It is not a simple task for
educators to discover what it takes to help students get the most out of their
education. Chances are, it takes more than the child simply coming to class for
them to understand the value of their education and how, within in their hands,
is the ability to improve the world around them. Teachers have the capacity to
motivate and influence students to develop a continual appreciation for
education, especially once they generate that spark. When a teacher chooses to
center a learning environment on the student they are emphasizing the idea that
the student is in control of his or her education. By drawing on induvial
experiences and strengths and developing a learner-teacher relationship, a
positive foundation of education can be built. Educators need to jump at the
opportunity to help develop and mold children while they are still young to
embed the thirst for knowledge. Teachers have a profound impact on their
students and a little understanding and encouragement can mean the difference
between a high school graduate and a high school drop out on the fast track to
prison. If teachers can instill the importance of an education from the start,
children will realize that they have unbound potential and ability to change
the world.

Conclusion

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Diversity may bring challenges into
the classroom but educators should strive to see it as an opportunity.
“Students tend to want to participate and do their best when a teacher is
nurturing and caring…we will not achieve even that academic success
unless our children believe they themselves are cared for and learn to care for
others” (Saravia-Shore, 2017).
Therefore, teachers need only to take the opportunity to get to know each
student; know their family, concerns, goals, strengths, weaknesses and home
challenges. As the evidence suggests, when a student feels cared for, and teachers
are able to forge a learner-teacher relationship, diversity ceases to be an
issue and becomes a gift.

As
previously mentioned, teachers may go through a period of trial and error
before the find the appropriate way to optimize a student’s learning
experience. The reason behind this is clear: no two children are exactly alike
in behavior, background or learning abilities. Some may adjust quickly to the school setting and learning
may not be a barrier for them while others may not speak English or have
developmental disabilities. “The broad range of experiences and perspectives
brought to school by culturally, linguistically, and ethnically diverse
students offer a powerful resource for everyone to learn more—in different
ways, in new environments, and with different types of people” (Saravia-Shore,
2017). Diverse classrooms have many benefits; they allow students to gather
different perspectives, interact with children who are different from them,
which in turn promotes respect and an understanding of different cultures.
Teachers may experience difficulty connecting with students of a different
cultural background and may need to practice teaching procedures that build on
the student’s strengths. 

Diversity

The
role of a student-teacher relationship is very important for children.
Considering how much time a student spends in the classroom over the course of
the school year, it is important that a teacher aims to be approachable and
able to create a classroom environment that is inviting and supportive to
learning. There are several factors that are necessary to create a positive
student-teacher relationship; things like open communication and mutual respect
will foster this relationship. Teachers are well aware that no two students are
alike; students have different abilities and therefore will learn at different
rates. “Positive teacher-student relationships evidenced by teachers’ reports
of low conflict, a high degree of closeness and support, and little dependency
have been shown to support students’ adjustment to school, contribute to their
social skills, promote academic performance and foster students’ resiliency in
academic performance” (Rimm-Kaufman & Sandilos, n.d). There is no doubt
that a positive student-teacher relationship is long lasting. Research
conducted by Rimm-Kaufman & Sandilos showed that the relationship can
impact not only academic achievement but behavioral problems as well.

Learning
is a two sided coin; it is not solely the responsibility to the educator nor is
solely the responsibility of the learner. The two must work harmoniously to
achieve optimal results. The learner fulfills his or her duty by taking an
active role in the learning opportunities avaliable and accepting the
responsibility that they are accountable for their failure as well as their
success inside the classroom. Simple things like completing assignments,
behaving properly and attending class are also the responsibilities of the
learner. The teacher wears many hats: advocate, mentor, resource.  They are responsible for finding the balance
to drive education forward. The goal of the educator should be for the two
sides of the coin to operate in sync with one another, forming a student
(learner) – teacher relationship.

Teacher-Learner
Relationships

One
method of instructional practice I would use, is one that places the students
as the central focus: Social Reconstructionism. This philosophy is known for
“combining study and social action, and believe that education can and should
go hand in hand with ameliorating social problems” (Sadker, 2017). The
philosophy further promotes exploration of student experiences and how to take
social action on things happening in our world; teachers promote the idea that
actions based in theory can change the world. In Dead Poets Society, John Keating, played by Robin Williams says to
his class: “No matter what
anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world” (Haft & Weir, 1989).
This film is a prominent example of a teacher inspiring his students in the
classroom. Though fictional, the story demonstrates the importance of reaching
students on an individual level to enhance their learning experience and is one
reason I would try to implement this into my own practices. By helping
students and encouraging them to cherish their education I think more advanced learning
can occur. According to the Socratic teaching method “Knowledge will not come
from teaching but from questioning” (Smith, 2013).  Discover what motivates a child to lean and
keep them wanting to participate in their own education. As a future school
counselor, I hope to do just that.

“Student centered learning is regarded as a
methodological orientation that focuses on certain teaching and learning methods,
“participatory methods” which involve students taking charge of their own
learning” (Msonde & Msonde, 2017). Looking back at the progression
of education through the centuries, I have found that the road to education and
truth has a great deal to do with those who teach. Plato’s plan to create his
ideal Republic demonstrated his belief that educators must be invested in their
pupils; they need to care about their present and their future. “Educating is a
moral enterprise and it is the duty of educators to search for truth and
virtue, and in so doing guide those they have a responsibility to teach” (Smith,
2013).

