Authentic and meaningful learning takes place in an environment where students are actively engaged in the process.
Here at Illawarra Christian School we begin with an understanding of the way in which God designed us. He made us for relationships and to grow in a community. It is with this perspective that we function in a context of a learning community to help us be transformed, be engaged, and increase in our knowledge and understanding of God and his world.
Students will engage in the learning process when they can connect with what is going on around them. They become engaged when they can be part of constructing meaning and make connections with the world. When students are engaged in their learning, their attention, focus, contributions to, and investment in that process are enhanced. Also, when students are given opportunities to collaborate and build on the ideas of others, there is an aspect of mutual blessing that occurs as a community of learners. Contributing to such an environment has great benefits for both students and teachers as they grow to become lifelong learners.
Within our infants and primary classrooms, teachers employ many strategies including visible thinking routines to enhance student engagement. For example, students are invited to physically move around and interact with the space and with each other. Students are given post-it notes to jot their ideas and place on the walls to make thinking more visible and to diversify ideas. By brainstorming in this way, diversity is made more obvious and each learner can contribute to the momentum of ideas. Students can add thoughts to the post-it notes, or use them as springboards for deeper thinking. Some classrooms are set up to promote specific levels of engagement including cushioned seating, modular furniture, round tables for collaboration, and the use of individual whiteboards for the evolution of ideas in a live setting.
Engaging students in the learning process is critical for authentic learning to occur. Our infants and primary staff are well equipped and excited to meet those challenges in their classrooms.