.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,

Abraham Maslow developed a schema to exemplify the developmental purposes of a child’s life. It is the teacher purpose to support the child in their progress towards the notion of self-actualisation, perhaps to be called independence? Do schools and teachers sufficiently value independence to make this one of their learning goals? Independence can be stifled by restrictive tasking or over-exuberant adult support.

The teacher mindset will determine the working methodology within the classroom. One teacher’s misconception is another’s failure and this decision is likely to impact on the subsequent learning journey of the child. If the teacher is not in tune with the child’s thinking, assumptions can cloud judgement and feedback can be given that is unhelpful or, in the worst cases, damaging.

 The tone of the classroom is set by the teacher language and the role model being shared. How the teacher phrases questions will determine the responses. The time given to reflection and discussion will have an impact on the depth of response. The teacher response to the reply will decide whether the child will volunteer ideas in the future.

Where children work together, there are opportunities for substantive talk, sharing opinions, clarifying ideas, deciding a course of action, resource needs, both artefacts and skills and evaluating as the project progresses, so that the outcome can be shared with pride and be subject to scrutiny from others.

The benefits of collaborative experience can be described within the following diagram.

The teacher role is to think clearly about the children in their class, knowing their individual learning, social and emotional needs. They plan within a creative context for differential activity, embedding certain expectations as predicted or hoped-for outcomes. Stimuli engage the children into the context and the subsequent tasking permits the children to perceive and work within their own learning goals. The teacher or other adult seeks to engage with groups and individuals to gauge the dynamics of the progress being made, to inform feedback and subsequent learning plans. Summarised as the diagram below, the teacher’s role and the child role are complementary.

So, would you want to be a child in your class? Consider your reasons.

What would you alter and what is stopping you from taking that action?

Is it possible that the teacher is a barrier to learning for some children in the class?

If the items in this article are of interest to you and you’d like to respond, please use the following:-

Tel No: (01256) 316536  Fax No: 020 7190 5860  Email:

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