by Krista Glosson and Alyssa Trausch

This is part of a blog series intended to document and define learning at Elk Grove High School throughout the 2018-2019 school year in order to increase student learning, give professionals autonomy, increase trust in our learning community, and foster a sense of personal-intellectual collegiality within the building across departments. You can read all of the previous posts here.  I am going into each teacher’s class four times and then they are reflecting alongside their students on the learning that took place and what they hope for.

Learning is:

  • risk-taking.
  • trying.
  • application.
Learning occurs best when:
  • it’s repetitive. 
  • people are involved in the process. 
  • people collaborate.

How do you define learning?

Krista Glosson (Teacher): I define learning as the willingness to try new things and take risks in the classroom.  When students try (anything at all in the classroom) they will find an end result.  The end result could be positive or negative for them, but even a negative experience could end up contributing to success later on if they continue to try.  For example, in the microscope lesson, all of the students tried to use the microscope.  Some students enjoyed the process more than others and had varying levels of success.  All of the students left the lesson with new information and some left with a new career to think about pursuing.

I always tell students that I expect to see attempts and failures when we start an inquiry lab in class.  Time is built in for students to have at least one failure in their investigation so that they can re-evaluate their approach and try again.  Assignments that require them to try to explain big phenomenon are assignments that I assume I will provide feedback on and they will try again to get it right.

Ultimately, as teachers we are still learning by trying new things sometimes they are successful and we learn to keep going in that direction or we fail and try again.  If we can provide an atmosphere where failure is safe (to an extent) we can help them build a tolerance for momentary failure while keeping the end goal of success in focus.  If we can teach them to learn this way, then I think we have had a significant impact on their success as an adult after they leave us.

Alyssa Trausch (Student):  I would define learning as getting information that is remembered and applied throughout your life. I may be a skill, an emotion or even just a fact, but it’s something that you will use again.

How do you believe people learn best?

Krista Glosson (Teacher):  Since I believe that trying is a big part of learning I like to make sure that the students are involved as often as possible.  They should be creating and contributing to the class material and discussions as often as possible.  I like to have them developing material for their classmates, completing activities in the lab, designing, running, and explaining their own experiments as well as having multiple small group discussions.

Alyssa Trausch (Student): An example would be a skill like writing which you learn at a young age. Writing is something that was consistently done over and over and over until we learned how to do it. It wasn’t one of those things where we “learned” it for 3 days took a quiz and then maybe a final later and then never use it again. That’s what I think learning is.

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