Developing Learning Intelligence
This article is the start of looking at the skills and strategies you can use and develop when managing your learning environment effectively to meet your learning needs. Let’s start by asking a question.
Where do you start if you want to develop your LQ?
I said earlier that you need an understanding of your learning needs and of your learning environment if you are to deploy your LQ effectively. It is critical that you are able to identify the elements of your learning environment that are both supportive of your learning needs and those which inhibit your learning. If you are not able to discern those things that are inhibiting or limiting your ability to learn then two things result. The first is in the drawing of your learning map where you begin to put up fences or create boundaries as to what you can and cannot learn. The second outcome results from the conflict between your needs and your sense of empowerment, your inability to do something about the situation you are in. Many refer to this as “stress” and I would go along with this description. We get stressed when no one listens to us, we feel as though we have no power to influence what is happening to us. I strongly believe that stress causes us to withdraw and limits our ability to learn.
Having a voice
Remember power is one of the four essential learning needs I mentioned earlier. Learning how to have a voice and to communicate with others, especially with anyone who is directing the learning is essential. This is not always easy for the learner in a school environment where a teacher only sees their responsibility as the deliverer of lessons. The relationship between teacher and student is very important in this regard. Once again I return to the four needs and this time we are touching on the need to belong. A teacher who does not listen to their students is not one who is teaching. In such circumstances I would suggest that they are merely delivering. A student who asks or challenges the teacher needs to do so in different ways depending on the relationship they have with the teacher (one aspect of the learning environment). Where there is a sense of belonging I would expect to find trust and of empathy. A teacher who displays these traits is often more approachable and likely to listen to their students’ needs and respond accordingly. For the learner being able to find ways of expressing their learning needs and describe any conflict with their learning environment is essential if they are to develop their LQ. We cannot underestimate the size of this challenge for the learner.
A word to teachers
A teacher who sees requests, questions, and enquiries about how they are being taught from learners as a personal challenge will do nothing to develop LQ in their students. Further they will do nothing to develop a sense of belonging either. The outcome is predictable, and I would suggest where the learner has a degree of confidence and is willing to challenge, nothing less than confrontational. Where the learner is mainly compliant we may not see any signs of the learning need not being met other than a lack of understanding or progress on the part of the learner as they internally re draw their learning map. It is essential that the teacher understands the concept of LQ and can empathise with the learner. A good way to do this is to place yourself in a learning environment which is different to that which you are used to. To learn something new whilst reflecting on the challenges you face and how you overcome them will help develop the empathy needed to develop LQ in your students.
Of the twelve skills and attributes I believe you need for developing LQ I want to start with:
What this means for the learner
Approaching a teacher is not always the easiest thing to do and some teachers are more approachable than others. Here are some strategies you can use to open up a discussion about your learning needs.
- Find a teacher you can approach, this could be your form teacher, and ask them to help you in talking to the teacher who is managing or directing the learning environment in which you feel uncomfortable.
- Be specific about what it is you need from the teacher to help you learn better. Think of a win/win situation. Learning easier means better learning and quicker progress. Think and talk about EBQ!
- Talk with friends about what you are learning in class, they may have the same problems and together you could approach the teacher. There is strength in numbers.
- Ask to talk to the teacher at a time when they have more time to listen to your needs and not just as they are clearing away or you are leaving. These are often pressured times for a teacher as they get ready for the next class.
- Try writing to the teacher to explain the problems you are having. The fact that you have taken the time to put your thoughts down on paper will impress many teachers.
What this means for the teacher
The golden rule is to be ready to listen and not to judge or jump to conclusions. It can take a lot for a student to approach you and they may do so in the most obscure way. Much depends on the sense of belonging you have created and the manner of approach will be greatly influenced by how successful you have been. Please be aware of the following and be ready to respond in a positive way. Remember, for the most timid learner, it may have taken weeks to build up the courage to speak to you.
- Be approachable and that means being calm on the surface, even if paddling like heck below the surface.
- Think about what emotions you are conveying. Always smile when approached, no matter how you feel.
- Be aware that not all approaches follow the same pattern. A slight reluctance to leave or hanging back a little could be all there is to suggest a learner wants to talk.
- Learn to differentiate between the four basic needs and learning needs. A student who wants your attention may not be actually seeking help. Instead they may be trying to meet some of their basic needs, especially fun, power and belonging.
This sixth article and if you have been reading the earlier posts you may have decided if LQ is a way of overcoming some of the challenges in learning or not. I would welcome your comments or views about LQ. Answering people’s questions about LQ and exploring their views is a great way of refining how I present the concept of LQ to others.
The next post will be on the 28th of August and will explore problem based learning as a way of managing your learning environment.