Learning Is An Ongoing Adventure of Discovery!
I view education and learning as the enjoyment of the continuous process of improvement. There will always be more to learn, there will always be more improvement to be made. If we see education from the point of view of trying to cross a finish line (grades, degrees, etc.), then we will never feel satisfied, because there will always be more to learn, more to achieve. If instead we view it as a fun an exciting process of discovery and improvement, then we will be happy with the understanding that there is no end in sight. The universe is infinite, our minds are infinite, our inner capacity is infinite. Satisfaction is not to be found in trying to reach an end point-it is found when we step into the flow of the endless stream of discovery and development. What an adventure!
Intrinsic Reward System
At Awakening Potential, an intrinsic reward system is used to motivate students. This means that students are rewarded through their own inner feeling of accomplishment. This is in contrast to external reward systems, which rely on outer means of accomplishment. Examples include toys, treats, grades, approval from teachers, etc. External rewards such as these lack power, because they are temporary and depend on many factors outside of the student’s control. They are also a subtle form of manipulation. In contrast, intrinsic rewards empower the student and are long lasting. When a student is able to learn a new concept, improve a skill they have been working on, or overcome a learning obstacle, they will feel a sense of strength and confidence inside. They know, for themselves, that they have the ability to overcome challenges. This is an inner power that they will take with them the rest of their lives, and no one can take it away from them!
The philosophy and approach to education at Awakening Potential is that students find success not only through learning skills, but by building confidence. Confidence is built not by comparison to others, but by the student tapping into their own potential and becoming the best they can be. Confidence is built through having a sense of control over their own ability to overcome personal challenges. Success is defined as improvement in comparison to the student’s own previous abilities, and not through comparing themselves to other students. This definition of success allows a student to always maintain confidence in themselves, and therefore make continual progress towards reaching their full learning potential.
Constructivist View of Learning
The overall approach to teaching and learning follows the Constructivist Approach. This approach views knowledge as something that we actively construct within our minds, rather than as something that is given to us in a prepackaged way. The Learner is not a ‘blank slate,’ and Learning is not something that happens through trying to mentally ‘download’ new information. Instead, the learner actively engages in creating their own understanding of the concepts being presented, making connections to prior knowledge. This makes learning an interactive process, both between the learner and the content being learned, as well as between the learner and the Learning Coach. The constructivist view of learning allows for more engagement and is also more enjoyable for the learner as well. It also allows for the learning process to be ongoing and ever changing. The constructivist approach easily allows for adapting lessons to the student’s needs.
Here is a basic description of the Constructivist view of learning.
And here is a more scholarly description.
I have been trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach, and I use it most often for teaching my students who have dyslexia and need support in reading and writing. This mainly involves the use of multiple modalities (such as visual and hands-on manipulatives, physical gestures to mime sounds, etc.), systematic instruction (broken down into meaningful concepts), and the continuous review and reinforcement of previously taught concepts. This allows students to gradually master concepts as they are reviewed in each lesson, while also introducing new concepts. As a result, the student can make faster improvement. Perhaps one of the best aspects of this approach is that it can easily be adapted according to the student’s needs. The structure of the lesson itself allows for changes to be made in various areas. The Orton-Gillingham approach can be applied to any subject area, and I have found it to be very effective with my students.
Learn more about the Orton-Gillingham approach.
Zone of Proximal Development
This strategy was devised by Vygotsky. It involves adjusting the level of challenge in a lesson to match the student’s ability. You can think of it as the ‘Goldilocks’ method of teaching. If the material is too challenging, the student will become frustrated and lose confidence in themselves. On the other hand, if it is too easy then they will quickly become bored and lose interest. But if the lessons are adapted to have the right amount of challenge, then not only will the student be more engaged, they will also learn more efficiently and thereby increase their confidence. Using the Zone of Proximal Development approach means that the lessons will constantly be adapted and changed to meet the student’s capabilities at that time. As they improve, the content can be made more difficult, but if they are having a very hard time, it can be made easier to accommodate. Although this is a simple method in theory, in practice it means that the Learning Coach must be very attentive to where the student is at. Not only will lessons be adapted from session to session depending on how the student is doing, but they can also be adjusted during the session itself to keep pace with the student.
The Zone of Proximal Development strategy allows for adjustment to not only the student’s academic needs, but to their emotional needs as well. For example, if a student is academically capable of working with a particular concept, but they are struggling emotionally for whatever reason, then slightly easier material will be practiced with until they feel comfortable enough to move on.
Learn more about the Zone of Proximal Development.