A group of eight teachers and two learning assistants are exploring what they have been doing in their classrooms over the last month to build students’ learning power. Each one relates a story of changing practice and its impact on students. Kristina is excited by the wall display she has made with students about the learning muscles they are concentrating on in their split-screen lessons. Arnie speaks movingly about how he is adapting the way he praises students and how this is having a positive effect on how his students see themselves as learners.
Henry speaks of his first attempts at using a split-screen approach in a couple of lessons and how he decided which learning muscle to couple with the content. He had felt a bit daunted by the prospect of teaching in a new way, but was relieved to find that students cottoned on quickly and seemed to benefit from concentrating on the individual learning habits.
Sheena, a learning assistant, talks hesitantly about how she is trying hard not to tell students what to do, but to ask questions like ‘How else could you do that? What else might you try? What would help you to get this better?’ She says it felt as though she wasn’t doing her job to start with but over a couple of weeks she has seen the children taking more control of their learning and becoming more interested.
And so it goes on, everyone taking the opportunity to share what’s been happening—triumphs and difficulties alike. Kirsten, who is facilitating the session, helps her colleagues to tease out some of the knotty issues and explore more deeply—not just what happened, but to mull over why and how and why not. The session moves from a familiar ‘show and tell’ format to a deeper analysis of what makes practice work and what might be needed next.
It is a spirited engagement of professional colleagues who are deeply interested in what helps them to adopt new habits of teaching. They move on to planning what they will do over the coming month, and commit to meeting again to share and explore their endeavours.
These teachers are working in what has been described as a ‘teacher learning community’. They are aware of the multifaceted nature of building students’ learning power and appreciate that it will take sustained effort over time to adapt their long-standing practice. They are taking it step by step, learning from colleagues’ actions as well as their own.