Thatís why I love my job
As an education specialist, dog trainer and Director of Canine Comprehension, I believe we need to widen the perspectives of our students and offer them tools so they can mentally get to a place where they are calm and ready to learn.
Learning needs to be fun. We have all been a student watching the clock while the teacher drones on and on. Our classes are fun, creative and memorable because a well trained dog is present encouraging the learning process. It’s amazing how a dog can be used in the classroom to encourage a focus on learning. Examples are:
- Dogs help create a calm learning environment. In the same way as therapists use dogs in therapy, a dog in the classroom tends to focus students attention and encourages them to listen to the teacher.
- Dogs can be used as a tool for understanding cognitive development. Students are less likely to maintain their inspiration, motivation and resilience in the face of challenges when they do not understand their own learning process. There are many similarities between a canine and human learning, I am able to make those connections. By teaching students how to teach a dog a trick, they are able to reflect on their own learning challenges.
- Dogs are fantastic at teaching students about compassion and fairness. Developers of such programs report that students can identify with animals, empathise with a dog and can better understand how classmates may feel.
- Dogs can be used as encouragement and motivation. By promising the presence of a dog in the classroom as a reward, students are able to work towards a goal. When the dog comes into the classroom, students are able to show them the activity they had been working on, promoting gratitude, self-confidence, optimism and a deep sense of fulfilment.
There are many, many ways the presence of a dog promotes student attrition, concentration, motivation and confidence. Researches have confirmed dogs can improve the learning and development of students. Students often form stronger bonds with dogs than people and because of this fact, dogs can be used as a conduit in closing the gaps when students are showing issues relating to literacy, empathy and self-control.
Canine Comprehension is bringing rigour, professionalism and cognitive understanding as well as AAI dogs. The point of difference is that when schools work with Canine Comprehension they are working with a professional who has a solid background working with young people and is also a certified AAI dog handler, with years of handling experience.
I am lucky that I have managed to combine working with dogs and my love of teaching young people together. The best bit of my job is when I make a connection with a student who has been struggling to understand.
That 'lightbulb moment' doesn't just reflect understanding then and there - it will act as an illumination, helping the student find connections and light when learning is difficult in the future. They remember a time when they 'got it' and they work to have that feeling again. Those 'lightbulb moments' create lifelong learners - and THAT'S why I love my job!