Chapter 1: Environment

  •  “Our environment, the world in which we live and work,
    is a mirror of our attitudes and expectations.”
    Earl Nightingale

    Descriptor

    For learning to occur, the learning environment must be safe—physically, intellectually and emotionally.
    A constructivist-learning environment supports the construction of knowledge, disciplined inquiry and value beyond school. It nurtures higher order thinking, natural curiosity, deep knowledge, substantive conversation and connections to the world beyond the classroom. It promotes meaningful dialogue and meaning making together and within self through collaboration and reflection. Every educator has the responsibility to provide a safe and healthy learning environment. The following four dimensions: Academic/Learning, Physical/Virtual, Social/Emotional and Community provide a framework for establishing such an environment.
     

    Designing Learning Environments – District/Campus

    To help educators create a constructivist-learning environment, the district and campus will:
    • provide systems of support for educator efficacy
    • respond to the unique needs of novice, experienced, master and struggling educators
    • create a system-wide culture of collaboration and engagement
    • provide a professional learning system that builds capacity in facilitating meaningful learning for all commit resources for the design and expansion of flexible learning spaces

    Designing Learning Environments – Educator Academic/Learning

    Create a learner-centered environment in which learners gradually construct their own meaning. Educators:
    • facilitate rigorous authentic experiences
    • create a brain-friendly environment that considers the learner’s emotions, interests, previous experiences and learning styles 
    • build in reflection time to make meaning
    • design experiences and investigations in which learners develop understandings of concepts through their own experiences
    • encourage differences of opinion and use them as potential solutions to problems
    • collaborate with learners to determine how learning is demonstrated and assessed
    • capitalize on learners’ interests to make learning relevant
    • collaborate within professional learning communities (PLCs) to improve the art and science of learning design
    • facilitate the transfer of knowledge across multiple disciplines

    Physical/Virtual

    Design classrooms that include the flexible use of space, technology, materials and time. Educators:
    • bring in external resources 
    • provide equitable access to quality learning tools and resources for all
    • collaborate with learners to ensure classrooms and common spaces are clean and maintained with pride
    • display learner work purposefully in classrooms, common spaces and/or virtual environment that reflects a community of learner-created materials or anchors 
    • ensure classroom procedures and routines are clear and consistent for learners
    • provide flexible furnishings, that reflect learner voice, within the learning spaces

    Social/Emotional

    Build appropriate and positive relationships that foster a mutual respect. Educators:
    • create a non-threatening environment that is conducive to risk taking
    • communicate high expectations for all
    • interact in a positive way with each learner each day
    • foster reciprocal relationships through mutual respect and dignity
    • celebrate the successes of others
    • provide frequent, authentic positive feedback 
    • treat learner misbehavior as a learning opportunity and design natural and logical consequences that are not academically or socially punitive
    • establish classroom norms collaboratively with learners to foster social and academic success

    Community

    Engage families and the community in the life of the school. Educators:
    • establish positive relationships and maintain regular communication with families and community members
    • maintain virtual communication avenues including digital newsletters, email, websites
    • establish reciprocal communication and relationships that respect the cultures, backgrounds and values of their learners and their families
    • provide a variety of ways for families and community members to participate in the school community during and beyond the school day
    • provide resources and assistance for families new to the District
    • collaborate with parents and community members as part of the campus decision-making process

    Reference: Creating a New Vision for Public Education (Article 1 a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i; Article V e, h)