Tag Archive | Education

10th Festival of Education

This year, actually on Thursday the 20th of June, I will be speaking at the 10th Festival of Education.  I have attended the festival in previous years and enjoyed listening to the broad range of speakers and exploring some very interesting topics. So what am I talking about?

The title of my talk is “Closing the Achievement Net”.

Not all that clear perhaps so here is a breakdown:

  • The session will start by reflecting on the types of learners we find in our classrooms and how they respond to learning challenges.
  • A discussion of the ‘teacher/learner relationship’ will help identify the key elements, after ‘safety’, for building effective learning relationships.
  • We will also look at typical behaviours when these elements are lacking encouraging us to see them as symptoms of need and respond accordingly
  • Each of the four elements, (Power, Belonging, Choice and Fun) will be discussed in practical teaching terms in order to identify opportunities to build and strengthen them in our lessons and around school.

In preparation for the talk I have run this past a number of people, and I have been surprised by some of the comments, so much so I thought I would highlight a few issues that I think need explaining and that I will need to address in my talk.

  1.  What net? The ’net’ is a metaphor of course but what am I hoping to catch? Well I am hoping by ‘closing the achievement net’ we will ensure that we acknowledge all learners and that we create an environment that positively promotes learner engagement.
  2. Types of learners. I am not referring to terms like “learning styles” or “multiple intelligences” I will be using three very practical identifiable types taken from an analysis of school reporting and teacher comments over a number of years. In defining the learner types my focus is on ‘learner approach’ and ‘potential’.
  3. Language, it appears that not all words mean the same to all people and we need to be mindful of the context in which we have both heard and used them. The word “Fun” for example is the “F” part of PBCF which I claim is essential in the teaching and learning relationship. One teacher said I am not hear to entertain and tell jokes and I agree so what do I mean by “fun”? This is something I will be careful to explain along with other words I have used like “effective”.
  4. The possible mix up between symptoms and behaviours. I see behaviours as symptoms of a need or needs. If I buy a bottle of water this is a behaviour that is symptomatic of needing to quench my thirst.

If you are attending the Festival then I hope you are able to come along to my workshop on Thursday (14:15 in Maths 3) or say hello during the day, if not then I will be publishing the slides and notes from the day.

Kevin Hewitson

Why I miss teaching

Teacher and Class 3
Why I miss teaching and the reasons many leave the profession is that their needs are not being met.

“It’s better than sliced bread” was my reply in September 1977 when my dad asked me about my first teaching job. I was at the ‘chalk face’ for almost 33 years, that was eight years ago, and a lot has changed about the ‘job’ of teaching but not the fundamental aspects of teaching.

I have considered making a list of the things that I miss and I may still do that but really it all comes down to relationships and needs. Two things most people will say they get from their job along with a sense of satisfaction, of doing something well or worthwhile.

There is something special about relationships in teaching that is different, let me try to explain.

I know that in many careers that are ‘front facing’, in contact with the customer or public, there is a relationship that needs to be built if you are to be successful and teaching is no different in that regard.  What is different is the nature of that relationship and it is unique. I call it a ‘learning relationship’, one where over time you built trust in you as the teacher, you build confidence and self-esteem within your students, you set them challenges and support their efforts, you offer encouragement and praise, you guide their learning and you celebrate success together.  Coaching or mentoring may offer the same relationship but not on the same scale or with the same degree of challenge.

Meeting a teacher’s needs

It is this teacher/learner relationship that is better than sliced bread and that I miss the most for it satisfied some of my needs too. So what of my needs and why does teaching satisfy these needs?

The job of a teacher is strange in that collectively we may plan, resource and review but as for the ‘doing’ bit we do this alone more often than not. It is a case of you, the professional teacher, and the pupils in your care in a room together, often with the door shut for single or multiple lessons or even whole school days at a time. Once with those pupils it is a ‘full-on’ job, hundreds of instinctive decisions to make, constant observations and assessments to make, strategies to weigh up and those learning relationships to build. When it goes well you bounce out of that session full of energy and when it does not you reflect in a more sombre mood wanting to know why. Either way you share what happened with your colleagues, telling them of your achievement or listening for advice that will guide you. It is within this ‘interpreted dance’ that I find my needs met.

My needs are best described as a set of characteristics and I am sure these are shared with many teachers.

  • I am a learner, hard to be a teacher and not be,
  • I am creative and love a challenge,
  • I like responsibility and autonomy, and
  • I thrive on the energy that comes of working with others.

Having your personal needs met is what draws you to a role, to a career, and so it is with me.

You may be wondering why I am no longer at the ‘chalk face’, why I did not continue with my career as a teacher since I loved it so much and continue to miss it. Well I am still a teacher, it’s hard not to be, but not in a school or employed as one.

There are many things that have changed about the role of a teacher since 1977 and for me those changes increasingly limited my opportunity to build learning relationships, limited my creativity and autonomy as well as drawing on my energy in a way that had a profound effect on my health.

You are not fulfilled if your needs are not being met.

What we need to ensure that we recruit and retain teachers is simple – we need to ensure that they are fulfilled. Anything that limits or hinders this should be removed from the ‘job’ of teaching.

Recruitment and retention is simple

In my opinion, if we are to recruit and retain teachers we need to address the environment that is ‘need’ limiting. Teachers leave the profession for a number of reasons but they are also willing to put up with a lot if they are able to build effective learning relationships and have their needs met. The debate is not about workload, pay or hours, it is about being able to build learning relationships and meeting needs on a deeply personal level.

Lesson Planning 101

 

challenge magic

It may appear simple to say that there has to be a beginning, middle and end but is important that we do not miss any of these stages and they must be in balance.

I have known lessons where the beginning went on too long, or where there is not enough time for the students to engage or immerse themselves in the learning or there was not enough time at the end of the lesson to conclude it in a meaningful way. Get it right and lessons are meaningful, full of learning and there is a great teacher/learner relationship. Get it wrong and lessons are often characterised by boredom or conflict and challenge.

The risk of poor lesson planning

I have experienced lesson planning pro-forma that seek to address these issues but become so prescriptive that they do not allow for the natural dynamics of a lesson and risk creating the same outcome they are trying to avoid.

There is a simple but effective way to ensure lesson planning creates the type of lesson we would ideally like in our teaching and that is to plan a lesson as a learner and not as a teacher.

Think about how, as a learner, you would like the lesson structured and the pace or balance of the lesson. As a learner, you would like time to become familiar with the learning challenge, time to explore or practice and to establish your understanding and then to have an opportunity to consolidate the learning or perhaps ask questions to further your understanding. These stages should characterise the beginning, middle and end of a lesson. The ‘mindful’ teacher addresses these needs in their planning and delivery.

Power Belonging Choice and Fun in lesson planning

Planning lessons around subject material is only one aspect of the planning, we need to consider the learner needs too. I define these needs as power, belonging, choice and fun and suggest we ignore them at our peril. Within a calm learning environment, a teacher needs to lead, to guide their students not to push them or over-regulate their behaviour and we can do this if we meet their learning needs. In doing so we can create effective learning relationships and improve learning outcomes.

The beginning, middle and end

Meeting learning needs (power, belonging, choice and fun) is important at the start, during and at the end of all lessons. Addressing them in our planning will help us create the engagement we are looking for as well as creating effective relationships. A relationship that allows for that dynamic of being able to respond to the unexpected teaching and learning challenges in a meaningful way without disrupting the lesson flow. We may on such occasions leave the subject content planning path but by doing so we will better support our learners because we are meeting their needs.

The start of a lesson should include how we are going to meet the need for belonging. Perhaps the greeting and arrival are ideal opportunities to do so. Offering guided choice and listening to the ‘student voice’ can be included too during the lesson. Linking fun to achievement is our greatest challenge and we must include opportunities to celebrate learning at the end.

“Please be child friendly”

My way of remembering learning needs is simple and apt. “Please Be Child Friendly” when planning and teaching. The graphic is also something you can print off and keep at hand.

A different way of looking at teaching and learning

PBCF is part of an approach to teaching I refer to as “Learning Intelligence”, or “LQ” for short, and looks at how the learner and teacher can manage the learning environment to promote better learning and improve learning relationships. If you are interested in LQ or just PBCF then get in touch I am more than happy to talk you through how, with only small changes, the approach can make a significant impact on teaching and learning.

LQ+PBCF latest

LQ and a Learning Mindset

Part 1

Our beliefs, values and experience amongst other things impact how successful we are when we undertake tasks. How we behave when involved in activities is also influenced by similar things but perhaps also our nature or disposition. Some people are regarded as naturally positive, a ‘glass half full’ attitude to life whilst others may be regarded as suspicious, conservative, inflexible etc.

Put together a number of people with a ‘leader’ (in education terms think ‘teacher’) and those individual dispositions will determine behaviours which in turn will influence both the process and outcome of any commonly undertaken task or activity. There will be views on the ‘right way’ or ’best way’ to do something and people will adopt ‘positions’. This is something recognised by Edward deBono in his book on a method of thinking, the  “Six Thinking Hats” [i] In my work to bring a tangible consciousness to LQ I continue to explore the wider landscape on thinking, this is one such exploration.

Six Hat Thinking

Edward deBono makes some interesting claims for his approach based on a perceptive observation about thinking which as a learner and teacher I can relate to. He suggests “The main difficulty of thinking is confusion” and that “emotions, information, logic, hope and creativity, all crowd in on us”. As it is with using the six thinking hats so it is in the adoption of a learning mindset through the LQ approach. “He or she becomes able to separate emotions from logic, creativity from information and so on

He goes on to say that “Within the Six Hats method, the intelligence, experience and knowledge of all the members of a group are fully used.”

