Studying Psychology at University I learnt about the wonderful world inside a child’s mind and what motivates their behaviour to want to learn. Through learning about the wants and needs of a child I have been fortunate to develop an insight into the world through a child’s eyes. Here at The Arcadia Preparatory School, we adapt our teaching and environment to suit individual needs and inspire each individual to reach their full potential.
I believe Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to be a great model for understanding what motivates children’s behaviour. Abraham Maslow developed a five-tiered model to explain human needs. This pyramid shaped diagram is explained by starting at the bottom level and working your way up through the levels to reach the top. If the needs on one level are not complete you cannot progress to the next level.
Being aware of Maslow’s Hierarchy is in the best interests of both the teacher and the pupils. Understanding the hierarchy has added structure to both the lessons and the classroom environment. If the psychological needs of a child have not been met, as a teacher you have to understand that the pupil would not be able to focus on learning. Teachers are then aware of the necessity to make arrangements to help that pupil in whatever way is needed. Pupils are happiest and will work best if their needs are being met so as a teacher it is vital to know what these needs are and how to go about meeting them.
Meeting the physiological needs in the classroom
Here at Arcadia we structure our classrooms, teaching and school day to aid the needs of the child. Research shows that that there are many benefits to having well- hydrated pupils. Not only for survival of the hot climate of Dubai school life but also for learning purposes, to help the child to focus and remain on task. We therefore ensure that water bottles are present at all times for the children to have free access to water. Children are also regularly reminded to drink and take water breaks especially after break times. We are also a healthy school so by ensuring the children stop for healthy snack breaks, they are able to sustain energy throughout the morning. Our school lunches are also nutritious and make sure the children receive a balanced diet.
We monitor the climate of our classrooms to make sure this is at the correct temperature for learning and that children are not too hot or too warm. The noise level in the classroom can also be a huge distraction to pupils and will affect their concentration. We therefore ensure a quiet, peaceful classroom to promote learning. In foundation stage, pupils enter the classroom to quiet instrumental music so that they are starting their day in a calm, positive way.
Stability, safety and security, freedom from fear
Arcadia has been designed and built to offer a safe, secure environment for children to learn and play together. Our outside facilities are fantastic for exploring and aiding children to develop their skills. We have many security members who on site at all times. The children in FS2 have developed a great relationship with the security guard standing next to our classroom. They are often seen running outside to give him a ‘high five’. This makes our children feel safe and secure in our building and will maximise their learning.
During PSHE lessons, children learn the value of friendships, communicating with one another and understanding their own emotions. We encourage pupils to tell us how they are feeling and ways in which we can help or help themselves to feel better. We also help them to work through fall-outs with their friends to develop their social skills and aid their school life.
Sense of belonging
As a teacher one does one’s very best to include every child, to not only help their learning, but to make them feel involved, part of the class. During the first few weeks of beginning a new class, I always ensure I get to know each child in my class individually. Learning their likes/dislikes, interests and develop a relationship with them so that I understand them as individuals. This not only aids their learning, as I am able to bring their interests to the classroom to motivate and engage them, but helps me to understand when they are ‘not themselves’. Here at Arcadia we help our children feel that they belong by wearing our school uniform and PE kit. We also listen to children’s ideas and what they would like to see in our school or classrooms. As the school continues to grow we will continue to listen to our children to help the school develop further.
Achievement, recognition and self-esteem
We take a very positive approach to learning Arcadia. We have adopted a whole school approach to positive behaviour through our class dojo system. We praise children’s successes, no matter how small. This positive behaviour is then reinforced and likely to be repeated. During university I learnt that for every negative comment you say to a child you have to say 8 good things to counteract it. This has taught me to recognise the way one should speak to children to protect their self-esteem and help them to understand their own behaviour. In years 1 to 4 (FS hope to join later in the school year) we hold celebration assemblies to show off our success in class and give pupils the recognition they deserve. Mr Beale and Miss Sherry encourage pupils to come to them to show them their work. This was also demonstrated on our ‘Roald Dahl’ day where pupils received golden tickets for their work, which was then exchanged for a huge well done and a lollipop. As a teacher it is very rewarding to see the big smiles on their faces when they know they have done well and are proud of themselves.
Self-actualisation and self-fulfillment of needs
This final level is where children begin to explore and model, designing, evaluating and analysing information outside of our own basic needs. To become creative thinkers, we have to begin discovering the problem, not just coming up with a solution. In this tier, pupils become self-assessors and self-reflectors. They are able to see and understand how their actions, thoughts and feelings affect all lives. Teachers help their pupils to develop the necessary skills to self-evaluate their work. We asked them how they feel about their work and help them to self-evaluate. This self-reflection helps them to improve their work/behaviour in the future and enables them to continue to grow.
At Arcadia, we are striving to become one of the best British school in Dubai and our teachers emphasize on character development of every pupil. If you have any feedback, please do not hesitate to write or visit our school in Jumeirah Village Triangle.