Supporting Neuro-diverse Learners through Engagement
Use of positive psychology in teaching practices can take you to that next level of supporting all learners. Cooperative learning, often linked to Positive Psychology and building collaborative skills within the classroom is a tool that supports all learners, especially students coined as “neuro-diverse”.
Cooperative learning supports student engagement, avoiding the didactic passive way to teach students. On the contrary and by the very name of this strategy, it is meant to promote collaboration and an exchange of ideas among students. Students can work in mixed ability/readiness groups to further enrich learning. By no means is this a way to replace good teaching, it is just a way to enhance.
Such a strategy seeks to address the pangs associated with achievement culture and unhealthy competitiveness that tend to show itself more in traditional classrooms. Using CL as a strategy allows for students to work together to achieve one common goal. In CL students can showcase the different strategies /ways of thinking they use to address a problem, in pursuit of the common goal.
But wait! There are a few things you may want to consider before putting CL into practice for an optimal experience.
What is the ‘climate’ or temperature of the learning environment in my class? Do students feel comfortable and safe to make mistakes in my class? Do students have the ‘opportunity’ to ‘get it wrong’ in my class? Not sure? Try introducing a low stakes aspect of a lesson where ultimately students have to struggle some to come up with the approach or response to solving the problem posed. See how they respond not only to you… but to one another. If they are a bit uncomfortable but resilient in trying to find the answer together then they may be ready for CL.
Cooperative learning can help students to learn from each other and develop their own EQs. In essence, it serves as a holistic educational approach that pushes the boundaries of a traditional classroom setting. Additionally, the social emotional benefits are boundless! It not only enriches academic understanding, promotes risk-taking, and using transferable skills that can support them beyond the classroom.