There are parallels here too with LQ.

With the mindsets of LQ an individual’s intelligence, experience and knowledge are used effectively along with the awareness of emotions such thinking promotes.

Further, he says that in the same way “it is totally absurd that a person should hold back information or a point of view because revealing it would weaken his or her argument” I believe it is absurd for a learner to hold back a question for fear it would make them look stupid.

In exploring the nature of thinking associated with each of the six along with the benefits this approach brings I have become aware of how a similar approach, that of adopting learning mindsets, a direction of thinking when faced with a learning challenge can improve our learning.

In the next part of this article I will describe the six different hats and begin to show how we can develop similar mindsets so that as the thinking of a group can be enhanced, so can the learning of an individual.

[i]  Edward deBono. 2000:  Six Thinking Hats.  Penguin Books

The Teacher. Are they the only redeeming feature of the educational environment in our schools?

It is fair to say not all learners thrive in the educational environment that we call “school”. Some of the students who pass through school without achieving much do much better once they leave. Have you ever thought about why this happens?

Do we instead of investigating and remedying this situation allow ourselves to believe that there is nothing we can do about it? We may believe that more than enough reform, inspection and restructuring has taken place and that we are helpless in creating the change needed. We may wonder what a single teacher could do that politician, think-tanks, and significant financial leverage cannot.  Here is what I believe we can do to help every learner thrive in our schools.

Reflecting on my time as a teacher there has always been those students who do well in school and those who don’t but then go on to have great success in learning once they leave. We may say, and many have, that they eventually wake up to the necessity of a good education and knuckle down to it. Whilst this may be true along with other reasons, such as those I have listed below, it does not change the fact that some students don’t do well in the school environment.

Here are some of the reasons given by teachers for students not doing well at school that I have come across:-

  • they were lazy at school, did not make an effort
  • they mixed with the ‘wrong crowd’
  • they were too easily distracted by what was going on around them
  • had too much absence or were always late

Having thought about these and other reasons I have begun to see them as ‘behaviours’ that are symptoms of a problem rather than the cause of one. For example, we are know to be able to make an effort when we can access something that interests us and that we can sustain focus for extended periods of time when doing so. Sir Ken Robinson talks of being in your ‘element’ but I believe it is more than that, at least initially.

Sometimes a change of school brings a change in the learner, they begin to engage and often their learning improves.  Given that this happens we could ask is it really the school environment since all we have done is swap one for the other, it is still a school environment under the same influences and controls.  There are more than likely many reasons why students suddenly start doing well after a period of languishing in the bottom so to trying to find a single one is questionable and, in most cases, I would agree – except! There is something that in my own experience explains most, if not all of the ‘turnarounds’  and that is the effect of the teacher-learner relationship.

Ask any student if they had a favourite teacher and the answer is more than likely “Yes”, even if overall they did not do well at school. Without a doubt, a teacher makes a significant difference to the learning experience.  I was once ‘tracked down’ by an ex-student who told me it was their experience with me as their teacher some 15 years earlier that was now their motivation to become a teacher. Wow!

Any student who leaves school without realising their potential is a wasted opportunity. I have come across too many adults who express this very sentiment for it not to be so. Regrets abound.  We can go on saying it’s the students fault or even blaming each other or the system or we can do something about it.

As teachers we do far more than teach subjects, we build learning relationships with learners. Where learners find the school environment ‘toxic’ we have the opportunity to build relationships that help them overcome such effects, or we could say they were lazy, mixed with the wrong crowd or were not very bright!

The key to helping students not only survive in school but thrive is in meeting their needs. I am not talking about learning styles or developing grit or even the psychology of a growth mindset.  I am talking about the needs that are at the core of developing learning relationships. We all have them, we as teachers and as partners or as a member of a family all have them. Meet these needs and we have engagement and co-operation, don’t and we have ‘excluded’ and disaffected individuals.

As teachers, we know about the needs of the student and we work hard at building relationships. This is true except in teaching it can be difficult not to focus on just delivering the curriculum and assessing progress and this can overshadow meeting learner’s needs.  Is this the real reason some students do not do well in the school environment I wonder? If we have changed school targets, structures, organisation, management, examinations and testing and yet still do not meet the needs of some students then you have to ask yourself the question – “Do any of these things actually matter that much, will they lead to the changes we want to see in terms of student achievement?”

I have researched and written at length about each of the four learning needs so for this article I will not go depth. Luckily it is a simple matter to remember these four needs and to include them in our interaction with others and in our teaching, I have developed a mnemonic to do just that and even the acronym that represents them is easy to remember too.

So “Please Be Child Friendly” in your teaching and “Please Be Colleague Friendly” in your working relationships.

Here is a quick overview of the four needs, PBCF, and a useful graphic

Power – having a voice, being acknowledged

Belonging – being recognised and remembered

Choice – offered choice and understanding the resulting consequences

Fun – enjoying what you do and celebrating success

Using PBCF in your own work.

If you would like a workshop on how to develop PBCF in your teaching or in leadership or management then please get in touch. Look out for the book “Understanding and Managing Learning Needs” too, it is a comprehensive guide to all the factors associated with developing PBCF in teaching.

Why Learning Intelligence?

The original article was published at “The Staffroom”

why learning inteligence

To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle”    George Orwell

Sometimes the obvious is on our doorstep, often ignored and rarely noticed.  So it is with my experience as a teacher and in the development of the concept of Learning Intelligence, or “LQ”.

After a career of nearly 4 decades in teaching I have taken an opportunity to step out of the classroom on a daily basis and take the time to reflect and research. It is a chance to read all those authors and study their ideas and theories with the benefit of experience.  If education is guilty of anything it is the jumping on an idea and wanting it to solve all the problems surrounding teaching and learning. The list of theories and game changing concepts in teaching is significant and probably an indication of the fundamental importance of needing to “get it right”. Do we need another theory or concept, that of Learning Intelligence or LQ[i]? I think we do and this is why. Let’s face it, it has to be better than “back to basics”, the “3R’s” or the PISA[ii] ranking stick we are often beaten with.

Imagine something so big that no matter which way you look, up/down, left/right, it almost blocks your view.  It is a colossal structure and its surface is a multitude of fine intricate patterns and textures coloured in every imaginable shade and tone. It is impossible to see it all at once and the best you can do is to look at one small area at a time. As an outsider you have no idea how it functions or really how it does what it does. It is too big to study all of it in any one lifetime. So people focus on just one small part and try to predict how the rest of it works based on the discoveries they make, no matter how small or controversial.  We call these people “researchers”.

Those who want to control or master it are not those that study it but they do make claims about what must be done to improve it.  As each new discovery is published new practices that sweep away the old are introduced. We call these people “administrators”.

Then there are those that work in it, know only what works and what does not work and follow their instincts. They have little time for studying it as they are too busy “doing it” but they must take on each new practice as if it will solve every problem and make whatever this huge thing is efficient. We call these people “teachers”.

This has been my experience in education, but after a career which included some challenging situations, I have had the benefit of almost 5 years to study what the researchers have come up with and piece together with the aid of experience something of the big picture.

I have not the space here to list all the theories or ideas I have been subjected to or tried to make work. Nor to list the authors and speakers I have listened to.  One thing I have been able to do though is to trace some of the ideas back in time and explored their roots through the lens of experience. It has proved enlightening.  For most I have found a grain of truth, an element that when blended with others does indeed work.

The outcome is simple, it occurred to me we may be going about teaching back to front and the evidence is there right in front of our noses.  This is the background to my concept of LQ so let me explain what it is.

Let’s start with a couple of propositions. Learning is a personal journey, whatever we see or experience each of us may take something different from it. The education system tries to standardise learning and assessment. This process involves both curriculum content and teaching but more significantly assessment.  Unfortunately assessment has come to mean only qualifications or standards. This is despite the work by Dylan Williams and Paul Black [iii] who promoted the importance of assessment for learning.

With this “engine” driving education it is easy to see how the process of teaching and learning is susceptible to a somewhat mechanistic approach. Use this tool to fix this problem, use this method to achieve this goal. The learner is only required to conform to the policies, practices and ambitions of the system, to be compliant, in order to be successful.  This standardisation though brings with it responsibility, that of having the right tool, policy or method.  If anything is wrong with these then we risk limiting individual achievement for the sake of compliance[iv]. I asked Sir Ken Robinson if compliance was a learning disability within the education systems we have. His reply was whilst it may not be a disability it is a disadvantage.

As a result of this approach we hit a buffer, we are brought to a halt, when it is found that not all learners are the same, or more to the point given the same input the outcomes are not the same for all learners.  We have seen this outcome explained by saying students having “abilities” or “aptitudes” in certain subjects or being referred to as “Gifted and Talented”, in short labelling learners.  These labels set expectations and the mechanism could grind on with the variable outcome now explained in terms of the raw material or the people who operate it

There was another shudder in the machine when it was suggested that we had what were referred to as “learning styles” or “multiple intelligences” [v]and that if we learnt in a way that satisfied these then standards would rise[vi].  The machine that is education duly took responsibility for changing practices, it could do no other.  When this did not “work” we looked for other reasons for why some learners are more successful than others.  Maybe it is not the machine that is at “fault” perhaps learners don’t have a “growth mind set[vii]” or display sufficient “grit” to do well.

I would claim that education is at fault for taking responsibility for learning and by trying to control the learning environment to suit every type of learner, although given the circumstances I have suggested it could do no other. The responsibility to raise standards weighs heavily and so ultimately becomes the only focus for teaching and learning[viii]. Anything that is not already credited with raising standards or is not the outcome of research or a product of legislation is seen as too risky to attempt. It will probably continue down this route too unless something changes and I suggest LQ is that change.

