Classroom Behavior: Is it good, or is it LEARNING?

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This week I ran across a blog that introduced me to a new phrase, which I now love:  behavior for learning.  The writer differentiates between 'good behavior' and the types of behavior necessary for learning to occur.  His point:  when a child sits quietly and follows the teacher's instructions, she is being 'good'....but is she really learning?

I read the blog with a smile on my face, envisioning the four-year-olds I work with at the piano.  Their behavior is inquisitive, energetic, often loud, mostly messy.  Our piano lessons are the opposite of what I've been told to call 'good' behavior.  And yet, if the attending parent expresses concern that the child is 'not paying attention' or is 'acting out', my response is: Great! 

My overall philosophy of teaching and learning: Let's get our hands dirty, let's make a mess, please--anybody?--let us have an experience.  There is, after all, a difference between 'out-of-control' behavior and 'engaged' behavior, and engaged behavior is what I want.  Always.  It's behavior for learning, and learning is my goal.

Messy energetic learning might be easy enough to envision when considering four-year-olds, but what about our college classrooms?  Is it possible to create a classroom where college student behavior expresses learning, for learning, is learning?  And if so, is it valuable to do so?

 If we answer YES, then the remaining question is: How? 

In other words: 

What is required from you, the instructor,

in order to see behavior for learning in your classroom?

[We love to think about this stuff, so let us know how we can think about it with you!  And, look for upcoming workshops regarding active learning strategies and community building...]

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