How do students best learn?

In my experience, students learn when they are respected, challenged, and motivated.  When they are provided a safe space to come and explore meanings and issues through literature (which for some is their only access to other places), then they can really grow and mature intellectually.

My role in facilitating learning is to provide that space.  I find that by establishing and modeling respect, with the clear expectation that no bullying, mocking, or ridiculing of ideas is permitted, students flourish.  My role, after this, is to teach background of the literary text, as well as provide common tools with which to approach it, then the students are able to more easily access meanings.  Once students have had the opportunity to wrestle with the materials, through peer- and self-evaluation, the work of refining their skills can take place.  This is, by no means, a one-time event, but happens fluidly and repeatedly through my time with them and beyond.