So what makes LQ unique or different? Well firstly it see the education system as an environment, one that with the right skills, attitudes, attributes and behaviours we can manage in a way that allows us to meet our learning needs. I need you to read that again, it’s what’s has been right under our nose all along.  Instead of the learner being the passenger we teach them to be the driver able to understand and navigate their own learning. This is not “learning to learn” , it’s about understanding and managing learning.

LQ is a construct; a form of narrative that brings all the pieces, ideas, and theories of the jigsaw together in a meaningful way, it’s the 3D viewer that allows us to explore the colossal structure that is education.  LQ is something we need to develop in learners if they are to manage any learning environment they encounter. LQ  will allow us to create lifelong learners. As Albert Toffler[ix] warns “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. ”

LQ round

There is much more to LQ than I can discuss here and to date I have published well over 50 articles on the various aspects of LQ both from the perspective of education, the teacher and the learner. You can find them all on my blog at https://4c3d.wordpress.com/  You can also find out about my work as an author, consultant, coach and speaker at www.ace-d.co.uk

Should you wish to find out about how LQ can make a significant difference to you then please e-mail me at kevin@ace-d.co.uk and we will start a conversation!

[i] If you want to skip the rest of this article and  don’t suggest you do, and go to the heart of LQ go here:

http://wp.me/p2LphS-3p

 

[ii] The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a triennial international survey which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students. https://www.oecd.org/pisa/home/

[iii] INSIDE THE BLACK BOX: Raising Standards Through Classroom Assessment Jan 1990

[iv] For a discussion about the impact of compliance on learning see the article “Is Compliance a Learning Disability” at http://wp.me/p2LphS-kd

 

 

[v] See Howard Gardner regarding Multiple Intelligences  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Gardner

[vi] See Barbara Prashnig’s article on this subject “Debating Learning Styles” http://www.creativelearningcentre.com/downloads/Debating%20LS.pdf

[vii] See Carol Dweck Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential

[viii] To explore the “Responsibility Ratio” see “The Return to School” article at: http://wp.me/p2LphS-kk

[ix] https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3030.Alvin_Toffler

 

 

The original article was published at “The Staffroom” visit:

Why Learning Intelligence? By Kevin Hewitson

Scaffolding learning – a different perspective?

scaffolding2

As teachers we break a subject down into components or elements of knowledge and understanding, into learning steps if you like. We then find the “best” way to deliver these steps in a way learners will, with a measured degree of effort, assimilate.  This process is influenced by our knowledge and understanding of pedagogy and our relationship with the learners. In short we “scaffold” learning.  Fairly straightforward but have you thought about it from a learner’s perspective?  No? – Well read on!

Using what we know to learn what we don’t know

I have come to believe that we learn by building on what we know. This to me is a sort of mental map of my knowledge and understanding, knowing and learning (yes there is a difference, see this article: http://wp.me/p2LphS-ba). The bigger and more detailed the map the more confident we are and easier we find learning something new. For example it has been shown that speaking more than one language helps in learning a new language. I have a way of visualising this process of building on what I already know and call it “anchoring”. I look to make sense of what it is I am trying to learn or understand by referencing it with what I already know or understand what I have already learnt. I make links between what I already know and what I need to learn.

brain-map-transmitters1

Anchoring essentially involves problem solving, an important aspect of Learning Intelligence, LQ (download a leaflet here: about-lq-with-lq-graphic). This is how this approach works and how a teacher can use it effectively in their lessons.

From the learner’s perspective

1) As the topic or subject is introduced we have to look and listen for words or phrases we already recognise.

2) We cannot assume they mean the same thing in this scenario as they do in others so we need to seek clarification and check meaning and relevance.

3) We take enough time to reflect on how what we know fits in with what we are learning. This also involves asking questions to check the links are valid.

4) Next is a sort of consolidation phase, where we explore a little further trying to see where what we know already and what we are trying to learn may take us.

5) This leads to as a sort of prediction phase where the links are established and we are ready to embark on a new learning journey.  We can make educated guesses or predictions if given certain pieces of information.

So learning starts by seeing learning as a problem to solve and a period of analysis and reflection.

From the teacher’s perspective

1) Ask yourself what students need to know or understand in order to make a start on this topic and prepare questions you can ask to check before starting the topic.

2) Don’t assume understanding. Often the same words or phrases can be learnt without understanding. Build in a check and reflection phase during the topic introduction.  Acknowledge and praise where students show understanding or can make links with relevant knowledge.

3) Create an opportunity for students to identify what they already know and how it can be useful in the learning process.

4) Introduce risk taking in the learning process. Encourage students to make assumptions or predictions about the new topic. Here are some questions that can be used to initiate this process. “Knowing what we know already what might happen if…?” “How do you think this might link to…?” You are actually leading up to “Let’s find out”

5) Don’t underestimate how much effort this takes on the part of the learner.  Allow for structured mental breaks and reflection periods. Build in activities that create opportunity for pair or small group work and class feedback sessions.

The proof is in the pudding

I have tried this out on myself in learning about path-finding algorithms used in game programming and after 50 minutes I was in need of a mental break despite being very interested.  I went through all the steps I suggest a student goes through here. During the process I was not passive, there is no good sitting there and hoping you are on the same page as the teacher. Learning intelligence, LQ, is about managing your learning environment and that means interacting with it.

There are two other observations to make about this approach. Firstly I was able to contribute much sooner than if I had just listened. I was in an active learner state earlier. This is important if we as learners are going to maximise opportunities for learning. For teachers it means a greater rate of progress.

Secondly I have a deeper understanding of the topic in a much shorter period of time and anchors that can be used to recall the learning links later. These anchors can be thought of the start of trail of “bread crumbs” marking our thought and learning associations. In case of reviewing or revisiting what we have learnt, and possibly forgotten, we can pick up the trail again starting from an established anchor point.  By following the same trail we reach the same understanding but importantly we can do this independently using our internal prompts. A simplified example is knowing that 12 x 12 is 144 so when asked what 24 x 12 is we can start at  12 x 12 and quickly recognise we are talking about twice as much.

I would be interested if you  scaffold your teaching or learning in this way too.

 

 

An Even Better Way

arrow-with-the-words-hit-your-target-is-pulled-back-on-the-bow-and-is-aimed-at-a-red-bulls-eye-ta

Schools are pushing students at this time of year to make or exceed their target grades. A great deal goes on both during school, after school and during holidays to finish coursework or to revise topics. Revision strategies most commonly ask students to go over ground they have already covered, often in the same way with the same teachers and approach. What if there was a better way to reach those targets grades?

If we take a sporting analogy for a moment we can see that there is more to performance than learning how to do something and practicing it.  Athletes have to believe in their ability to succeed and without this mental state it matters little how often they practice or train. What if our students did not believe in their ability and what if we did little to change that state of mind? Would it matter how much revision or practice they did if at heart they did not believe they would succeed?

In 2016 Roy Leighton was involved with a school in Leicester in changing mind-sets of a group of Y11 students. They were using a ‘better way’ to help students achieve and it does not involve revision in any school subject but it will pay off across all of them. In fact it will have a lifelong pay off for the students because they will believe in themselves.

I had the opportunity to accompany Roy on a visit to the school to meet with some of the students during the Easter Holiday and to see the better way in action.  The better way is actually called the “Butterfly Model” and it is something Roy has been developing and refining very successfully.  I have known Roy for some time and our work has a number of common elements including enabling learners to manage their own learning and to understand the emotional impact on our ability to learn. Roy once said to me: “We are holding different ends of the same stick” and I take this as a both a compliment and encouragement for developing my work on Learning Intelligence seeing how big the stick is that he is holding.  

BM1
I recommend you check out his work on personal transformation here:  http://www.royleighton.com/the-butterfly-model1.html

What gets students engaged and motivated?

From my own experience and work on getting Y11 ‘down to it’ I know that getting them motivated is the essential. I have identified four key elements that are necessary to getting people to engage and hence motivated. The first is PBCF.

PBCF “Please Be Child Friendly” is a way of remembering the four elements shown in my graphic below. I would challenge you to find anything in which you are actively engaged that does not involve these four components.

The second aspect is LQ and shares the same roots as Roy’s stick! It’s about a mindset and them enabling and supporting the engagement of learners by developing the Skills, Attitudes, Attributes and Behaviours that form the enabling aspect of LQ. You can read more about LQ, starting with an introduction here at LQ Introduction

LQ and PBCFLQ round

Back to the school and students who voluntarily came in during the holiday to meet with Roy and carry on with the programme. This was his 4th visit and there are others to come along with “hangouts”, text messages and online resources that are part of the programme. This may sound like an advert for the Butterfly model but hey if you see something that works you should share it – right!

The session focused on being the person you want to be, making the changes you need to make and recognising the powerful emotions that influence our self-beliefs as learners.  “Getting from here, to where you want to be”. Not your typical exam boosting session but one that is as essential as any in achieving success, just ask any athlete.

As students reflected on the last session and what they decided they wanted to keep, develop and let go you could see their energy rise ready for the challenges this session would provide. A significant difference to getting students to go over work they have already struggled with again which does little to alter their “learning map”, what they believe they can and cannot learn.

Looking at ourselves and recognising our strengths and our weaknesses is difficult, acknowledging these and then deciding what to do about it even harder, but hardest of all is actually doing something about it.  I saw students fully engaged in this journey, facing up to the challenges and changing their beliefs about themselves as learners and having fun while they did so.

