In this essay I will explain and discuss how motivation is one of the most important factors that influence learning, relationships and communication in the classroom. The responsibility for creating a positive learning atmosphere lies almost entirely with the teacher and motivated students make this process a lot easier. Motivation also plays a critical role in developing relationships in the classroom, both teacher and student motivation. I will also discuss in greater detail later of the importance of involving the parent or carer in building these relationships and how this enhances these relationships. The ability of the teacher to communicate both verbally and non-verbally with their students is hugely important and is the cornerstone on which effective learning is built. Motivation again is a hugely significant factor in this communication process, as a motivated teacher communicates well with their students and a motivated teacher leads to the development of motivated students.
A positive learning environment is one of the most basic requirements in order for meaningful learning to occur in a classroom (Kyriacou, 2009). A positive learning atmosphere is one where the students are comfortable, hold confidence in their teacher, and feel a sense of trust and respect for one another. In order to enhance learning lessons must be organised and the teacher must plan for the use teaching methods that encourage students to become actively involved in learning. This can be done by also varying the curriculum and finding out what our students interests are, giving them motivation to learn. Teachers need to challenge themselves to use different teaching methods to stimulate pleasure in learning and consequently tackle boredom. The introduction of new educational approaches such as projects and investigative work will allow time for pupils to report back on what they learnt and support this process. A study by Kaplan et al. (2002) found that the level of disruptive behaviour by pupils tended to be higher in those classrooms where the pupils felt that the demonstration of ability and doing better than others was the dominant value compared with classrooms where the pupils felt that the dominant values were learning, understanding and improving one’s own performance. Kyriacou (2007) suggests the teacher needs to be relaxed, warm, caring, enthusiastic, patient, and supportive and possess a sense of humor. To create this atmosphere, the teacher must engage the students as soon as the class commences. The classroom climate established by the teacher can have a major impact on pupils’ motivation levels and attitudes towards learning. Remind students at the start of every lesson that the type of attitude they bring into the classroom will have a huge influence on the learning that takes place during that class (Cullinford, 2003).
Motivation plays a huge role in creating this positive learning atmosphere. According to Erickson (1978) the majority of students respond positively to a well-organized course taught by a motivated and motivating teacher that has a caring genuine interest in what they learn. Erickson (1978) further suggests whatever level of motivation your students bring to the classroom will influence the level of learning. As teachers we need to ask ourselves the question are our students motivated to learn, or are they just encaged in learning and what have we done as teachers to contribute to this? Cluck and Hess (2003) explains that in order to help and motivate learners we need to help them develop their own learning strategies. We can do this by teaching them to how to use their own learning styles, implementing cooperative learning, encourage pupil to choose how they learn, and use techniques informed by multiple intelligences. When this is done pupils showed increased motivation in class work, improved assignment completion, class participation, and engagement in learning. Thus, Cluck and Hess (2003) feel these teaching strategies are positive in improving the student’s attitudes towards learning. They also suggest that the use of extrinsic rewards such as goals, grades, assessment and tangible rewards would be less productive in developing motivation.
Building relationships has lifelong lasting effects for the students and will motivate them to become involved in their learning. If we can build good relationships with our students it will also help them to build good relationships outside of school and when they leave school. There are a number of things that are very important when we are trying to build relationships with our pupils, such as calling the pupils by their first name, try and find out what common interest you hold and make it your business before each class to have a friendly conversation on the topic. According to Regan Morrissey (2012) how the educator creates a positive learning atmosphere is of critical importance in building relationships and encouraging students. Something that contributes to this is the teachers’ manner, their verbal and nonverbal communication and how they move around the classroom. Creating a positive classroom climate shows how much effort you as a teacher feel is worthwhile putting into the lesson. A teacher needs to feel relaxed and confident in their own ability to generate a genuine interest in the lesson. Parents are crucial to building relationships with students and once these relationships are formed we need to be able to maintain them and use them to our advantage. We should use parent/teacher meetings to gain knowledge of our students’ parent and as PE teachers, the parents interests especially in the sporting world. This can provide a foundation we can use to entice these parents to become involved in extracurricular activities. Kyricau (2007) explains the importance of the role of parents and carers and the need for teachers to be able to communicate effectively with parents and carers and to recognise and respect the role that parents and carers can make to the development of pupils’ well-being and to raising pupils’ levels of attainment. Maintaining relationships with the parents also has a massive knock on effect to their siblings as it establishes a relationship for those who may be entering the school in future (Duck and Pittman, 1994).
