Are you ever exhausted at the end of the school day because you feel like you’ve been dragging your students through the learning process?
Sometimes, it’s like you have to hold your students’ hands through every step. You have to encourage them to get started. You show them exactly what they need to do. You set them challenges, then provide scaffolds so they can overcome them. Then you find their mistakes for them and show them how to correct them. And you feel like you have to do all of this, or they wouldn’t learn anything at all!
These students who leave us exhausted are the ones with poor Learnership – they haven’t learned how to effectively engage in the learning process. It’s not that they can’t learn; it’s just that they don’t know how to learn effectively.
In any given lesson, there’s a particular cognitive load that needs to be “lifted”. This is the intellectual work required to achieve the...
How many times have you heard students excuse their lack of effort or poor performance by saying, “But I’m just not good at …“
Perhaps your students say, “I just don’t want to,” which is really just a cover story for, “If I tried, I think I’d probably fail, so I’m not going to try at all.”
Or perhaps your students constantly stay in their Comfort and Performance Zones, afraid of the mistakes that are likely to occur if they venture into their Learning Zone. If this is the case, they probably aren’t interested in reading the formative feedback you spent ages carefully crafting after their last assignment.
All of the above are symptoms of a Fixed Mindset: a student’s belief that they are unable to make much difference to their basic abilities. This means that if they aren’t good at, say, maths today, they believe they won’t be good at maths in the future.
If that were true, if they really...
Do you have students who get stuck in their learning?
I’m not talking about being stuck on a particular problem. I’m talking about students being stuck in their learning. These are the students who “try hard” but constantly struggle. They find it difficult to grow and reach new standards each year. They always get the same results, never quite achieving what they aim for.
Often, these are the students who slowly fall further and further behind.
These are also the students who take up more and more of a teacher’s time. At first, we need to scaffold their learning. Then we need to give them extra support and “hold their hand” as we guide their learning. Eventually, it may feel as though we’re dragging them through the entire learning process – spending more of our energy helping them achieve, often at the expense of time with other students. We’re left feeling exhausted in the process.
"In the context of the Learning...
I have a guilty secret. As a classroom teacher, there was a group of students I feel I let down, badly. It was never intentional. I wanted to help them; I just didn’t know how to help them. I couldn’t seem to get through to them in the way I wanted.
These students weren’t exactly wasting their time, but they weren’t spending their time effectively, either. They’d rarely slack off enough to warrant getting into trouble, but neither would they push themselves enough to excel. They’d be “on task”, but sometimes only barely.
These students would hand in work that was “satisfactory”. I’d give them formative feedback on how to improve, but they’d shrug their shoulders and say it was “good enough”.
From time to time, I’d challenge them to push themselves more. I’d write things in their reports like, “Johnny could do better,” or, “If Johnny applied himself more, his...
How many times have you heard a student ask, “Is this good enough?”
Do your students look for the easiest options? Do they constantly seek their “path of least resistance”?
Are too many of your students focusing on completing work rather than completing it well? Do they ask, “Do I have to do this?” Or “Is this going to count”?
If you hear these types of questions, it’s because your students don’t have a good relationship with challenges. They look for the instant gratification of doing something easy rather than the long-term gain of doing something difficult.
In short, your students lack one of the essential skills of being an effective learner: understanding the nature of challenges.
The most skilful, effective learners recognise that the benefit of taking on challenges goes far beyond simply getting something done. Former US president John F. Kennedy, when announcing that America would put a man on the moon,...
Do you have disengaged, passive learners in your classroom? Students who do the bare minimum or give up easily? Do you have days that leave you exhausted, feeling like you’re doing most of the hard work for your students, dragging them through the learning process?
The Learning Landscape will not only engage learners, but it will also give you your time and energy back as students begin to take charge of their learning!
Bring learning to life
The Learning Landscape brings learning to life in your classroom. It helps students understand their role as active, skilful participants in the learning process.
It gives you a language of movement and exploration that engages students in their learning.
More importantly, it is a way for students to visualise learning like never before.
Every lesson will be a new adventure. As students navigate their way through the Learning Landscape, they discover and explore new knowledge and insights. To gain more complex and difficult...
Have you ever been the victim of a personality test?
You know the type of test I’m talking about. Someone at your school gives you a survey asking you a bunch of questions. Then you get a nice, coloured chart that describes your strengths and tells you what type of role you’re suited to.
These tests certainly have their place. But if they are not used appropriately, they can contribute to a Fixed Mindset culture in your school.
“You see, the way a school frames personality tests can contribute to either a Fixed Mindset culture of “being” or a Growth Mindset culture of “becoming.”
Too often, personality tests are interpreted as a permanent reflection of who we are. They are used to categorise us as being a certain type of person who is suited to or cut out for a limited number of roles. This implies we are not a fit for other roles because we aren’t the right “type”.
Let’s take a moment to explore the...
Last week, we explored three “below the bar” mistakes that contribute little to the learning process. This week, we look at three “above the bar” mistakes that provide useful information and contribute positively to the learning process. These are the mistakes we should encourage and celebrate in our classrooms.
Sometimes, mistakes happen, and we suddenly have insights we never expected. Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin is an example of an Aha Moment Mistake. Fleming wasn’t looking for penicillin. The mould that grew on the agar dish he was using to grow bacteria was a mistake. But when he noticed the mould...
Turia Pitt is an Agile Learner. She has a Growth Mindset and knows how to take on challenges and overcome adversity.
Completing a double bachelor’s degree in Engineering (Mining) and Science at the University of New South Wales in 2010, Turia went on to successfully apply her learning as a mining engineer at a prestigious diamond mining company in Western Australia.
Not content with only pursuing academic and career goals, Turia excelled in many other areas of her life. She was a contestant in the Miss Earth Australia contest, a professional model, and a successful ultramarathon runner.
Tragically, on 2nd September 2011, while competing in a 100km ultramarathon in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, Turia was caught in a grass fire. She suffered burns to 65% of her body, including her face. Turia was placed in a medically-induced coma for six months, underwent more than 200 operations, had her left foot amputated, and lost all the fingers on her left hand and two on her...
In education, and the community more broadly, there is a movement towards normalising mistakes. “It’s OK to make a mistake” has become the mantra. “Mistakes help me learn” is repeated in classrooms around the world. And, in some instances, mistakes have been encouraged and even rewarded.
But the problem is that not all mistakes are the same. Some mistakes contribute to the learning process, while others detract from it. There is a difference between mistakes that make you say, “Oh!”, and the ones that make you say, “Oh no!”
Over the next two weeks, I will introduce you to six different types of mistakes. We will explore mistakes that make you say, “Huh?”, mistakes that make you go, “Doh!”, mistakes that make you think, “Hmmm …” and more. We’ll develop a language of mistakes you can share with your students to help them understand the role of mistakes in learning and become better...