These past few weeks of the school year have simply flown by. It is officially fall, and the school year is well underway. One of the focus topics with the start of a new school year is… social norms. We need to know what behaviors are socially acceptable. This is critical now as the “honeymoon” period of the school year is almost over as well as for new students just entering school for the first time. Desired behaviors can be learned by most on most days. Who said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? We can all learn something sometime, right?
This past week while working on social norms, one of the English learners in my care greeted his teacher on his own one morning and another learner told her teacher “You’re welcome” while finishing up some math work on the board and politely handing the smartboard marker back to the teacher. Both cases caused the classroom teacher to be pleasantly surprised by the learning that has taken place in such a short time – and has been applied. (Yay! I played a part in that!! 🙂 ) These two individuals are motivated to learn and curious about the English language and culture; they want to learn.
“Learning is what we humans do best. We learn throughout our lives by wondering and exploring, experiencing and playing” (Ostroff, 2016, p.1). In Wendy Ostroff’s book, Cultivating Curiosity in K-12 Classrooms, we are reminded that curiosity is essential to being human, living well, and being happy. Curious to know more? You are encouraged to read the book to learn more.
So how can teachers encourage curiosity without killing the cat? “Fostering curiosity involves listening to the myriad of voices and perspectives of the class community members and respecting each other enough to put oneself ‘out there'” (Ostroff, 2016, p.6). The power of a positive growth mindset remains unchallenged. We can accomplish almost anything that we believe.
Learners should be involved with both content and technique. They should be engaged in the learning and active participants instead of being told what to know and how to think. If involved, motivation to learn cultivates curiosity, which can bring out the child in all of us.
Allowing learners an opportunity to grow during unstructured times with choices, provides a safe place to make mistakes… to learn from them, and grow from them. This can be a hard one to let go and grow with, but it is essential to curiosity leading to creativity. If learners cannot be tasked with the charge to be curious and learn, we have failed. This doesn’t mean it will be an overnight success without guidance. We need to model and mold – all the while knowing the mold is meant to change.
A little respect can go a long way – in life and in career; this includes how we treat and challenge others. Create curious habits and habitats for learners. Enlist the help of Curious George and other characters who live a life of curiosity and never stop learning and growing.
Life and learning are a journey; enjoy the adventure!