two people learning together at a table

Originally published January 29

Zaretta Hammond attended the University of California, Berkeley and New York University where she got her B.A in English literature. She then went on to get her masters in English Education. Today, she is an education consultant and the author of Culturally Responsive Teaching & the Brain. Hammond advocates for a culturally responsive learning environment. She believes that all children can become strong, independent learners. To aid this goal, she relies on four distinct areas: awareness, information processing, community of learners & learning environment, and learning partnerships. But, what are learning partnerships, why do we use them, and how do we translate them into the classroom?

The learning partnerships model promotes a teacher-student relationship that is based off of authenticity, trust and care. The goal is to transform dependent learners into independent learners who develop their own beliefs. Once the student views the teacher as trustworthy, it is time to push them into their zone of proximal development (ZPD). Essentially, this is the difference between a student learning without instruction versus learning with guidance. The additional help and encouragement allows students to master skill they can’t attain individually and grow more brainpower. Increased brain power corresponds to the ability to understand more rigorous work at a deeper level.

The graphic below differentiates what a learning environment looks like with versus without learning partnerships.

How learning partnerships positively affect the learning environment.