April (2014)
February (2014)
January (2014)
December (2013)
November (2013)
Valuing Work
October (2013)
September (2013)
May (2013)
April (2013)
March (2013)
February (2013)
January (2013)
November (2012)
Learning Styles
October (2012)
Integrated Support
During a conversation yesterday with Head of School Mike Henriques, he commented, "We need to continue to show those exploring our website how our Learning Skills program touches every student at Proctor." While about one hundred students are currently enrolled in Proctor's Learning Skills program, the reach of that department is far greater than those directly involved.

Since its inception, Proctor's academic support system has sought to provide an integrated support model, where students and teachers work collaboratively to understand how varied learning styles can enhance the classroom experience for all involved. 

As I took attendance for my AP Economics class today, I was reminded that a third of the students in that class are enrolled in Learning Skills. What I appreciate about this fact is not that those students have additional support academically from Learning Specialists who know how they learn inside and out, but that their diverse learning styles encourage me to think differently as a teacher.

I know how I learn, and I often find myself wanting to teach the way I would want to be taught. But this is not best for a diverse classroom. As I look out into the eyes of my students each day I see learners who are not uniform. Instead, I see some who I know thrive on linear explanations and concrete notes and others who soak in class discussions and need to orally process information with their peers. I am reminded that still others are itching to engage in our next hands-on simulation that triggers their kinesthetic minds, and yet others need visual explanations of content to internalize that which we are learning.

This eclectic mix of brain chemistry results in a classroom that is dynamic, ever-changing, and always evolving. As teachers throughout Proctor's academic departments provide this type of environment, everyone benefits. Even though we all wish we could be surrounded by individuals who communicate information to us in the way we most efficiently receive it, that is not reality.

As adults in the professional world, we are surrounded by just as many different types of learners as are represented in my classroom. I know some of my colleagues need to orally process information, while others do not. Learning how others learn, and communicating with them in a way that best suits their learning style is an incredibly valuable skill to learn.

Our experience over the past sixty years of offering learning support to students is that all students benefit tremendously from learning next to those who learn differently than them. While traditional educational models favor (and reward) a specific type of learner, a 21st century economy favors the flexible learner.

To communicate the impact of Proctor's Learning Skills program, as Mike mentioned above, one must look at the different layers of influence of the 2:1 tutorials that take place each academic block in the Fowler Learning Center. Obviously, learning specialist/student relationships are the foundation of this program, as specialists help students along their journey of better understanding their own style and help them become self-advocates in the classroom. But as self-awareness and student-driven conversations about learning permeate every classroom on campus, a community of empathetic, introspective learners develops.

We believe that this type of community prepares our students for the collaborative learning environments they will encounter throughout the rest of their lives. Proctor's Learning Skills program does not solely reside on the third floor of the Fowler Learning Center, but rather lives in each and every classroom on campus, and therefore is able to make a significant impact on the learning experience of all 360 students enrolled at Proctor.
While one hundred students are enrolled in Learning Skills, the benefit of this program permeates every student's experience at Proctor.
With every class filled with diverse learners, students and teachers have the opportunity to form dynamic environments within academic classes.
Classes, like Wildlife Science, provide a mix of field work and classroom work, allowing all types of learners to thrive.
Most importantly, however, Learning Skills encourages a culture of self-awareness with regard to learning.
In our experience at Proctor, we have found that when there aren't stigmas attached to varied learning styles, everyone benefits from the resulting classroom environment.