With the pressures schools face and not forgetting how these find their way to the teachers it is refreshing to see a school take a different approach, a better way, to achieving success. Some may even say a “braver way” and in many respects I would have to agree. Doing what is the norm, even if it does not always work, is less risky than doing something that is right when it is not recognised. The students who attended this session are in many ways pioneers and deserve recognition. I am sure they will show others there is a better way and I look forward to hearing of their success.

Want to explore the PBCF and LQ intervention and how it can help your students?

emailGet in touch with me via e-mail here:

Part 4: The one and only learning theory that counts is …

Part 4.  The impact of the no one learning environment cont.

blame

A blame culture, the ultimate outcome of the “one way”.

Earlier I explored the impact of the one way not working. I described how in my experience it leads to the tightening of monitoring and checking systems,  inflexible frameworks and the limiting of creativity (or in some cases finding “creative” ways around inflexibility).  Now we turn to whose fault is it the one way is not working.

If the one way to learn, the prescribed approach, is not working then it is the fault of someone. Who is that “someone”? At the start there are always a lot of things to point the finger at, after time though the number dwindles. That someone was the Local Education Authority, trendy (lazy) teachers, progressive teaching methods, low aspirations, parents, disruptive students etc. Now it is either the leadership of the school or the teacher or a lack of effort on the part of the learner (also the fault of the teacher). In such cases it is easy to get into a cycle of finger pointing or a blame culture.

We in the UK are definitely into a blame culture and as we move further and further into it the language used by government gives this away. We hear things like “we are introducing a new check”, “pupils at risk of falling behind” , “target those areas” and “children aren’t being given a fair shot to succeed”. More the language of war you would think (the outcome of desperation?) than education perhaps.  Then there is the “takeover” manoeuvre (there is that war analogy again!), the one where those who were “in charge” or responsible are no longer trusted and a new regime is installed. In the UK it is academy trusts who take over “failing schools” but these are also failing (as we would expect if the one way does not work!). It’s certainly a dilemma for any government that persists on the one way path. I suppose with so much invested in the one way, both personally, as well as politically, it is hard if not impossible to even consider another way let alone more than one way.

What we do know is the learning environment created by the pursuit at all costs of the one way is very toxic for those involved in leadership, teaching, and learning.  Finding a way to deal with this environment is the key to improving teaching and learning. We know that through regulation and inspection leadership and teachers have their hands tied so this leaves the learner.  A simple analogy that describes how we may proceed in dealing with a toxic environment that is not going to change is living somewhere really cold and wanting to be warm. You can ask for sunnier days, less snow and ice each year or longer summers and shorter winters until you are blue in the face (ignoring climate change). You are asking for the unlikely if not impossible. The more successful way is to acclimatise yourself to the environment and seek ways of managing it in order to get what you want – to be warm. So you learn what clothes to wear and how to wear them, you practice ways of getting and keeping warm and after a while you are warm, despite the environment.

If we take the same approach in teaching and learning then it’s not about changing the learning environment to meet the needs of the learner it’s about equipping the learner to manage the learning environment to meet their learning needs.  This is important not only because of the one way  problem but because we do not learn just in schools or managed environments. We have the opportunity to learn in a number of different environments. For example at home, in work, during leisure and in a social setting are all potential learning environments.  My experience is that some learners do not do well in one school environment but thrive in another, some do not do well in any formal education environment but thrive when on work placements, and some excel in leisure pursuits but do less well in school. They are the same person but achieve differently in different environments. If we wanted evidence that we need to equip learners with the skills, attitudes, attributes, and behaviours (SAAB) to manage their learning environment then we need look no further than these examples. Where their SAAB matches the environment they flourish, where it does not they struggle.

My claim is that in these situations the learner possesses the appropriate SAAB profile for the environment in which they thrive but not the profile for those where they struggle. It occurs to me that we need to broaden or develop the SAAB profile of the learner such that they can thrive in any learning environment. We need to work with the learner to explore their learning needs and how this impacts on their learning beliefs.  To build in the learner the ability to see a difficulty to learn not as a personal weakness but as a result of the environment they are in and not having the SAAB to mange it effectively.

Links to earlier parts are:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

diagram of LQ and SAAB

Learning Quotient

The skills, attitudes, attributes and behaviours you need to take control of your own learning environment.

LQ round

There is a truth in education, we believe in “ability“, the abilities of the students we teach. The common belief is that students have an ability in a “subject”, good at science or maths, yet subjects are an artificial construct. I would argue that a truth based on an artificial construct, purely designed to make teaching more manageable, is fundamentally flawed.

Labels good at

What then if this truth is wrong, a form of reflection of something we don’t directly see but that determines our ability to learn?

baby reflection

I believe we are born to learn. However before developing a spoken language we are not aware of what we can or cannot learn, we only experience learning. We do not have these experiences in isolation, we are bound to our environment and those we share it with. It is impossible our learning experiences are without influence from our environment and those within it. Our behaviours are moderated by the social norm we live in. Our attitudes are influenced by how those around us approach their challenges. We develop attributes that are encouraged by our peers and mentors. The skills we acquire help us to navigate this environment and in part adopt a role within it.

We may be blind to the influences of our environment through our learning experiences and that of others too. We could just be accepting “ability”  as a simple truth because it is far less complicated and easier to accept.

My own learning experiences and those of teaching others suggest an alternative truth, one that takes into account the influences of our environment. I suggest that there is such a thing as Learning Intelligence, “LQ” and that it can be developed.

I define LQ as: the ability of the learner to manage their learning environment to meet their learning needs.learning to walk

There are parallels to this theory that we exhibit in our early learning years.

Learning to walk we use props to steady us and to help raise ourselves up, we show resilience when we fall over.

Learning a language involves mimicking others and responding to feedback. It involves trial and error and risk.

These are just some of the strategies we use to manage our early learning environment. Those we need for later learning are the result of the subtle and often unrecognised influences of our environment. We begin to build these influences into what I call our learning map,  a representation of what we believe we can and cannot learn. They take the tangible form of skills, attributes, attitudes and behaviours and are the tools by which we navigate our learning map and hence our learning environment.

Those learners that are successful in schools are often those whose learning map and LQ profile match the school environment. They have the skills, attributes, attitudes and behaviours that allow them to access the learning and they feel comfortable within that particular environment. Whilst many go on to achieve within life there are some who find learning outside of the school environment difficult perhaps because they have through the lack of challenge, of being compliant, failed to develop their LQ.  I have asked the question “Is compliance a learning disability?” and you can find the article here.

There are many who don’t do well in learning at school too. These pupils are either seen as being “unable” to learn (less able), or who have emotional or other behavioral challenges that cause them to respond poorly to the school environment. Once again I claim this can be dealt with successfully if we look at the symptoms rather than the outcome (often the behaviour) and develop their LQ.

My belief is that we desperately and urgently need to address the issue of this false truth. 

We need to develop in learners the skills, attitudes, attributes and behaviours so that they can manage their own learning environment to meet their learning needs and in doing so take control of their learning. When we do learners will be able to demonstrate their true abilities. 

Do you plan lessons the way you learnt them?

Lesson Plan

Do you try to learn what you are teaching the way you are presenting it to your students?

To put it another way.

When you begin to plan lessons do you see it through the eyes of your students or do you rely on the way you learnt it to plan your teaching?

This is an important question not only for those starting their teaching career but for those who have been at it some time. I believe learning is a personal thing. What motivates, engages, enthuses, or frustrates one learner is not always the same as another. We can feign enthusiasm, hide our lack of engagement, or explain a lack of motivation but hiding frustration is difficult. This is why the first step in teaching has to be building relationships with learners. Frustrated learners with whom you have a relationship tend in my experience to be a little more ‘forgiving’ than those with which you do not. I am not talking about the ‘compliant learner’ who will feign engagement but those who can be more disruptive when not engaged.

To build relationships we need to understand something about the other person, as a teacher we need to understand our students. One aspect of building this relationship is to see the learning experience through their eyes as if we too are encountering it for the first time. Do you do that when planning lessons?

Take a moment to consider the conditions under which you learnt what you are now planning to teach.

  • How long ago was it?
  • How were you feeling at the time?
  • How successful had your prior learning been?
  • What relationship did you have with the teacher?
  • What relationship did you have with your peers?
  • What resources were available to you to help you learn?

Now think about how you plan to teach the particular topic. Will you make any changes as a result of this reflection?

Perhaps you will take a moment to judge how confident your students feel at this moment. Perhaps you will consider your own feelings when you approach something new or challenging. Lesson planning is more than just about content.

You can see much more about lesson planning at:

http://wp.me/p2LphS-a6

If you are finding it hard to remember what it feels like to be a learner, to learn something new, to face new challenges for the first time then may I recommend John’s rule # 12 which says:

“Always have a project on the go.”

 This is translated as ‘always be a learner. More of John’s rules at:

http://wp.me/p2LphS-3W

 

Part 4: What if everything we thought we knew about learning was wrong?

What are the influences of the industrial and technological revolutions on education?

Education based on revolutions

The influences of any revolution leave their mark. This could be in any article from fashion, furniture, architecture and food to any service such as medicine, armed services or indeed education. There will be something, in some form, that reflects some of the ideology or nature of that revolution. It is easy to see in artifacts, cars are a good example, but it is there too in services such as healthcare.

1956_Pontiac_Club_de_Mer_Dream_Car_09_1  health care system approach

There is certainly a “fashion” element to the influences of these revolutions. Some aspects come and go quite quickly, some hang around and some get re invented every now and then. Some outstay their welcome and just won’t go away (the call for a “back to basics” approach may be one in education). Then there re those on which we build something new, something lasting with real benefit. The idea of an education system for all is probably one of those ideas developed out of the need for people to work in the new industrial age leaving the agricultural age behind. But what of the negative influences, the limiting ideas that have remained? The idea of standardisation, uniformity, quality control and others can if wrongly applied be hazardous and difficult to shed .

