Friday, May 20, 2016

Teaching Beyond the Classroom: Teachers Influencing Students' Attitude to Learning - Report on Maria Araxi Sachpazian & Manolis Kontovas's Session

The presentation took place in a fully packed room, not at all to my surprise. Both the ever-interesting topic and presenters attracted many participants. Maria and Manolis started off their presentation by illustrating the different representations of learning. So, learning may be perceived as just an act of “filling vessels”, it can be delivered by an authoritarian and punishing teacher, who is the only source of knowledge, or even be considered just as a test-taking process. It may be part of a CLIL based curriculum or it may involve an engaged classroom. These perceptions vary because the educational values have changed over time. On the one hand, learning is an internal affair, and it depends to a point on intrinsic motivation but, on the other hand, extrinsic motivation and the emotional side of learning, which can result in the building of bonds between the teacher and the students, play an important part in the process of learning. What we call the “affective filter factor” can make a difference not only in the learning itself, but also in the attitudes students form towards learning.

                                                                                                                                                                      Photo by Maria P. Vlachopoulou

Manolis went on to explain how he uses Minecraft to engage his students and help them learn while having fun. Students play without even realizing that at the same time they also learn all about planning and  time management, how to make efficient use of their time and effort, and last but not least they learn how to be creative and use their skills in order to make something. Also, humour, another way to build rapport with one’s students was widely discussed.  The use of humour in the classroom can empower learners, help them think out of the box, create interest, enhance self-esteem, promote willingness to work, emphasize socialization and mould behaviours. Then participants were asked to share their ideas on how they try to connect with their students and build bonds. Many ideas were mentioned such as following classroom rituals, sharing videos, songs etc. that could raise the students’ interest and so on. Maria also mentioned creating a closed Facebook group where students and the teacher can communicate and post things that can interest one another.  In general, what was made perfectly clear is what our students want from us and what can certainly strengthen personal relationships: clarity, pacing, variety and room.

                                                                                                                 Photo by Maria P. Vlachopoulou

Although all these sound so good, there are often things that get in the way and do not allow us to do what is needed in order to build stronger relationships with our students. So, what gets in the way?  Time, or materials we have to cover, tiredness which sometimes increases the distance between the teacher and students. Lessons deprived of feelings. 

What can certainly help is to share positive feelings with our students. Offer our students chances for success, not failure! Believe in them! The teacher’s expectations can increase the students’ performance. A sense of belonging, empathy, comradery and a sense of shared purpose create a safe environment in which students can thrive! Learning becomes memorable, personalized, enriched and students can take responsibility for their own learning. The teacher can teach “learning to learn” strategies, get students to brainstorm, revise strategies and evaluate. Regular tutorials can be organized during which the student is respected, in a non-judgmental environment, can self-assess and the teacher can review and discuss performance. This promotes better communication. 

                                                                                                               Photo by Maria P. Vlachopoulou
The presentation was closed with a very touching video on YouTube “You never forget a good teacher”, , which brought tears to everybody’s eyes and was the perfect end to a wonderful presentation!

Report by Maria Vlachopoulou


  1. Very nice article..Thanks for sharing this article.
    I appreciate your Great post and Thanks for sharing this awesome informationPublic Risk Management Association Conference

  2. In my opinion, all parents should prefer preschool education as it has got immense significance. Being a mother of twins, I think preschool is essential for their early education. Even I am looking for a reputed Phoenix preschool for my kids.