Communication according to Tubbs et al (2011)) is broadly defined as the “sharing of experience’ with as much as 75% of our entire conscious day being spent engaged in communication. The communication model developed by ibid (2011) suggests communication is a sensitive area and messages between two people can easily be misunderstood as channels and elements of interference can send mixed messages. As communication is such an important part of learning an essential ingredient to becoming a successful and competent teacher is to be an effective communicator. Communication is closely associated with self-identity and Hattie & Timperley (2007) believe it is one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement. Teachers must be aware of their verbal and non-verbal methods of communication with students in order to create an open, productive and honest learning environment. Marzano (2007) believes that communication is the single most critically important issue a teacher has to consider.
A PE teacher needs to be aware of how to communicate both verbally and non-verbally in a high quality manner to maximize the learning of the students. Teachers need to learn how to use such things as eye contact, facial expressions, hand gestures and body language as tools for communication in the classroom. The use of eye contact and facial expressions reduces the amount of verbal communication the teacher has to use in a class and is very useful in such a loud environment as the PE class. The use hand signals can be adopted to relay positive encouragement to students who are doing something well. An example of this is thumbs up or a clap to acknowledge something that a student has done well. To communicate with students we need to be sensitive to their need and listen critically to what they have to say, not thinking of answers until the student has finished the question. A teacher must be able to communicate to their students in order to help them to become independent learners develop their ability to grow and develop responsibly. I’m a firm believer that communicating encouragement, verbally and non-verbally to the students is the best form of motivation. I am conscious on my Monday placements of creating a positive classroom climate by communicating in this manner. I constantly scan the gym, forever interacting, motivating the students, constantly praising and encouraging but with total honest and respect. Respect towards the students is everything and it is almost guaranteed that any student teacher who respects their students will see the students develop a healthy level of respect towards the teacher. Wragg and Wood (1984) suggest that studies have proved how important positive communication is in the first few lessons with a new class. It is crucial to establishing a positive learning environment which has already been discussed as a key factor in developing student motivation.
Listening according to Tubbs et al (2011) is a complex process involving hearing, attention, understanding, and remembering. Gamble and Gamble (1994) further suggest that becoming a competent teacher means we must teach our students to listen stating that ‘Listening is more than a philosophy, it’s vital for our future’. To become an effective teacher we must develop and display strong listening skills to portray to our pupils the importance we place on the process. Listening can be something we take for granted, however listening is an intricate skill and requires training. We in the teaching profession must encourage and provide opportunities for students to practice listening activities and spend more time on this ever important communication skill. A motivated teacher enhances the listening skills of their students and allows students the time and opportunity to develop these listening skills. The question needs to be addressed why we often hear of poor listening as a problem. The primary reasons are a lack of motivation and the appropriate listening skills (Tubbs et al 2011), who state that of the four communication skills reading writing, speaking, and listening, listening has received the least attention from educators.
To become a component, caring teacher I must acquire excellent listening skills. From the readings and from my life experiences I am able to relate to my own personal listening skills especially on the Monday placements. I must pay attention to what the students are saying and not to focus on having an answer before listening to the rest of the question. I must stop answering the questions if the students don’t know the answer, and take time to listen display some aerobic listening and think of CARE, (Concentrate Acknowledge, Respect and Empathize). We as teachers must keep asking questions to our students, and when they speak out, give them the respect to provide your 100% attention. In order to enhance our listening skills we as student teachers are in favorable position on our Monday placement to practice focusing on the message sender and refraining from giving an opinion too quickly. I must respect that listening is a complex process and has to be trained and practiced similar to any skill. I need be patient with the learning process to enable me to pass on the skill of the ability to listen to my students. Aristotle once said that ‘we have two ears and but one tongue so that we may listen more than we speak’. This is something that I will always try to remember in my role as a teacher.
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