Another way of looking at this question is,

Are we doing what we should be doing in terms of developing education or perhaps are we doing what we find easier to do and more of the ‘same old, same old’ but with a fresh coat of paint?

We are back to the issue of the shaky foundations on which we are building education systems.

The OECD report “Universal Basic Skills What Countries Stand to Gain”[i] asks the question:

How well do today’s schools prepare for tomorrow’s world?”.

The Forward makes a clear link between education and work and is well worth a read. It starts by stating:

“Economic growth and social development are closely related to the skills of the population, indicating that a central post-2015 development goal for education should be that all youth achieve at least basic skills as a foundation for work and further learning, not merely that they gain access to schooling.”

The importance of education is clearly underlined, it is economic growth and social development.  We can see why education cannot be left to chance and that it comes under political influence if not control. What country could allow its education agenda to be determined by whim and fancy?  These then must be the most significant influences on education but are they and if so how close do we adhere to them?

The use of the term “basic skills” will lift the hearts of a many a politician these days since it has been the rallying cry for changes in, and some say control of, education for some time.  There must be a link between the needs of ‘work then and what education needs to deliver.  There is another side of the coin too and that is education is about developing the individual, that it is to say it is not just a way of producing drones for the world of work.

We could easily make a case for the current system we have to be based on a Victorian model, both in terms of delivery and focus. Sir Ken Robinson has made such comparisons when he says, “The current system was designed and conceived for a different age[ii] .  It certainly fits the bill for “economic growth”, well it did when established, but I am not so sure about “social development”.

We must be careful though not to assume what others mean when they speak of “basic skills”, we must not fall into the trap that they are talking about the three R’s or an academic curriculum (a nod to the English Baccalaureate [EBacc[iii]] here) or the same thing we have in our minds.  Digging further into the report we see that the OECD definition of basic skills means:

Ensuring that all people have a solid foundation of knowledge and skills” and that  “It is most critically about making sure that individuals acquire a solid foundation of knowledge in key disciplines, that they develop creative, critical thinking and collaborative skills, and that they build character attributes, such as mindfulness, curiosity, courage and resilience

Who would argue with that? Indeed my concept of Learning Intelligence[iv] includes these and I know how effective LQ is in helping learners achieve  their potential.  Four years ago I considered the functions of education and came up with this list[v]:

Integration: sharing traditions, rituals and beliefs
Understanding: to develop and share knowledge and develop understanding
Awareness: to achieve an understanding of one’s self, needs and desires
Evolution: to educate the educator, to be relevant and to move forward
Objectivity: to reflect, observe and question
Responsibility: to understand options and consequences (physical, social, spiritual and moral)

Things have moved on since then but there is a correlation with what OECD are saying now. In fact this is one of the problems with defining what education should be about, we can read almost anything into any list or definition.

The only way we can truly see what any definition of education means is to look at the outcomes since they must be a product of the purpose no matter what language is used.  That is unless those delivering the education do not understand the purpose or do not agree with it! See how complicated this issue is? In such cases we would need strong and comprehensive check and control measures just to make sure policy was being adhered to and we get the desired outcomes. Something like Ofsted and Ofqual here in the UK perhaps.

We have seen two significant revolutions in this country and so if we accept the first helped form the current education system what if any influences on education has the second, the information technology revolutions, had on education?

There is no doubt that the industrial revolution relied on the power of machines to drive practices forward and that there were benefits, as well as costs. Those that held the keys to this new age shouted the benefits of mass production, standardisation, cheaper products, and shorter production times. I would argue though that these are not the outcomes required in education.  As for the information technology revolution it has allowed us to monitor far many more data streams, gather far more date far more often and to analyse that date in a fraction of the time than could have been imagined in the industrial revolution.  In the same way it could be argued that the principles and practices of the industrial revolution have been wrongly applied to education I would suggest so too have those of the information technology revolution. They have enabled the check and control systems to be universally applied in order to ensure the outcomes are those determined by those setting policy. Perhaps the second revolution is as far from liberating the individual as the first was.

Whereas the industrial revolution allowed us to achieve standardisation, increased output, and reduction of cost the information revolution has allowed us to gather increasing amounts of data on which to chase improving standards, quantify decisions, and monitor and rank almost anything.  It also, rather seductively, claims to offer a solution to the desire for the individualised learning suggested by Bloom (and mentioned in Part 3) as the most effective way to learn (more of this later). In fact this may be a Trojan horse with the real reason for the investment in technology by Government in schools being that of data collection and data mining much like Google does.

Once again we have in education adopted a set of principles and practices from a different model in order to improve education.  Once again I claim we are shoring up a shaky foundation with the wrong practices and ideas.  It is hard to imagine the level of data collection and analysis of target setting and monitoring in education that we now have if it was not for the power of the computer. Has this actually done anything to improve the process of teaching and learning though? What it has done is to show us where we may need to improve education but not how to improve education.  It has become a stick to beat or poke with rather than to guide with.  A stick that has grown here in the UK from 40% to 60% in the last week as the Secretary of State for Education sets out the definition of coasting schools[vi]. It could be much more and in some cases it is but we need to strike a balance when it comes to education.

In the final part of this article I will suggest that it is time to re-evaluate the foundations of teaching and learning and to focus on what I believe are the true foundations of education we should seek to build on.

 

Final Part: What if everything we thought we knew about learning was wrong? http://wp.me/p2LphS-pv

The four foundations of learning and what learning is not

 

[i]OECD (2015), Universal Basic Skills: What Countries Stand to Gain, OECD Publishing.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264234833-en

Download at:

http://hanushek.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/publications/Universal_Basic_Skills_WEF.pdf

http://www.oecd.org/edu/universal-basic-skills-9789264234833-en.htm

[ii] http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms

[iii] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/english-baccalaureate-ebacc

[iv] https://4c3d.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/learning-quotient/

[v] http://www.ace-d.co.uk/id1.html

[vi] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/hundreds-of-coasting-schools-to-be-transformed

Part 3: What if everything we thought we knew about learning was wrong?

2585609947_41943f8ab5_Okinawa Soba

So far I have suggested that we have lost sight of the foundations of teaching and learning. That the practices of science, those of ‘theories’ and ‘testing’ have come to dominate educational thinking and that some of the aspects of the art of teaching have been lost. I have also suggested that we go back and explore the simplest of learning models to see if we can re establish secure foundations on which to build.

So let’s take that simplest of learning models for a moment and let me suggest how it will look

  • I show you how to do something.
  • You watch me, ask questions and imitate.
  • I observe and evaluate what you do and provide feedback.
  • There is recognition of competence and progress reflected in the instruction and tasks.
  • You take note of my comments and try to improve, to become better, to master, to learn and perhaps ultimately understand.
  • I take note of your reactions and try to improve my instruction/guidance
  • We build a relationship and trust each other to do our best as either teacher or student although such roles are not always clearly defined. Often the teacher learns as much from the student as the student learns from the teacher.

2 sigma

This is in effect a model of the apprenticeship.  Problems may arise with this model as we try to scale things up, as we go from 1:1 to 1: many.   Bloom identified this as the “2 sigma problem” when he published his article “The Search for Methods of Group Instruction as effective as 1:1 Tutoring” in 1984 (1).  There are claims being made for being able to personalise learning through “adaptive learning” software in the context of “gamification of learning” . A TEDx talk by Ben Betts exploring the issue of the 2-sigma problem and gamification can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqLiLH6Sjnw

Whatever we do there are issues of quality, consistency, standards and resources as well as cost in whatever model we choose.

We can imagine 10 or 20 students and one teacher, and we may even imagine 60 students and one teacher. It is easy to see how a different model, successful in its own right and particular situation, can be looked to solve other problems.  The Victorians looked to mechanisation and standardisation, the process we refer to as industrialisation, and we are looking at the new technologies as we explore the latest revolution but as we scale things up one element of the simple model is diluted. Can you guess which one it is?

I believe as we scale up, as we increase the pupil teacher ratio, with our current approach we lose the intimacy element that is part of building the relationship between the teacher and the student. As yet, with current models, the teacher has not been able to provide the level of 1:1 observation and therefore focused and often immediate feedback that may be part of the foundation of the teaching and learning process.

This need to build relationships and trust in order to achieve effective teaching and learning systems may be the basic principle or foundation that we have lost as we have increasingly sought  to put things right in education.

By looking to the use of principles and practices from other models, perhaps first those of the industrial revolution and latterly the information technology revolution, have we moved away from the foundations of teaching and learning. The question is “Can we get them back in some effective form?

In the next part of this article I will look at the influences I believe both the industrial and information technology revolution have had, and continue to have, on education.

Part 4: What if everything we thought we knew about learning was wrong?  http://wp.me/p2LphS-nZ

What are the influences of the industrial and technological revolutions on education?

Final Part: What if everything we thought we knew about learning was wrong? http://wp.me/p2LphS-pv

The four foundations of learning and what learning is not

 

[i] http://web.mit.edu/5.95/readings/bloom-two-sigma.pdf

Image credit: Okinawa Soba http://www.flickr.com/photos/24443965@N08/2585609947/sizes/o/

Part 2: What if everything we thought we knew about learning was wrong?

