Start from the learning…

Do you plan engaging activities for your class? Do you look at your topic and think about how you can teach it in the most exciting way? Do you explore new tech tools and think about how you can incorporate them into your teaching? Do you examine your classroom space and think about how best to teach in it?

If you answered yes, you might be feeling pleased with yourself and so you should. After all, there are some teachers who don’t even use tech to support their teaching. And some who simply hand out worksheets or stand out front and teach in the same old ways they always have.

But you might not be starting at the right place. I think it’s important to focus more on learning and less on teaching. Have you considered what you believe about how learning best takes place? Has your school articulated its beliefs about learning? Have you? If you follow this blog, you’ll have seen our learning principles and possibly even read about the process of developing them.

To support our teachers in their unit planning, in improving their practice, in the best use of our flexible learning environment and in the implementation of technology, our approach this year will be to start from our learning principles. We plan to unpack the belief statements one at a time, consider what they might look like and how they might play out in the classroom, like this…

Principle #1: We learn in different ways, depending on abilities, learning styles, preferences and interests.

So…

  • Students have choices.
  • Small groups are engaged in different things.
  • Learning is expressed through drama, art, music, movement and technology.
  • The teacher isn’t talking at the whole class at once.
  • There is individual attention for those who require it.
  • Independent learners are applying their learning unassisted.
  • There are clear scaffolds in place for learners to manage their own learning.
  • The learning environment is arranged to accommodate the variations.

What’s your learning goal? Use new vocabulary in context? Create a literature response? Develop problem-solving skills? Understand a particular mathematical concept? Compare the life cycles of  living things?  See above first…

NOW plan your learning experiences!

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9 thoughts on “Start from the learning…

  1. Fiona

    Once again you have pushed me to look honestly at my teaching practice! That whole idea of putting belief into practice – my constant struggle! The lessons I have run in this last week have not been about learning, but a vehicle to disseminate facts/information. I was bored and I’m sure the students were too! The only fun part was the last 10 mins when we all got to get up off our chairs and explore the LRC. It made me feel like a kid at a birthday party enjoying a treasure hunt! Why didn’t I bother to make the first part of the lesson just as engaging? I have some answers to that question, but I confess I’m a bit ashamed! My goal this year is to shift my practice in line with my passionate beliefs about learning! To do this I will need to allow myself time; to learn to say “no” or at least “not just at the moment”.

    Reply
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  3. Alfonso Gonzalez

    Thank you for reminding us what it’s all about. I will use your ideas to add to a document I started where we’re adding best teaching, nah, learning, practices. I’ve been reading so many great ideas like this blog so I thought it would be great to have it all in one place. If you have a moment check it and see if we have what you wrote about here.

    https://docs.google.com/a/csd49.org/document/d/1qyS68UMl-LrlUffCvHJecI8boeWLUmf9niMwjj3SQOE/edit?hl=en#

    Reply
  4. Sylvia

    Our district changed the teaching evaluation system this year, so I really appreciated your statement …”it’s important to focus more on learning and less on teaching.” Thanks for sharing the practical questions and ideas.

    Reply
  5. ktenkely

    Edna, this is such an important distinction and one that I think many teachers struggle with. There is a marked difference in starting to plan from the learning and starting to plan from the teaching. The first part of your post is just a portion of the bigger picture. The focus always has to be the learning, and more importantly, the learner. Great distiction!

    Reply
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