5) Labels and learning maps.
As we get closer to the publication date of ‘If you can’t reach them you can’t teach them. Building effective learning relationships’ this instalment looks at the dangers of labelling and the concept of a learning map.
Question: Why include a chapter on labelling?
Answer: Education loves a label; they are everywhere and used for all manner of things. Whilst some labels are useful such as letting you know where the gym or staff room is located some can be harmful. It was important to me to explore the topic of labels in education and to think about the accountability and the morality of labelling. A quote from chapter 8 on labelling.
‘I want to make a practical association between labelling and PBCF (building effective learning relationships) rather than discuss the many labels and their use in education. In the Further reading section, there are links to Howard Becker’s labelling theory as well as specific education-related articles on labelling. These will enable you to achieve an overview of the wider impact, concerns and issues related to labelling in education.’Taken from: If you can’t reach them you can’t teach them. Building effective learning relationships
It is important that as teachers we reflect on the impact of labels on building learning relationships and I have included several reflective tasks that will encourage you to explore both your own experience of being labelled and the use of labels in learning.
Question: Where did the idea of a learning map come from?
Answer: My book contains several personal reflections, I see these as an opportunity to share my experiences that have informed my thinking. Here is how I came up with the idea of a learning map for chapter 9.
In conversation, pupils will point to examples from their past experiences of learning and what they were and were not able to achieve. I began to think of these as roadblocks to learning and the analogy with a learning map became my way of discussing learning challenges and beliefs with pupils. I discovered that lots of features you will find on a map are analogous to learning. These provided a narrative for talking about learning in a practical and almost physical way. Together the pupils and I were able to discuss learning barriers and opportunities in the same way as you would the physical topography of a map. The concept of the learning map had developed.Taken from: If you can’t reach them you can’t teach them. Building effective learning relationships
In this chapter I not only suggest how the terminology applied to maps and mapping can be applied to learning but also many of the road signs and symbols in everyday use. Another important point about maps is that they can be and often are redrawn as more information or insights become available. This is an excellent narrative to use in approaching the concept of a growth mindset with pupil. There is a direct link back to the Learning Hero’s Journey too. You will be encouraged to reflect on your own learning journey and draw a part of your learning map.
Nearly there – the next instalment will look at the all important aspect of time management and John’s 12 rules.