What helps us learn? Students’ view.

I have been asked to help out by teaching another class 6 periods a week.  As always in the PYP, we started by establishing our ‘essential agreement’.  I have blogged before about the process I used with my Year 5 class at the start of the year and, since that was successful, I decided to use the process again with this Year 6 group.  I asked the students to write down, first individually, then compare with their groups, ‘What helps me learn’ and ‘What hinders my learning’. I collated their thoughts  and brought them back for their approval, before using them as a basis for the essential agreement.  We all sign this agreement and constantly refer back to it if we find ourselves going off track and hindering our own or others’ learning.

I was struck, yet again, by how much students understand their own learning.  This is a summary of the things they are aware of :

  • They know that they learn best when there is co-operation and collaboration, but not too much noise.
  • They understand that learning requires mutual respect between students and teachers alike.
  • They know the difference between work and learning, so they don’t value worksheets, but prefer engaging and enjoyable learning experiences.
  • They understand that for learning to be effective, they need to talk quietly  one at a time and not call out.
  • They understand that people learn in different ways, each at their own pace.
  • They know they learn best when they feel safe and supported.

We should  get students to run professional development for us teachers, really we should…

3 thoughts on “What helps us learn? Students’ view.

  1. You are so right, students should run our professional development. I think that as educators we forget to ask ourselves these questions and can forget to consider how are students would answer (or never ask them to know first hand). The answers your students came up with are fantastic. I think I said this the last time you posted about the Essential Agreement, but it is worth saying again. When students are involved in defining and reflecting on what learning looks like to them, it is so much more meaningful!


  2. We don’t always give our students enough credit for their understanding of their own learning. It’s amazing how they can articulate their thoughts and share some sophisticated thinking – they just need us to give them the space to do it.

    We are in the process of organising our state ICT conference and some of the suggestions have been that we should have more students present to share their learning experiences.


  3. What a great way to initiate discussion about essential agreements. At the beginning of the school year, we all signed our class essential agreement.
    About four weeks ago, three students raised concerns about the essential agreement and how they would like to revisit them. We have all changed and gotten to know each other and that is not reflected in our new agreement.


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