Primary school programme – overview
Building Better Learners
Building Better Learners is TLO’s professional development programme for primary schools looking to embed learning power into their school life as a strategic development.
Building Better Learners is designed for whole-school implementation, with the aim of helping the school become fully ‘learning powered’. A school will typically take three years to work through the full programme; although some schools spread the programme over a longer period. So this is definitely a strategic investment in professional development and school improvement.
The major part of the programme is based on a suite of online materials, designed to blend with teachers’ daily practice and regular professional development.
The online programme is supplemented by a small number of live interactive online sessions led by TLO’s Principal Consultants. The mix is variable, at the school’s choice: from an almost purely online programme (with some additional resources), to several live sessions per year. As the world moves out of the more severe Covid-related restrictions, live in-school professional development sessions can also play a part in the blend.
Building Better Learners: Phase 1
The programme is designed around a model of professional development based on what we call professional learning teams; elsewhere, these may be called teacher learning communities, professional learning communities, or similar. Essentially, groups of about six to eight teachers who meet regularly — perhaps every four to six weeks — to focus exclusively on developing their practice with learning power, as they move through the programme together.
The two phases of online courses that make up most of the programme are structured in ‘units’, each of which relates to one such meeting cycle. There are about twenty units in all; all can be revisited as necessary. Hence the roughly monthly rhythm of team meetings implies an expected minimum time to work through the full programme of nearer three years than two.
Major Components of the programme
As illustrated in the diagram, Building Better Learners is structured in two phases, each built around one of the two online courses.
Phase 1 is built around the online course Playing the Learning Power Game (eight units).
This is complemented by online resources:
- Finding Learning Power sits alongside the course, for teachers to use throughout its duration.
- Leading the Learning Power Game supports the school leaders who will be responsible for the programme as it unfolds, including preparing to launch the whole programme in the school.
As preparation for the course, and indeed the whole programme, there is a choice of three ways of launching it.
- In-school launch by TLO trainers, typically a full school-closure day.
- ‘Zoom-assisted’ launch: this includes a small number of live virtual consultancy and training sessions, for both leadership staff and general teaching staff. Sessions are typically scheduled to last 75–90 minutes.
- ‘Do It Yourself’: In school launch led by senior leaders using the comprehensive launch-related resources provided within Leading the Learning Power Game.
Building Better Learners: Phase 2
Phase 2 is built round the online course The Professional Learning Power Game (thirteen units).
- The Finding Learning Power resource continues to sit alongside the course, to be called on as teachers move through the units.
- The Reviewing Learning resource similarly sits alongside the course, again available for use from time to time when a team wishes to take stock of its progress.
Both phases of the core programme can be optionally augmented by further live virtual consultancy sessions, typically scheduled to last 75–90 minutes, and with associated resources.
Other items that may be helpful include the online BLP Activity Banks; the downloadable Learning Habits at a Glance cards; books and classroom posters. Information about all these can be found in the Publications section of the website.
In particular, a standard but optional starter pack of printed publications — books, posters, etc. — is offered with Phase 1 of Building Better Learners.
Schools that have taken building better learning seriously have quickly realised the centrality of professional development in making it work.
Changing the habits of a professional lifetime is not simple. It involves un-learning and re-learning: unpicking, readjusting, trying things out and seeing what works. It’s about staff using their own learning power to effect changes in themselves. Becoming proficient, and then developing further so that the ‘new approach’ becomes second nature, takes time and effort.
Find out more:
More detailed descriptions of the programme’s components can be found via the buttons below:
Building Better Learners: Phase 1
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