C. Professional Knowledge

OCT Standard: Professional Knowledge 
Members strive to be current in their professional knowledge and recognize its relationship to practice. They understand and reflect on student development, learning theory, pedagogy, curriculum, ethics, educational research and related policies and legislation to inform professional judgment in practice.

Rationale: Using a cross section of learning theorists and their work can help to ground what you do on a day-to-day basis in the classroom. In looking through the work of educational researchers, you are able to lay hold to a solid theoretical foundation to support the practical application in your classroom practice. This not only provides a network of support to help in your choices in the classroom, but can provide a framework from which to build as you learn about other approaches and incorporate them into your pedagogical toolkit.  In this assignment, I’ve attempted to bring together a few theorists work that together serve to frame many of the classroom practices that I see as holding promise to benefit student learning.

Assignment/Reflection: Learning Theory Belief Statement

Teaching and Learning can be complicated endeavors. Both teachers and students have multiple perspectives, experiences, and approaches to the world. I believe that the Junior age student needs a variety of approaches to help with their learning. At heart, I’m a constructivist, and feel that the ideas of Bruner, Dewey and others about how students create knowledge via comparison of new ideas to prior experience with new information and experiences to be the ones that resonate with me. In addition, Vygotsky’s social construction of knowledge is a key component of the integration of new ideas and building of understanding.  More recently, I’ve come to an understanding of a more discovery-based approach to learning, and feel that Junior students will benefit from this kind of learning as detailed by Papert and Bruner. Inquiry-based classrooms often use this type of approach to help students construct meaning and understanding in particular curriculum areas. Making learning personal and relevant, as Rogers discusses in experiential learning is also important, as students will engage quicker and longer in learning activities that are more personally meaningful to them.

In terms of behaviourist approaches, I feel that people are more complicated than simple stimulus/response approaches would say, and that Bandura’s ideas of modeling and imitating is more important for teachers to understand than the simplistic approaches of someone like Skinner.  Simple Pavlovian approaches may sometimes work on basic non-negotiable things like student safety, but when it comes to learning, students are more complex and require deeper thinking in our approaches to learning and teaching.

What this all means for a Junior level classroom, is that the teacher needs to consider a variety of approaches for the students, as they develop. The environment needs to be safe to allow students to take risks in their learning, to experiment, to ask questions and learn how to find their own answers. Students need opportunities to work together, and independently, to engage in social negotiation and discussion with peers and adults to help construct meaning about the topics they are learning. Curriculum can be used to point students in certain directions to find activities that they wish to engage in but it’s best not to always dictate what the specific learning must be. As the Junior student develops more abstract thinking and cognitive abilities, the teacher can provide opportunities for them to engage in deeper learning, through inquiry based learning, discovery learning and experimentation. As teachers, we can help them to develop their personal learning abilities and styles to best suit their needs and interests.

Resources
http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/constructivist.html
http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/experiental-learning.html
http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/social-development.html
http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/social-learning.html
http://www.learning-theories.com/social-learning-theory-bandura.html
http://www.learning-theories.com/piagets-stage-theory-of-cognitive-development.html
http://www.learning-theories.com/vygotskys-social-learning-theory.html
http://www.learning-theories.com/discovery-learning-bruner.html

Next: Professional Practices

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