In the last part of this article I argued for the need to re-examine the foundations of teaching and learning and to establish if the foundations of what we do and why we do it are still part of today’s educations systems. In short are they relevant? In this, the second part, I ask the question “How far back can we go with teaching and learning?”

campfire homo erectus

Well I would argue that there must have been a time when somebody knew something somebody else did not. Something they discovered for themselves, something that gave them an evolutionary advantage  and perhaps wanted to share with those they lived with.  The making of fire may just have been that one thing or that a stone can act as a club. Although it is rather romantic to imagine such a scenario it does conjure up the first possible teaching and learning scenario.  It does also point to a few possible long lost principles of education too. That:

  • learning through need is a great motivational aspect of learning
  • we learn better when we co-operate with each other,
  • sharing ideas develops new ideas and improves existing ones,
  • failing is just part of the learning journey and should not define who we are (try, try and try again) and
  • trust is a significant aspect of the learning relationship

Long before teaching was a recognised profession and education was a nation’s currency in world rankings there was a time when people learnt things from one another or by reflecting on experiences. Since this simple model we have sought to turn learning into a science and in doing so brought the principles, practices, evaluative and proof tools of science to bear on the process.  I believe some aspects of the art of learning have been sacrificed as we have moved away from the simple model of teaching and learning and adopted a more scientific approach of theories and testing.

As the sciences have  evolved we have attempted to build models of learning that influence how we teach. These models go on to set or influence education policy and practices. Some of these models have been discredited and some build up a strong following as they appear to provide insights into how we can teach better and improve the process of learning.  Whatever appears to work in any part of the educational landscape is explored in order to find elements we can transplant and improve the health of our own education systems.  The idea of science making the process of learning clear continues.  We have seen the rise of neuroscience as we look for ways in which people learn and have employed MRI scanning to map the brain functions.

But what would we do if we had only the simple model of learning and everything else that we believe in how we learn was wrong?  So what if there is:

  • no right brain/left brain functions,
  • no learning styles,
  • no benefit to rote learning or
  • no set of basics or subjects on which we build further learning,
  • no best time of the day to learn

or any of the other ideas or theories we have about how we learn best.

What would we do? What policies and practices would we adopt if there was only the simplest of learning models?

In the next part of this article I will propose the principles and practices of a simple learning model.

Part 3: What if everything we thought we knew about learning was wrong? http://wp.me/p2LphS-nJ

We go back and explore the simplest of learning models to see if we can re-establish secure foundations on which to build.

Part 4: What if everything we thought we knew about learning was wrong?  http://wp.me/p2LphS-nZ

What are the influences of the industrial and technological revolutions on education?

Final Part: What if everything we thought we knew about learning was wrong? http://wp.me/p2LphS-pv

The four foundations of learning and what learning is not

Graphic from: http://socialesiesae.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/prehistory.html

What if everything we thought we knew about learning was wrong?

final examination

Well we have been wrong about things before!

People argued that the world was flat and even now people have different views about the earth revolving around the sun (just go on line and Goggle it!). It is easy to build on shaky foundations if you believe in those foundations. There may come a time when you have to find ways of discounting new discoveries in order to maintain your original beliefs too. You may even re-interpret things in order to fit in with what you believe to be true and attack or try to convince those who do not believe as you do. It may be a human condition that we act this way.

Whatever foundation we build on there is the potential, as we rise so far from them, that we no longer even recognise them for what they were and what they were based on. We become slaves to tradition, to the “basics”, to doing more of what we have always done. Going back to the start is often a cathartic way of trying to determine what is, and what is not, “right” of what actually works and what does not rather than what is.   I believe there is a saying attributed to Albert Einstein that goes along the lines of “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I suggest that to expect that in doing what others have done for different reasons or needs than those of your own will bring about what you need is misguided at least and insanity at worst.

Dismantling existing practices or held beliefs in order to establish their validity or truth can reveal some of our shaky foundations and give us the freedoms to rebuild and establish more informed pathways or beliefs. The caveat though is only if we are open, unbiased, and honest with ourselves and we are willing to assess the process and not just the outcomes.

I believe there are many things about education that we presently believe that we have wrong. Or perhaps there are many things in education that we do that are driven by the wrong motives and beliefs.  We need to go back to the start, to look at teaching and learning from the beginning to find out if we have lost our way.

The next part of this article will ask how far we can go back in teaching and learning.

Part 2: What if everything we thought we knew about learning was wrong? http://wp.me/p2LphS-nD

How far back can we go with teaching and learning?

Part 3: What if everything we thought we knew about learning was wrong? http://wp.me/p2LphS-nJ

We go back and explore the simplest of learning models to see if we can re-establish secure foundations on which to build.

Part 4: What if everything we thought we knew about learning was wrong?  http://wp.me/p2LphS-nZ

What are the influences of the industrial and technological revolutions on education?

Final Part: What if everything we thought we knew about learning was wrong? http://wp.me/p2LphS-pv

The four foundations of learning and what learning is not

What is in a name and how important is it that people know your name?

baby’s-name

What is in a name and how important is it that people know your name?

What does your name say about you?

We are all given one but have you ever stopped to think how you would find your way in the world or how others would find you without one! In fact there a lot more questions about your name once you stop to think about it.

  • Do you like your name?
  • Does your name reflect who you really are?
  • Do you think people treat you a certain way when they meet you for the first time possibly because of your name?
  • Does your name help or hinder you as you make your way in the world?
  • Would you, or have you ever thought of, changing your name?
  • If you decided to change your name what would it be?
  • Do people call you by your given name or have you a nickname they prefer to use?

So now you may be thinking about your name a little more and if it is Kevin, like mine, then you may be happily reflecting on the “fact” that Kevin means  “handsome”.

You may be asking where am I going with all this name stuff? Well let me get to my point.

In 2011 I had achieved  33 years of being a successful teacher and a few more after that outside of the school environment exploring and working in the “real world”. Having a little more time at hand I started to reflect on my learning experiences. It occurred to me that successful learning and teaching was based on a set of skills, attributes, attitudes, and behaviours. The more I have prodded and probed this notion the more secure I am in my belief but I digress, more of that later. I truly believed then, as I do now, that I have something unique to say about learning and teaching and decided I needed to tell the world about it because as far as I could find out no one else had put the various bits together in the way I had. To me it is both blindingly simple and obvious at the same time, not complicated at all. A sort of eureka moment you would call it.

I needed a way to spread the word and let others know of this simple truth about how to make learning easier, be a great teacher and have successful schools.

In 2011 I decided to set up a company, a website, blog and Twitter account and tell the world about what I have discovered. In order to do so I needed a name for the company. Something that said what I was about and was easy to remember and search on the web so people could find me easily. This is where I was probably too clever for my own good because I have come to realise how important a name is and I may have got mine wrong. Let me explain.

I realised that if we did more of what we have been doing in education, especially in the UK, then we would get more of what we have now. To summarise: stressed teachers, stressed students, a waste of talent, mediocre results, more of a focus on meeting a target than being the best we can be, a lack of creativity or individual expression, too much change and a lot more negatives along the way. I realised we needed to do something different and that we needed to be creative in the way we did it. I still have the same aspirations for students, schools, and education as those who set targets or standards to aim for I just think there is a better way of going about achieving it, one that does not carry with it all the negative aspects we are seeing now. I wanted my company name to reflect this more creative approach and to emphasise the possibilities of being the best as a result of adopting it. There was also the need to be unique on the World Wide Web, a challenge in itself.

The name I chose, “ace-d” ,takes the “a” from advocating, the “c” from creative  and “e-d” from an abbreviation of education and stands for advocating a creative approach to education. The word “aced” is also an idiom for doing very well.

Did you get all that or have I been too clever for my own good?

So “ace-d” was born along with a “leet speek” version for the blog and Twitter called “4c3d” (the 4 replacing the “a” and  3 as a backward “e”. I had to use this approach because “aced” had already been taken as a Twitter and blog name and since creativity is a core principle of ace-d it seemed appropriate to find a creative solution.

Then there is the “ace” connotation of the name and its meaning in general use. We do not have to tear down walls to bring about positive change in teaching and learning, to ace it (too clever again?). As Ellen Langer has pointed out in her theory on mindfulness, we just need to be creative and approach things differently. A one degree change in your course when sailing can bring a different shore into view. Going around an obstacle is just as effective as going through it and there are plenty of obstacles in education!

So why do I think I got the name wrong? Well because it is now 4 years since I set up ace-d and although some people have found me and some of those have become colleagues, some have become listeners and some have asked questions I feel I have only been able to directly help a handful of individuals and schools. That is far less than I know that can benefit from ace-d’s approach and that is what makes me think I got it wrong. If people are looking for help would they find it, would they find ace-d? Try Googling “ ace-d LQ”  and let me know if you found me.

Advocating Creativity Ltd is the formal company name for ace-d and I offer an independent advisory service for those seeking significant and sustainable improvements in learning and teaching. This is primarily achieved by adopting a concept developed by me based on experience and research and called Learning Quotient, LQ for short, or Learning Intelligence. LQ is about developing a set of skills, attributes, attitudes and behaviours shown to significantly impact learning and teaching. You will find elements of Dweck, Hattie, Glasser and many more embedded in the concept of LQ. LQ is about an approach to learning that is both simple and powerful but one that as we chase targets and standards I fear we may move further away from.

You can download a leaflet about LQ here: About LQ with LQ graphic. You can also view a presentation about LQ to a TeachMeet at Northampton University here.

If you are a teacher, leader, or a learner and would like to find out more about how ace-d and LQ can help you I would be pleased to hear from you, now you know the name of course.

You can contact me at kevin@ace-d.co.uk

Links to website

Link to Twitter

How do you use your classroom to support learning?

