Masters' Thesis: Chapter II: "It's a Jungle Out There"! The Theories of Keith Golay (Part 2: The Learning Environment, The Teacher's Roles, Teaching Strategies, Conclusion)
The Learning Environment
Assuming that all four types of learners will always be present in a classroom, a teacher should create the following types of classroom space in order to accommodate them: (adapted titles to match with Allie's Teaching Portfolio picture)
1. Quiet space for individual assignments (Writing Center)- a place where Bears can do workbooks and worksheets or Owls can research individual projects.
2. Small group space (Group/Individual Work Area)- important for Dolphins. Students can get together in small groups to discuss assignments or do problem-solving tasks together. Create space for four to six students that include curriculum materials for all learning types at all levels.
3. Large group space (Circle Area/Reading Center)- a place where students can meet for presentations, discussions, or demonstrations. Apes and Dolphins like to role play, and do dramatizations and presentations. This is a place for the teacher to lecture, or start a discussion, or a place where all students can show off individual projects.
4. A project center (Pretend Play Center)- designed for arts and crafts and science experiments. A place where Dolphins can create art, where Owls can do science experiments, and where Apes can do hands-on experiments.
5. A media center (Technology Center)- for all learners. Include a projector, BlueRay player, television, computer, CD player, MP3 player, video camera, and whatever else can be included. Run all these tools into a listening post with headphones to keep the noise down. Bears can view educational videos and material, Dolphins can create their own films, Owls can create slide shows, and Apes can practice upcoming presentations.
6. A game center (Pretend Play Center)- can appeal to Apes' need for fun, excitement, challenge and contest. Separate from study areas to reduce noise.
By using this multi-sectional classroom arrangement, the teacher becomes a classroom manager, rather than the sole source of information. This frees the teacher to develop a productive relationship with each student, where she guides him in his social, personal, and intellectual development. As a teacher carries out this role of classroom manager, she will have four different opportunities to become aware of the actions and progress of each student; as auditor, monitor, assessor, and instructor.
The Teacher's Roles
As auditor, the teacher receives verbal and written reports from students, which show what students are working on, and how they are doing with projects. After the teacher has been given this information, she should set up progress reports so that all students know where they stand. In addition to learning about students' progress, the teacher can also guide students in selecting topics, developing plans and finding resource material.
As monitor, the teacher needs to circulate around the room and see first-hand what each student is doing. This allows the students to show the teacher any work in progress. This also gives the teacher the opportunity to give encouragement and support.
As assessor, the teacher evaluates students' performance. It is important that all students know the results of their assessment, and how much they have improved. By posting current and previous results for each student, everybody can see how they rate with each other, and how much they have improved. Seeing the progress of each student as well as the progress of the whole class allows the teacher to determine whether all learning types are progressing. In this way, teachers can find deficiencies in their teaching style.
As instructor, it is up to the teacher to design and implement an effective instructional program. By understanding the characteristics of each learning type, a teacher should be able to create an instructional program that will inspire each student.
The teacher/student relationship is important in facilitating learning. The teacher must be seen as benevolent, and as someone who cares about each individual student's welfare. If the students see the teacher as a friend, they will be more cooperative and work harder for success. Constructive criticism is acceptable but should be kept positive. Be sure to show students what can be done to improve, and encourage them to do so.
It is important for teachers to balance freedom with restraint. Ape students want freedom, but can become hyperactive and disruptive with total freedom. Allow short periods of free work time, balanced with equal periods of quiet activities. Bear students need the structure; however, too many restrictions will disrupt their feeling and need of social belonging. Owls will become impatient and disrespectful toward teachers who impose unwarranted or unnecessary rules. Lastly, Dolphin students will withdraw from a restrictive environment.
All students need feedback. Apes like feedback on performance. They need to know that they have had an impact on others, and that their performance was enjoyed. Good grades, or praise for completing a task will not be motivating. Rather, after Apes acquire the knowledge necessary to present, demonstrate or perform, they then want appreciation for the performance. Bears want praise for products. Good grades, gold stars, awards, trophies, ribbons and badges are very important for Bears. They also like recognition for being loyal, industrious and responsible. Owl students like feedback on the quality of their achievement based on its coherence and efficiency. They need encouragement, assurance of capabilities, and direction on how to improve. Report cards can have a negative effect on Owls; once high grades are achieved, they must always be achieved. Dolphins want personalized acknowledgement. Personal notes on papers act as a powerful motivator.
By giving status role assignments, teachers can motivate students. Classroom artisan (draw pictures for teacher), entertainer, official clown, master of ceremonies (leader of performances), demonstrator, or projectionist are roles that would inspire Apes. Bears are the type to enjoy being classroom treasurer, librarian, historian, janitor or caretaker- roles which require being responsible and giving service. As classroom philosopher, designer, inventor, scientist or president, Owls could be given the opportunity to do independent research. As a science or math consultant, Owls could help other students understand concepts. Dolphins would enjoy roles such as co-teacher, or tutor of younger students, classroom counselor, host receptionist, official correspondent, journalist, author or poet. They like roles that help them to bring out the best in others.
Teachers should understand and be able to value the differences that each learning type can bring to the classroom. Apes bring fun and laughter. They help solve immediate problems. In addition, Apes are open-minded, adaptable, patient and non-judgmental. Bears bring the concept of social responsibility to the classroom. Owls are enthusiastic about learning, and this often rubs off on other students. They also add efficiency and effectiveness to the classroom. Dolphins add warmth and caring to the general atmosphere. They work to create freedom, autonomy and equality among individuals.
When assessing a student's personality and learning characteristics, the teacher should remember that every single individual is different. By associating the four different learning styles to students, the teacher can get a better, quicker grasp of what each student can contribute to a particular learning environment, and what each student will probably draw from the same environment. Each student has specific strengths and weaknesses. By teaching in an environment that accommodates each learning style, a teacher can promote learning within every student.
is a professional pianist, teacher, singer, and Music Director currently residing in Snohomish, Washington. She is the Director of Music at Peace Lutheran Church in Monroe, WA, and also teaches private piano, voice and ukulele lessons at The ARK in Snohomish, WA.