I have always been intrigued by the reality of my non-traditional means of “learning”. What I really mean by “learning” is being able to master a test on the first try. As a high school student, I remember everyone around me preparing for final exams by participating in late night cramming sessions. This seemed like the norm at the time so I also carried on this tradition for many years. One of my most kept secrets is that even though I’d crammed for a test for a few nights in a row, I would never really earn an “A”. Can you imagine my frustration? Surely I wasn’t alone. This formula seemed to serve others well, yet almost every time I went through the intense studying process I would be just borderline successful; (meaning B’s-C’s).
Was I not studying as long? Was I not a fast enough reader? Or perhaps I was a horrible test taker? Yes, I entertained these thoughts for several years until I almost accepted the idea of just not having what it takes to be a high achieving student. Until I encountered my algebra II teacher in high school. She noticed that I was a struggling math student and decided to collaborate with me daily. At the end of a lesson, she would sit with me and initiate a conversation about my math struggles. We would practice strengthening these shortcomings together. We did this daily for months and soon I began to notice that every assessment I took in her class resulted in an “A”. Never did I once study for an exam yet I managed to always be prepared. The only explanation for me being able to excel on these assessments for that entire year is that I was actively engaged and learning.
I would like to introduce my abstract definition of learning based on my experiences and then break this down further.
Learning is a short, precise moment in time where barriers, walls, and reservations are suspended and true engagement holds the door open for information to convert into new skills, experiences, and impressions which spark a purpose within a student and gives them a desire to want to remain invested and inspire others.
How do I apply this philosophy? Well my career in education began in 2011 and since then I have tried to formulate a recipe for successful learning. If I can create an environment for students to be invested in the information that I am helping them discover, then I would be facilitating genuine learning. Here are the categories that I believe need to take place in order for learning to be successful.
- Learning is a process, not a product. Progress and ability are more significant than a numeric grade.
- Learning must be active and not passive. Creating, manipulating, collaborating is essential.
- Learning endures over time: new information must be distributed and practiced over time in order for it to be effective.
- Learning is not always predetermined, it can take place anywhere.
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