“S” is for September and Supportive Teaching Environments, by Marilena Pevreall

“I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.” — Winston Churchill 

How can teachers create a supportive environment conducive to learning? 

Support is an intricate part of teaching, and this became more apparent during the pandemic with multiple articles discussing several ways that teachers can support their students: 

  • “8 ways in which teachers can support pupils” 
  • “Five areas where teachers can support student learning” 
  • “Seven ways in which teachers and senior leaders can support student learning”  
  • “20 ways to support students with learning difficulties” 

Support seems to always be associated with a number. Does support stop when you reach the end of your numerical list or is it about something greater than any number can indicate? 

 There is a fine line between student accountability and success. A supportive teacher understands this. Support is not about ‘spoon feeding’ although many times we tend to confuse the two. Supporting the least academically inclined students proves to be more of a struggle, even though these are the students that will gain the most (this is a discussion for a different time). 

Teachers are facilitators of learning and with this comes the responsibility of creating a supportive environment that will allow learning to take place. 

A great skill shared by many good teachers, is to be able to identify what motivates their learners and strive to create opportunities that align their intrinsic motivational factors with the given classroom task. 

A supportive environment is one that is rooted in high expectations of all learners.  At the same time, a teacher creating such a space needs to be aware and display sensitivity towards individual character traits, cultures, and emotions. 

Great learning can be achieved in such an environment as it allows students to tap into their inner motivation and drive. 

By Marilena Pevreall

Head of Secondary School Teacher Training, University of Buckingham

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