1 Year Ago:
I have been pondering about what ‘Real Learning’ means to me as a teacher for the last few days. What resonated with me the most, due to the fact that I’ve been an out-of-the-class teacher for these days, is how much it matters what real learning means to me, Leah, as a human being, not just as an educator.
This four day residential has provided me with time to really analyse and question what real learning looks/sounds/feels like and this was probably influenced greatly by two books I’ve read recently (David and Goliath and Mindset).
What does it look like?
I’ve read that you can’t ‘see’ learning and I understand the theory behind that. You can see the hints that learning is taking place and this is what I’ve seen this week:
// children completely and utterly engrossed in something: in ‘flow’. Whether that was putting up a tent and trying to figure out what wasn’t working; or trying to make their den more sturdy to protect the bunnies (it was a bunny hotel…); or figuring out how best to throw the blade of grass to make a noise – the list honestly goes on and on.
// the excitement when they achieve something and they just HAVE to share it with someone and/or teach them how to do it ‘flick your wrist and aim for the person you’re throwing at…’ (Frisbee-ing…)
What does it sound like?
// sometimes, complete silence as they beaver away.
// or the opposite – eager chatter wanting to share, or discussions trying to change, improve or discover.
// shrieks of delight or the more masculine yesssss as they achieve a step.
What does it feel like?
// I can’t speak on behalf of the children and when I asked them, the inevitable ‘epic’ was their response. After further discussion, one girl, who had taken the whole hour and a half walk just to get a ‘parp’ out of a blade of grass was thrilled and said ‘I’ve spent SO long doing this and it paid off, I’m going to show Mrs so and so! Can we practise more on the way home?’ To me, this suggests that she felt chuffed to have worked hard and felt eager to learn more to make it better.
// For me, it feels like nothing else. Hearing and seeing these displays of enthusiasm for small things that I’ve taught them or they’ve taught themselves/each other is incredible to witness. Knowing that not only can they blow grass whistles (great), but they have demonstrated the curiosity which is needed in life to want to acquire a new skill – I wasn’t forcing them to do it, I just started playing!
These are ‘real’ skills that they’ve learned, but the ‘real learning’ was the processes that they’ve gone through to acquire these skills (even if they’ve not quite got there yet): perseverance, resilience, curiosity, enthusiasm etc – all the key words used in school, but never as truly demonstrated than outside of it; oh, the irony!
Our team discussed over lunch preparation the different attitudes to learning new things that the children have displayed out here compared to in the classroom:
// they weren’t scared to ask their friend how they make their frisbee ‘do that’. Yet, would they do the same in maths?
// they enjoyed sharing the experience with their teachers – I’ve never felt so popular!! I’ve asked them to show me how to do things too (I’m definitely not a born cartwheeler, but I kept trying!) Yet, how many times do we get some child at the end of the lesson say ‘I didn’t get it’ – so why didn’t you aask?!
They were actively seeking out learning experiences, without us providing them with learning objectives nor success criteria.
So now I (we?) have half term to ponder some more. How am I going to change this? How are we, as a class and a year group, going to get this real, genuine learning happening? Learning that is devoured and independently sought out as much as it has been these last few days. Is it really just a matter of changing their and our mindsets or is there more that we can do within our planning/structure at school?
Excuse the tired ramblings; my mind is abuzz with thoughts wriggling about all over the place!