8weeksofsummer Learning Together

This post is week 4 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators.

The Prompt:

Lead Learner

What are optimal conditions in which to learn, for you, and for students?


Connect kindly and learn together—

a climate of community where each of us know we belong and can consider ideas, communicate our own ideas, collaborate when needed, connect with others around the globe, create our own paths of growth, and curate and share our journey. It’s the classroom and school climate and the sense of community and trust that opens minds to learning. Building relationships across cultures and ideas to show acceptance and a willingness to understand and work together is vital.

Our brains are wired to analyze, think, connect, remember, wonder, question, sense, practice, feel, hesitate when needed, and spark new connections from all that.

We must feel that we can boldly state our ideas to be heard and to listen to feedback while we connect kindly to learn together.

While reading and writing are important, we recognize that sharing ideas can occur in many different ways to light up our minds and think through ideas; technology helps with this.

While we strive for our own growth, working and learning together solidifies learning– and we can each use our strengths to benefit our collaboration.

Each learner wants to know others care about their ideas, and that choice and voice are part of our learning paths; we need to apply our strengths — the gifts we have– to benefit our own and others’ learning.

In our classrooms, we welcome each other and invite others into our learning– the things we wonder about. To be engaged in optimal learning, we might ask these questions about the learning environment:

  • Is there openness for wonder — my interests?
  • Is everyone welcome?
  • Do we allow time to hang out to figure out about the things on which we wonder and want to consider?
  • Is every voice welcome and heard?
  • Could I learn through a different path, process, or product?
  • Could I take more or less time and plan my choices?
  • How do we support each other?
  • Are we positive and helpful in giving and receiving our feedback and critiques?
  • May we choose our devices and apps with which to learn and share?

In other words, for optimal learning, we need to reach and teach the students we have, not teach program and content requirements. People matter most. The content will come.

How do we create a welcoming climate where learners [teacher and student] own their learning paths?

An optimal learning environment is one in which the teacher is always reflecting on their work to ensure students can engage in their own learning.

And to be in charge of their learning, choosing the path in the content, the learning must be authentic — a purpose and path that is true to life.

Dewey reminded us of this long ago:

The considerate climate, the student course through the content, and the authentic context promote optimal learning. I know it’s how I learn best. How about you? What are your optimal learning conditions?

If you’d like more information about the relevance of these conditions, see Gallup authors Buckman and Coffman’s work in “First, Break All the Rules, What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently” a look at the conditions that promote the most productive and satisfying work climate. Here’s a summary. Notice the twelve questions and their similarity to learner’s needs. We all need to feel we belong, are helpfully productive, and heard. Schools and classrooms need to be communities of learners. How do we build that?


on “8weeksofsummer Learning Together
4 Comments on “8weeksofsummer Learning Together
  1. Sheri,
    Your post is beautiful! So many lovely images and inspiring quotes. I could read these a few times and learn more each time. As Joy said, you surely put a lot of thought into this.

    I love the students Bill of Rights too. Knowing one is cared for does give hope, and then doing what you love and are good at make for an optimal learning environment.

    Thanks for sharing,

    • Hi Denise,

      Thank you. You know as well as me that it is our connectedness that helped us gather insights into pedagogy that works– we can share, converse, refine, revise what we learn from others. I’m thankful for the technology that helps us build relationships and knowledge. We build from each other, and you and Joy and #clmooc and #etmooc were a big part of these understandings. 🙂 ~ Sheri

  2. Sheri,
    You went a totally different route than me, and I can tell you thought WAY more about this prompt. THANK YOU! I need to use that “students’ bill of rights” and remember the “affinity classrooms” questions always. Maybe I should post those where I can see them in class and circle back to them when a lesson is flopping. Thank you for sharing. I felt like I was IN your classroom, as I was surrounded by care.

    • Hi Joy,

      Thanks. I commented on yours, and loved how you brought the ideas down to the personal level, which is, of course, what you do and what is needed to reach the willingness to learn. 🙂 ~ Sheri

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