Instructional Practice

In a student-centered philosophy of education, teachers
focus on the individual needs of the student, and the school is the setting- a
place that aims to help students improve society and realize their
individuality (Sadker, 2017). Teachers will face challenges are they seek to
discover what motivates each child to learn. Trial and error will come into
play as one method fails them, and a secondary route must be explored. However,
teachers are prepared for this as they too have sought out levels of higher
education. Aristotle who believed that as a result to learning, man was
capable of practical reasoning and ethical behavior and our ability to fulfil
our purpose (Gutek, 1995). That purpose is to find a way to communicate with
students in order to prepare them for a changing future.

It
all begins with the teacher’s philosophy for education. “Behind every school and every
teacher is a set of related beliefs–a philosophy of education–that influences
what and how students are taught. A philosophy of education represents answers
to questions about the purpose of schooling, a teacher’s role, and what should
be taught and by what methods” (Sadker, 2017). There are both teacher and
student-centered philosophies. I personally stand on the side of a
student-centered philosophy because I do believe that a teacher must work with
the student to discover the best way for them to understand the topic. “The
teacher’s role is to identify those aspects that are critical and to develop conditions that enable
students to attend to those critical aspects through an experience of variation”
(Msonde & Msonde, 2017). The
studies, which have been conducted around this topic, demonstrate that feedback
and instructional methods are factors that have an even greater impact on how a
student learns that those of their home environment (Msonde & Msonde,
2017).

My
personal philosophy of education is: education is a tool, use it for good.
 I’ve always felt that education is something, once earned, can never be
taken from me. In the same breath, it needs to be said that an education should
be shared in the effort to benefit mankind. Apart from the benefits of
education such as money and confidence, an educated person can do more for the
world than, perhaps, a high school dropout. Education helps people become a
useful member of society. The school-to-prison pipeline demonstrates of how a
lack of education can produce negative consequences. For those that see the
value of education and continue their learning journey beyond the twelve years
of high school, there is a world full of unbridled possibilities. For me,
education has opened doors I never imagined accessible. “Aristotle designated
the liberal arts as those studies that liberate people by enlarging and
expanding their choices” (Gutek, 1995, p. 51).  To use one’s education for the good of mankind
is to go to medical school, join NASA, or become a teacher. An educated
individual has the ability not only to make the world a safer place but can
impact society through contributions to their community, and promote economic
growth.

Philosophy of Schools & Learning

“The future success of every child
is in many ways determined before he or she turns eight. During those early
years, how that child learns and develops — mentally, emotionally and socially
— is critical” (Skarda, 2015). Often, if a child fails to grasp the
importance and value of their education the consequences in the future can be
disastrous. These students “are more likely to experience academic failure, mental
health problems, substance abuse, gang activity, and justice system
involvement, according to research. They’re also more likely to drop out”
(Langberg & Ciolfi, 2017). The school-to-prison pipeline is only one
example but according to Langberg and Ciolfi, studies from Virginia showed that
out of 70,000 students who were suspended in one school year, one-fifth of
those were in pre-kindergarten through 5th grade. This is the time
when teachers can have the greatest impact on a child’s education; it is a
responsibility that cannot be ignored. Educators are endowed with the power to
become a positive role model for students, enhance the learning environment, so
it is fun and exciting, and develop healthy relationships with their students. The
result may be a child that is eager and willing to enter into society prepared
to make it a better place. Education
is a tool that should be used to improve the world in which we share
for the benefit of mankind.

How
can educators encourage children to make the most out of their education? The
early stages of childhood is the ideal time to introduce children into a
positive learning environment. It has been said many times before: children are
like sponges; they absorb everything. It is at this time in their lives where
educators can begin to develop a lasting impression. One must understand that
every experience a child has, what they see and behaviors they adopt, will all
impact their future. Early childhood education stimulates socialization outside
of the immediate family, fosters the understanding and concept of teamwork, and
promotes confidence. Arguably more important is the ability to generate
eagerness and enthusiasm for lifelong learning and express the value of a good
education. When a child enrolls in pre-kindergarten or kindergarten, teachers
have the opportunity to become a role model. By introducing young children to
education in fun and exciting way, they are promoting positive experiences that
demonstrate the value of education.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Keywords: education, motivation, relationship,
encourage)

            Education is a tool
that should be used to improve the world in which we share. It is the right of
all children that they be granted a free, public education however, it is the
responsibility of educators to provide a safe and constructive learning
environment that motivates children to want to learn. Educators need to be
prepared that not every child that passes the threshold into their classroom is
prepared or even willing to learn. Creating the spark, fostering a healthy and
trusting relationship, and encouraging children to desire continual growth
through education are only a few of their goals. For those teachers who fight
these constant battles, as they advocate for their students, the reward is a
child who enjoys coming to school and looks forward to the next day’s academic
adventures. With the student now primed and ready for learning, educators can
help shape the future for a child into what will hopefully become one of moral
fiber, positive influence and unlimited potential.

Abstract