Learnership: Becoming a skilful learner

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...

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Is this good enough?

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,...

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The Learning Landscape brings learning to life!

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...

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Developing A Growth Mindset Culture In Your School

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...

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It’s not “just a mistake”: Introducing six different types of mistakes – Part 2

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.


Aha Moment Mistakes

Have you ever suddenly and unexpectedly learnt something new? Perhaps you accidentally pressed a button on your computer, and something unexpected but useful happened?

Or maybe you were cooking and unintentionally used the “wrong” ingredient, but it worked out great?





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...

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Turia Pitt: An Agile Learner in action

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...

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It’s not “just a mistake”: Introducing six different types of mistakes – Part 1

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...

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Why Settle For Resilience?

I’m fortunate to work with many teachers around the world. Not only do I get to share my work with them; I get to learn about the goals they see as most important to their school.

Developing resilience is one of the most common goals I hear about. In fact, it is often the reason why teachers are drawn to my work with Growth Mindsets and Learning Agility.

But recently, I’ve been questioning resilience. By making “resilience” our goal, do we set the bar too low? Could we do better?

Let’s take a look at what resilience is and why schools are so interested in it.

What is resilience?

Dictionary.com defines resilience as: “The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. The power or ability to return to original form.”

Toni Noble and Helen McGrath, authors of Bounce Back!, discuss resilience in terms of the “ability to cope or ‘bounce back’ after encountering negative events, difficult situations,...

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Mistakes about Mistakes

There’s a lot of hype around mistakes. If social media is to be believed teachers should be praising, even celebrating mistakes. And we should be encouraging students to make mistakes. 

I believe that teachers are making a mistake when they praise student’s for making mistakes.

Social Media and Mistakes

Social media oversimplifies the role of mistakes. For example, “Every mistake we make is progress” is simply not true. Often a mistake is unintended and unwanted and does not represent progress at all – in fact it might represent a setback.

It’s not the mistake that’s important. Progress, growth and learning comes from how we respond to the mistake, the information we are able to extract from it, and the strategies we use that ultimately correct it.

In other words, it’s the student’s actions, not the mistake, that are important. And it’s those actions that we should be praising.

 common social media mistakes about...
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Are you Getting Better? Or just Getting Busy?

Agile Learners thrive in the most challenging and unpredictable environments.

Whether it’s increasing the bottom line in business, responding to disruptions in the workplace, achieving academic success in schools, improving parenting skills or triumphing in any other challenging task, the Agile Learner achieves more.

Why? Because the Agile Learner recognises that they can develop their most basic abilities. They know they can increase their talents and intelligence, and they understand that becoming comes before being. In other words, they have a Growth Mindset. 

"More importantly, the Agile Learner understands how to translate their Growth Mindset into actual growth. They recognise that a Growth Mindset is simply an invitation to grow. To achieve growth, they develop their Habits of Mind, constantly step outside their comfort zone, challenge themselves to raise their standards and do more difficult things. They engage in what I refer to as Virtuous Practice."



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