4) Our 4 learning engagement needs PBCF

This is part four of ‘If you can’t reach them you can’t teach them’ and the topics it covers.

Question: What impact do our learning needs have on how we behave as learners?

Answer: William Glasser has said “All we can do from birth to death is behave” and the more you think about it the more obvious it becomes that any relationship triggers behaviours. Maslow recognised a set of needs too from physiological through to self-actualisation.  What I have done in chapter 4 is to look at needs in the context of learning and focused on the four that have the greatest impact on the pupil-teacher learning relationship and therefore learner behaviours.  

As a teacher you will recognise types of pupil behaviour but to fully understand how pupils feel when these needs are not being met and how they behave as a result you must relate them to your own experience. There are reflective exercises in chapter 4 that will help you do just that.

Question: What types of behaviours might we see if our learning needs are not being met?

Answer: By taking the time to reflect on pupil behaviour rather than just respond to it you will recognise the four needs and what each creates in terms of behaviour.  This approach forms the heart of the book.  The four are needs and typical behaviour when not met are described and discussed. There is even an opportunity to take part in an exercise that will cause you to experience having needs denied.  This section concludes by offering you suggested supportive actions to build learning relationships.

Question: How can I ensure I remember to meet learner needs and build them into my practice?

Answer: Ellen Langer wrote about mindful learning, a term that resonated with me as a teacher and so I have taken it a little further and chapter 6 explores the concept and impact of mindful learning and teaching.   

In teaching, being mindful is a way of ensuring you embed changes to your approach to learning and teaching, taking every opportunity to build effective learning relationships and meet the four learning needs. It means you do not wear yourself out and you do not limit your pupils’ potential; instead, you foster creativity and raise standards. Essentially you are mindful of your own needs and those of your pupils.

Kevin Hewitson. If you can’t reach them you can’t teach them

Question: Does a mindful approach not need more work and resources?

Answer: No, all you need is a change of mindset. The chapter gives examples of mindless learning and teaching from asking questions to planning and includes case studies and tasks to raise your awareness.  It also looks at some of the myths that surround learning, myths that ask teachers to do things that have little impact or possibly a negative impact on building effective learning relationships.  

Question: How do pupils respond to mindful learning and teaching

Answer: In my experience they are a little unsure to start with. Mindful teaching is one of those steps towards supporting independent learning, something that has been sought in teaching for some time.  Chapter 7 asks “What are independent learners, and do you want them in your classes?”

You must consider the independent learner within the context of your learning relationship with them. You will need to take into account the learning environment you have created through PBCF and your mindful approach as well as the skills, attributes and behaviours of the pupil and their past experiences of learning.  Chapter 7 will take you through these considerations and look at a knowledge based versus learning focused curriculum examples as well as touching on some of the debated issues around learning styles.

Next: In the next instalment the dangers of labels and of labelling learners raises its head.

5) Labels and learning maps.

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About AcEd

"4c3d" (AcEd) is the abbreviation for Advocating Creativity in education, a company I set up to challenge how we think about and deliver education. The blog champions my concept of Learning intelligence, how we manage our learning environment to meet our learning needs as well as detailing those needs: Power Belonging, Choice and Fun - PBCF. Kevin Hewitson 2019

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