The MGW Philosopy...building bridges, connecting cultures
Having an active involvement in the development of opportunities for my learners while studying Spanish as their second language I have made certain commitments. Since anxiety and inhibition are the enemies of language acquisition, I commit to the goal of encouraging and modeling positive attitudes among my students and by reinforcing this outlook by allowing them to enjoy their active learning experience because this is the way I also like to learn.
I believe when students are actively engaged in studying, solving problems, discovering new ways to perceive their world, this learning occurs naturally in a classroom that promotes active learning. To begin to establish an environment of trust and confidence, I help my students develop a family-like community where they learn to rely on each other in their pursuits of studying, learning, and discovering. Through the experience of cooperative learning we keep the small-group context, even when the class size is large. My goal is to create an environment for my students and with my students that promotes active learning. In order to achieve this goal, my students and I are required to commit to a partnership in which we all share a vision of and responsibility for instruction and learning because we realize that we are both learners and meaning-makers. By granting everyone in our learning environment the freedom to make mistakes, to learn from our mistakes, and to feel comfortable about making mistakes I believe that my students begin to understand that we are all learners and meaning-makers. In addition by moving our lessons and activities from the position of teacher-centered learning to student-centered learning when my students take the responsibility to lead the class they experience the feeling and understanding that we are all learners and meaning-makers. After all doing activities teaches us so much more than talking about our lessons. Our active learning requires that we support opportunities for authentic communication and critical pedagogy instead of rote language drills and that we integrate connections from home, community, and culture.
Our authentic communication, critical pedagogy, and personally meaningful learning in our positive, active learning classrooms connect to the learnerís prior knowledge. My approach to teaching involves fostering connections in order to build on their own knowledge base. I find reassurance in learning that cognitive psychologistsí theories are grounded in this concept; that we learn by connecting new knowledge to what we already know. It is both exciting and satisfying to witness my studentsí aha moments through lots of rich clues to meaning, connecting with what they already know. My definition of culture also reflects on what my learners already know.
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