Students teach themselves and our obligation is to provide an environment that can facilitate their doing so—one that is conducive to learning and extends beyond the classroom. In this chapter we will consider some of the characteristics of such an environment as well as some of the ways that each can be created, facilitated, and/or augmented. The order in which the characteristics are dealt with is mostly an arbitrary one and, consequently, doesn’t necessarily indicate the amount that each impacts on learning.
Many of the students we interviewed mentioned that it’s difficult for them to learn when they have a teacher whom they don’t regard as being fair, warm, and caring. A few of them, in fact, commented that one of the most valuable things they learned from a particular teacher was the importance of being fair, warm, and/or caring in professional interpersonal relationships.
If you are a person who is fair, warm and caring, you’ll obviously want to communicate being so to your students. You do this by interacting with them, both inside and outside of the classroom, in ways that are likely to convey this message. There are a number of do’s and don’ts for doing so in Chapters 12 and 15.
For establishing an environment conducive to learning, positive reinforcement would translate into encouragement and punishment into dis-