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Learning Habits in a Nutshell – Phase 1

Delivery: Online
Timescale: A years worth of online material
Objectives: enable lead teachers to train colleagues so that they can put learning habits rapidly into their classrooms.

The programme consists of ten online sessions, each expected to take at least four to six weeks to implement in classrooms. The programme includes a resource Strategic issues and coaching notes for senior leaders and team leaders offering guidance on how the sessions might best be used.  

There are ten sessions:

  1. A culture for building powerful learners
  2. Building active participation
  3. Building shared responsibility
  4. Building dialogue and collaboration
  5. Progress in Perseverance – a short information unit
  6. Engaging students in unsticking their learning
  7. Engaging students in rising to the challenge
  8. Engaging students in managing distractions
  9. Engaging students in achieving goals
  10. Reviewing our progress

Each online session is divided into four sections:

Three sections which teachers look at individually

Teachers work their way through the materials at a time and place to suit them. The three sections will usually take a total of about 30-45 minutes to work through and think about. The materials introduce new thinking and practical ideas for staff to get their heads around prior to their team session.

A Professional Learning Team meeting section

Staff come together as learning teams at approximately monthly intervals (typically six to eight staff per team). They share and discuss how they have moved their practice to learning friendly cultures, consider new material introduced in the online learning sessions, and plan learning enquiries to be implemented in the next month. Each team session is planned to last about an hour.

The online sessions in detail: 

1. A Culture for building Powerful Learners

Best used as the first session, this session unpicks the meaning of classroom cultures; offers a learning power culture instrument to assess where your classroom culture is now; explores shifting relationships in learning friendly classrooms and suggests ways to ready your culture for learning.
  • 1 Learning cultures. A big shift? 
    • Unpick the meaning of classroom cultures, what they might consist of and the big shifts that may be needed to develop better learning. Use the culture tool to estimate where your classroom culture is now.
  • 2 Learning friendly cultures; Lots of little shifts. 
    • Find out about the four big dimensions of culture and use the culture tool 2 to estimate the sorts of shifts your classroom culture would benefit from.
  • 3 Your classroom culture. Some ideas to get you started. 
    • Look for ideas to strengthen your learner/learning classroom culture.
  • 4 Team reflection and planning.
    • Share the results of your culture analysis with colleagues. Make plans for what everyone needs to do and what you will each do individually.

 

The following three sessions aim to help teachers to explore and work on specific aspects of and shifts in learning friendly cultures. They can be taken in any order.

 

2. Building active participation

This session support teachers to explore and experiment with ideas that counter student passivity and build active participation. It includes sections on the meaning of active participation; a review tool to consider the extent to which students are currently actively participating; some classroom ideas that support active participation; guidance on experiments to create active participators; and a review tool to evaluate the impact of those experiments.

3. Building Shared Responsibility

This session supports teachers to explore and experiment with ideas that counter learner dependency and learned helplessness, and that begin to move responsibility for learning towards students. It includes sections on what we mean by sharing responsibility for learning; a review tool to consider the extent to which students currently exercise responsibility; some classroom ideas that support the gradual devolution of responsibility to students; guidance about how you might experiment to create students who are willing and able to take on such responsibility; and a review tool to evaluate the impact of those experiments.

4. Building Dialogue and Collaboration

This session enables teachers to explore and experiment with ideas that lay the foundations for classrooms becoming dialogue-rich communities of learners. It includes sections on what we mean by a community of learners; a review tool to consider the extent to which students currently act as a learning community; some classroom ideas that support the move towards building a community of learners; guidance about how you might experiment to create a learning community in your own classroom; and a review tool to evaluate the impact of those experiments.  

Beyond establishing classrooms as communities of learning, schools find that many of their students still need to get better at tolerating the feelings of learning and improve their perseverance. Hence the programme now delves deeply into Perseverance in an attempt to develop students’ learning-positive attitudes.

 

5. Progress in Perseverance

Perseverance is key to the learning journey. It is vital that students are able to get to grips with the knotty emotions of learning, and can view and use them positively as aids to the journey, not as setbacks. This mini-session is an information unit, it does not suggest practical ideas for improvement. As such it should be coupled with one of the four perseverance sessions below.

This Unit aims to:

  • help teachers to explore the components of the big picture of perseverance, how it’s made up
  • analyse where their students currently function in relation to progress in perseverance
  • look briefly at their own practice in developing a perseverant friendly culture
 

The following four sessions delve deeper into each aspect of perseverance, helping students’ to grow learning-friendly attitudes.

 

6. Engage students in unsticking their learning.

This session aims to:

  • help teachers to analyse how  their students behave and feel about being stuck;
  • look at their own classroom practice in developing a ‘stuck’-friendly culture;
  • suggest practical strategies to increase students’ skill and confidence in dealing with being stuck;
  • assist teachers to adapt their practice using a learning enquiry method (Team reflection and planning).

7. Engage students in rising to the Challenge

This session aims to:

  • help teachers to analyse how their students’ feel and behave when faced with challenge
  • look at their own classroom practice in developing a learning-challenge-friendly culture
  • suggest practical strategies to increase students’ skill and confidence in dealing with challenge
  • assist teachers to adapt their practice using a learning enquiry method (Team reflection and planning). 

8. Engage students in Managing Distractions.

This session aims to:

  • help teachers to analyse their students’ awareness of and strategies for being distracted
  • look at their own practice in developing a learning culture that helps students to maintain focus
  • suggest practical strategies to increase students’ skill and confidence in dealing with internal and external distractions
  • assist teachers to adapt their practice using a learning enquiry method (Team reflection and planning).

9. Engage students in achieving Goals.

This session aims to:

  • help teachers to analyse how their students think and feel about pursuing goals
  • look at their own classroom practice in developing a goal friendly culture
  • suggest practical strategies to increase students’ skill and confidence in pursuing goals
  • assist teachers to adapt their practice using a learning enquiry method (Team reflection and planning).
 

The final session in Nutshells Phase 1 is designed to enable you to review your progress so far.

10. Reviewing our progress

A rich variety of tools help you review your progress in developing a learning culture in your classrooms. This review will provide you with relevant information on which to base your approach in the next phase of building students’ learning powers.

Sections 1 – 4 consider:

  1. Reflecting on your changing practice  
    • Looking at what you have done and how your classroom has changed. This section answers the question “How far have you come?”
  2. Giving students a voice   
    • Finding out how your students have benefitted. This section answers the question “How well have the students taken to this way of learning?”
  3. Learning with and from colleagues
    • Learning from learning walks and observations. This section answers the question “What are the variations on the theme and what can I learn from these variations?”
  4. Team session: Learning together    
    • Putting your heads together and thinking “what next?” This team session answers the questions “How are we doing, how are our students doing and where do we need to go next?”