Musings: Creating a Culture of Learning for Students

There is a global movement for schools and educators to implement and embed formative assessment, personalised learning and approaches such as the 20% approach/passion projects as a means to invigorate student learning.  Of course this is quite simplistic as many factors contribute to support a culture of learning including high expectations for self and students, consistent implementation of student management approaches and knowing where each learner is “at”.  For me, sound pedagogy (i.e.,the method and practice of teaching) is the foundation for creating a culture of learning with students.

Teachers must possess a deep knowledge of curriculum, expected student achievement standards and performance indicators to effectively design teaching and learning programs or we are doing a disservice to our student community.  High Expectations means respecting students enough to be thoroughly planned and prepared for the lesson.  That is having resources at the ready, knowing your learners and presenting each with a task that consolidates and extends their current knowledge and understandings and valuing each student’s attempts through specific feed-back (on what has occurred) and feed-forward (what to focus on next) to make connections with their learning.

Student Management is a learning tool and should not be punitive by nature.  My approach is to co-create expectations for conduct with students to promote buy in and ownership over our class community.  We unpack respect, resilience and responsibility (I promise that most teacher’s “class rules” can fit neatly into these categories) and how these link to us as individual learners, classmates, Unit members and citizens of the whole school community.

From here, I explicitly outline the student management approach that will be implemented within our learning space, being:

  1. non verbal warning (e.g., a look, hand gesture);
  2. request student moves to an alternate space (e.g., spot on the floor or desk);
  3. 1st offical warning;
  4. 2nd official warning;
  5. reflection desk and student/teacher conference;
  6. supported re entry for learning; and
  7. executive intervention

Formative assessment

I’m a firm believer that for the majority of students, if the learning and teaching meets academic need then behaviour almost become a non issue.  In other words, if we meet learners within their zone of proximal development and challenge them with meaningful learning tasks then student engagement follows and behavioural issues decline.  Formative assessment strategies are powerful tools that support teachers to do this, but how do we start this process?

One.. Google “Dylan William formative assessment” and “formative assessment strategies” to commence self initiated learning through professional readings and YouTube presentations. Understand the difference between formative and summative assessment and identify examples of each and trial simple strategies with your students just to get started.  I promise to post more info in another post!

What are your ideas for creating positive learning environments?




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