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We know the classroom is more than a place for pupils to sit and the teacher to store resources. It is more than just four walls, windows, doors, a floor and a ceiling too. What makes a classroom is the dynamic way the resources it provides are used. This is why a classroom can be an open space or a piece of ground under a bridge.  My view is that the classroom should say “Welcome to my world.” There should be something about the classroom that celebrates your passion for the subjects you teach and that shows you are a learner too. Here are some of the ways you can use your classroom to promote teaching and learning.

Promote focus by avoiding clutter. Clutter is things that you are not using, do not need to refer to or just don’t want to throw away. It is the last project outcomes, the broken chair or something propped in the corner out of the way. If you cannot bring yourself to throw it away box it and label it. Have only the things that are relevant out on show and in the room if you can.

Make the walls relevant by getting rid of “wall paper”. This is stuff well past it’s sell by date. There is nothing worse than having work on the wall from somebody who has left or was in the class last year. It is also stuff you cannot read if you are sat in the middle of the classroom without requiring the eyesight of Superman. Sit in the middle of the classroom and if you cannot read what is on the wall then bin it. If you cannot read it then neither can your pupils. If it is important then make it readable.

Make the walls a resource for you as well as the pupils. Teachers are adept at using the walls of the classroom to carry all manner of resources but what about using one wall for prompts and reminders for your teaching too.  If when you are addressing the pupils you are at the front of the class then use the back wall for your own purposes. This is not as daft as it sounds; the back wall is probably the least viewed by the pupils.  Here is an example of how you may use the back wall. Say you wanted to develop your teaching by asking more mindful[i] questions then you may have a large image of a brain posted on the back wall.  Unless you explain to others what it is for then it is your own personal reminder to ask questions in a way that encourages rather than discourages responses. If anyone asks you do not have to tell them the reason why it is there, that is up to you.

Share ownership of the walls and encourage pupils to take ownership by displaying their own learning outcomes. You do not have to select every piece that goes on the wall.

Get creative when you need to and this includes using the ceiling, the windows, the doors, and even the floor. The classroom can be “dressed” in the same way as shop windows to promote a theme or support a topic. I have even seen Egypt complete with sand and pyramids appear in a classroom (just be sure to cover the floor in plastic first and get the cleaner on your side!)

Set the mood using technology. Projectors not only project images but hey can be sued to create blocks of colour and coloured light. This can be very effective at creating a mood, especially if you add in some sounds. Plain white sheets can be hung as screens and they do not have to be on the wall. Images can be projected onto them to create illusions of walls or the seaside or anything your imagination comes up with.

Consider the unusual. If you have ever walked into a bakery as the bread is cooling you will know the power of smell. Like music it can transport you both in time and space and lift your mood. Scented candles or perfumes can add that extra dimension. Just image the impact of a few stink bombs if you were studying the history of sewerage in the Victorian era! Having music playing alters mood and pace significantly, just the thing for creative writing.

Move things around, but only for a reason. Too many changes and too much change can unsettle pupils. Like everyone they like the familiar and may need warning about what you have planned. Just imagine how you feel if you cannot use your usual car parking space.  Putting desks in rows just like a Victorian school may be a great way of starting off a topic.

Think about the entrance to your room, it is after all a portal to learning. How can you make it more effective? Remember that sometimes your pupils may be lining up outside your door and it could provide a useful opportunity to learn something or set the scene.

Be welcoming. It goes without saying but sometimes you may get carried away clearing up after the last session or in preparing for the upcoming one. Even if you are not ready take time to meet and greet. How pupils enter a room and even how they leave says something about the space they are in.  Don’t miss an opportunity to use subtle influences to mark out your room as a place to learn.

Give it an identity so the pupils know where they are.  There is nothing worse than bland teaching room after bland teaching room along a corridor. Think what the high street would look like if all the shops were the same. How would you know where you are or where to go?

Promote organisation. A place for everything and everything in its place is a very important adage. So is “Don’t put it down. Put it away.” Have systems that you use to keep your room organised. This helps you find things as well as the pupils and saves them waiting to ask you.

[i] Mindful questions are those that do not impose limits or require absolute understanding in order to answer. They can be satisfied in part or in whole depending on the knowledge and understanding of the pupil.  For example if you ask pupils to name the three states matter can exist in then you are excluding those that can only think of 1 or 2 from answering and anyone who believes there are 4 (plasma) or even 5.  A mindful question format may be formed in this way, “Who can name me a state matter can exist in?” . Now you have not set any boundaries and can respond to any “odd” or interesting responses you receive.

Assessment Without Levels. Is it Possible?

banned sign

The flux in education in the UK at the moment is all about levels; the lack of levels, the change of levels and the validity of levels.  This is a great time to take a totally different approach to preparing students for examinations, one that focuses on learning and improves performance.

Section 7 of the NCSL publication “Beyond Levels” concluded that:

Pupil involvement in the learning process: the importance of placing pupils at the centre of the assessment process; and involving their active participation and views was a recurring outcome. Enabling young people to have a clear understanding of what they were learning and needed to learn next, was recognised as important.”

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/349266/beyond-levels-alternative-assessment-approaches-developed-by-teaching-schools.pdf

This article is an outline of the principles a professional development course for schools and available from Advocating Creativity that satisfies that need.

Although the course, “Assessment Without Levels” by Advocating Creativity Ltd,  was developed before the popularity of theories and research by people such as Dweck (Growth mindset), Langer (Mindful learning) and Hattie (Table of effects) it brings all three together in an effective approach. The outcome of the course has been shown to include improved:

  • learning,
  • student performance and
  • teacher planning.

Assessment for Learning

My experience shows that when we focus on establishing what a student knows or understands at any given point  then we can better plan future learning.  This is because we have a clearer understanding of what has been achieved and understood so far. The term “Assessment for Learning” (AfL) encompasses this approach. The difficulty has always been getting the students to see assessment this way , partially because they have been taught to focus on levels, be they targets or achievement  grades.

Setting tests

As a teacher you know the way it works. You set a test or revision paper and the buzz in the class at feedback time is about what mark or grade was achieved. Students are quick to spot any discrepancies in marking and insist on the right mark being awarded in line with another student in the class. Getting students to review papers in light of what they are familiar with but need to review and what they do not understand or know is at times difficult.  A great deal of valuable feedback can be lost if we do not find a way of using the performance in a formative manner. This can be a significant challenge for the teacher as few students want to revisit a test they did poorly, or even well, in.

The problem of targets

What if the setting of target grades is a way of limiting performance not enhancing it? In my experience few students see a target grade as anything more than a line to cross. Still fewer still see it as a line to be surpassed. What is more, the mechanism of setting target grades to raise attainment can be a limiting factor. This is in part  due to  the use of algorithms that are used to calculate and then predict future performance based on past performance.

There is, I believe, a particular issue with boys in respect of setting target grades.  Experience suggests that by nature many boys who are not fully engaged in an activity nearly always do just enough and little more. They see little, if any, benefit in doing more than just what is required of them. See this article if you wish to explore this idea further. “Why many boys only do just enough” http://wp.me/p2LphS-2J

Life after levels and grades

Moving away from providing feedback or targets via grades or levels may be scary but it is a course of action that if grasped with both hands will put the focus back where it needs to be, on learning.

Implementing the approach of the course, Assessment Without Levels, results in a different emphasis when setting and “marking” assessments. The traditional focus on what mark or grade to award is eliminated and replaced instead by a traffic light system indicating a level of learning. The only way for a student to assess how well they have done is by reviewing their responses[i].

better way to mark capture

Setting the test requires a slightly different approach in the way it is planned and structured. Each question or task requires identifying with a particular set of learning points. The author of the test must start with defining the learning points and consider how the learner will demonstrate understanding. They can then go on to design the question or task in a way that will allow the learner to demonstrate understanding (not just recall).

Differentiation of response is converted into a mark scheme by the teacher but this remains unseen throughout by the learner.  A question is awarded a series of marks according to the learning criteria demonstrated. Whilst there are marks involved at this stage of the process they are merely to determine the thresholds of the three possible outcomes per topic or question. The threshold marks are required by the conditional formatting process employed at the spread sheet stage.

When marking the allowed outcomes are as follows:

1) the student  has demonstrated a sound grasp of the concepts/topic and could transfer this knowledge and understanding to similar situations without difficulty[ii]This is a green traffic light.

2) the student  may understand the topic but there are some areas that need revision in order to gain mastery and be able to transfer knowledge and understanding to similar situations. This is an amber traffic light

3) the student has not shown sufficient understanding of a large number of aspects about the topic and requires a review rather than a revision of material along with possible coaching or a different approach or example used at the teaching stage. This is a red traffic light.

The learner perspective

On reviewing a test, and faced with the traffic lights per question or topic, the student can immediately identify where they need to put their efforts in order to improve. Red takes priority, followed by amber. Green responses fall into the occasional revision category. This gives a focus to further work and an ability to apply future efforts in a more effective and efficient manner.

The teacher perspective

A further analysis, this time from the teacher perspective, is also very informative.  Preparing a matrix of questions and student responses the teacher is immediately able to see if there are any common trends. Red or amber areas of concern across a number of students may suggest a topic that has not been well understood by the class. Red traffic lights indicate priorities for review, amber traffic lights revision. As a result the teacher is then better informed as how to proceed in planning revision or review after the test.  This has the benefits of making teaching more effective and resource allocation more efficient leading to the economic advantages of saved time.

How to carry out the analysis

Luckily for us Excel is able to do the analysis and presentation for us once we set the thresholds of performance. Here is an example of a typical class test set out in this way.

TRAFFIC LIGHT MARKING

 

In the example conditional formatting has been used to set the traffic lights according to performance thresholds set by the teacher. For example Q1, based on the analysis of information, is scored out of 10. The teacher has determined that a score of 8 or more is acceptable in demonstrating a sound understanding. A score of 6 or 7 suggests the second category, that of requiring revision. Anything less than 6 is regarded as a red traffic light and requires a whole scale review. What is more the teacher can model scenarios by adjusting the thresholds seeing who or what topic moves into what zone. This exercise can yield a great deal of information and inform future planning as well as helping to target resources more efficiently and effectively.

Reading the data

There is a great deal that can be gained from this type of analysis of performance. Below are a few examples of what you may find.

A brief look at the chart tells us the following

  • David needs to focus on “writing a response”.
  • Mark has need of further coaching and support in all areas.
  • Lucy needs to focus on two areas, those of: “preparing an argument” and “writing a response”

You can see how powerful this is in analysing performance of individual students.  What would you say about Angel’s performance?

For Angel It would be easy to say everything needs attention but we can see “Preparing and argument” is priority. Perhaps they have not had enough practice or the lesson planning and resources need review.

Now let’s look once again at the class performance from the teacher perspective.

We can see that:

  • all the class need to look again at “writing a response”. Perhaps they have not had enough practice or the lesson planning and resources need review.
  • possible strategies for whole class activity may include peer review and we know which students to pair up.

Returning the test

Here is an example of how a student may receive their results in the form of the front page rubric[iii]. Circling the appropriate smiley face gives direct feedback on where their efforts are needed or where they have demonstrated understanding and should celebrate their achievements.

[i] Front page of test from TuitionGuru Coaching

rubric

A word of warning. Unless you have prepared your students for this type of response to their test or assignments you will be asked “What grade did I get then?” Once you have got over this hurdle I have found that the question becomes “How can I change from an amber to a green?” When this happens you know you have AfL. I also find it useful for students to look at green or amber answers as part of self review. In this way they get to see what they are aiming for in terms of an answer and where their understanding is lacking.

Returning to the original question

Assessment without Levels. Is it possible? Not only is possible to assess without giving learners grades or levels it benefits learning to do so. Benefits can be seen in teaching and learning and in performance. Schools can be more effective and efficient in the way in which they deploy resources. Finally there are economic benefits to be gained from better use of resources.

Want to adopt or explore this approach?

If you would like your staff and learners to benefit from the approach outlined here then contact

.

*My thanks to Paul Whitehead for his feedback and comments on this article. His questions and observations have led to a review that I hope makes the process and advantages clearer.

[i] From the Advocating Creativity in Education “Teaching Ideas” series. You can download a copy  from the website  along with other titles in the Teaching Ideas series.

[ii] This is determined  as a result of the way in which the question or task is designed

[iii] Front page of test from TuitionGuru Coaching http://www.coachingmathsandenglish.co.uk

Five Steps in Developing Learning Intelligence (LQ)

diagram of LQ and SAAB


For over a year now I have been publishing articles that describe the concept I call Learning Intelligence or “LQ” for short. You can see a list of the articles here: About LQ and articles

My “elevator” speech is that “LQ is the ability of the learner to manage their learning environment to  meet their learning needs.”  This is proving to be a simple yet powerful approach to teaching and learning.

As you can see from the graphic above LQ consists of a set of Skills, Attitudes, Attributes and Behaviors but how do you go about developing your LQ?

Here are five steps you could try.

1) Understand the impact of your learning environment on your learning and develop a feeling of being “safe” through taking responsibility for your own learning.

2) Determine the best learning strategy in any learning situation, this may involve delaying in depth learning so be patient.

3) Manage those around you or those directing your learning in a way that supports your learning and builds relationships

4) Be confident and willing to collaborate and to share what you have learnt or finding difficult to learn in order to seek support or guidance.

5) Be willing to change what you believe you can and cannot learn.

For more about how LQ can help you as a parent, teacher or as a learner then you can contact me at kevin@ace-d.co.uk

The Return to School


Teacher and class traditional

The original post below was written THREE  FOUR years ago now. Has anything changed?

It’s not exactly easy re-reading an article you wrote some time ago and finding that it’s still so relevant to education in the UK.  Hope appears to takes a bit of a bashing when this is the case.  So here is my hope once again and what I see as the responsibility of school leadership to make it happen.

The leadership mantra

If whatever change comes along supports or enhances the relationship you have with your students and will improve your teaching and their learning then make it your own.

If on the other hand it will erode or fracture your relationships with the students you teach and thereby make teaching and learning harder than it is then find ways to either deflect the change or modify it in a way that causes no harm.”

The original article, see how many things have changed since 2014

  “All Change – or is it?”

Here in the UK a new term is about to begin and we have new direction from Ofsted in the form of revised guidance and a new Secretary of State for Education.  Some teachers will be joining new schools and many will be facing the challenges of getting to know and teach new classes. Some teachers may even be taking on new challenges in the way of responsibilities or even the subjects and syllabi they will be teaching.  The school may be facing new challenges or targets and there may even be new leadership intent on bringing about improvements. A new timetable always brings with it a certain level of stress too as teachers and students try to remember where they should be and when and with what. A timetable can have a significant impact on the quality of teaching and learning and when the “tail wags the dog” instead of enabling as the timetable can sometimes do many pay the price during the year.  You would be forgiven for being overwhelmed even before you sit and listen to the Head setting out the challenges and goals for the year ahead.

The principles on which teaching is based

Luckily there are the routines and traditions that can form the refuge for the bewildered and confused and these can be found in the classrooms, corridors, and playgrounds of the many schools facing the new term.  There will be a desk and seat, a teacher, a focal point, a register to call, rules to follow, expectations and things to learn. These are the everyday realities of teaching and even with interactive whiteboards, improved planning rubrics, simpler assessment systems, computers and tablets, 3-D spaces and the odd new pencil case, little if anything really changes when it comes to the actual job of teaching.

It’s not all about resources

I have seen some of the best teaching with the most basic of resources and simplest of systems and some of the poorest teaching with the most sophisticated of resources and most intricate of systems. I have also seen some of the best teaching with the least motivated of learners and some of the poorest teaching with those learners so eager to conform and please.

If you are now expecting me to call for a back to basics approach or to ignore change because we have all seen it before and no doubt it will come around again then I must disappoint you.

Neither am I advocating that you jump in with both feet and take on board whatever change you face with as much enthusiasm you can muster. What I am reminding you of is the importance of building the firm foundations that will allow you to teach and then I am asking you to consider everything else in light of this one responsibility and this is it:

If whatever change comes along supports or enhances the relationship you have with your students and will improve your teaching and their learning then make it your own.

If on the other hand it will erode or fracture your relationships with the students you teach and thereby make teaching and learning harder than it is then find ways to either deflect the change or modify it in a way that causes no harm.

In my view it is the role of the leadership team to ensure that the learning environment and the relationships between teacher and learner are protected at all times and from all directions.

Leadership responsibilities and change, reform and new ideas

Below is a diagrammatic representation of what I see as the principle role of leadership in this respect.  There is a lot to take in in one go but focus on the learning responsibility ratio (the rectangle shaded blue at the bottom) which, if protected, should naturally over time move from an emphasis on the teacher to prepare, plan, motivate, engage and encourage to the learner taking more responsibility for managing the learning environment to meet their own needs. This transition has a great deal to do with “Learning Intelligence” and “Learning Needs”* (not learning styles).  Although I have not shown what happens when the leadership fails to protect this relationship in effect the responsibility reverts to the teacher and we end up with a “saw tooth” rather than a straight line transfer.  In extreme cases the learner may abdicate all responsibility for learning since any immediate consequences fall on the teacher and not the student.

Responsibility diagram upadated

If you would like to explore the Teacher Learner Relationship then please see this article.

learning responsibility diagram ideal

If we accept that it is the teacher’s responsibility to manage the learning environment then here are my four foundation stones for teaching.

Learning Needs

There are “Learning Needs” and we all have them. When planning lessons make sure you include these four headings.  The 4 learning needs are based on 35 years of teaching experience but the headings come from William Glasser [i] Its an easy set to remember – just Please Be Child Friendly in your approach and planning!

1) Power – how will I give my students a voice and show them that I am listening to their concerns and needs?

2) Belonging – what can I do to build a sense of belonging as I develop my relationships with my students in a way that builds trust and loyalty?

3) Choicewhat choices will I allow and how will I link these to consequences? How can I show them that they can have some control over their learning environment and that in doing so they can make learning easier?

4) Fun – how will I build the link between fun and achievement and how will I ensure we celebrate success to make learning fun?

LQ and PBCF

* Want to know how you can develop this model in your organisation or find out more about  how LQ can improve the performance of your students?

* For more on the school learning environment see an earlier articleThe First LQ Topic Review – LQ and the School Environment

I can be contacted by phone at 01604 891229 or 07519743941

By e-mail at kevin@ace-d.co.uk

Through Skype: ace-d.co.uk

* For an alternative way to explore planning through what I call “Learning  Intelligence” then see the article “Learning Intelligence (LQ) and Lesson Planning” at: http://wp.me/p2LphS-a6

For an introduction to Learning Intelligence then see: http://wp.me/p2LphS-3p and a graphic covering the skills, attitudes, attributes and behaviours at: https://magic.piktochart.com/output/2297869-learning-intelligence

For a detailed exploration of learning needs I have published an e-book “Understanding Learning Needs” available for download at: http://www.ace-d.co.uk/id10.html  Priced at £4.95. This book has been recognised by experienced professionals as an excellent reminder of the important things in teaching and learning and by those mentoring and guiding new teachers as sound advice and guidance for a successful career.

[i] William Glasser (2001) Choice Theory in the Classroom, Harper

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