If you are a first time reader and are not sure what I am talking about, we have run Learning to Learn for a number of years now as both an integrated part of PHSE and as a discrete course for our Year 9's in preparation for GCSE. Both were not ideal and both had variations on success. Our dream though was, and always has been, to implement this with our Year 7 learners as they entered Brookfield for the first time. We wanted to work with them as soon as possible because this is a time when they are most malleable and receptive to our efforts in creating effective learners.
So what is the thinking behind our L2L programme? Well, its pretty simple really. The whole course is built upon Dweck's mindset theories. At Brookfield, we want learners who recognise things like effort has a big influence on learning, who understand mistakes are good to learn from, who know that easy tasks are pointless if you don't learn anything and like a muscle, your brain can grow stronger through learning. To do this we have adopted the 5R's and renamed them as:
- I am a responsible learner
- I am a determined learner
- I am a resourceful learner
- I am an effective thinker
- I am a reflective learner
Launched it with staff
Our official launch with staff was in the summer term of last year. A copy of the presentation for middle leaders and SLT is here. The staff launch can be found here. At the start of this year I simply used morning briefing and e-mail to remind staff of the programme. It is essential that all staff are involved in the process and collectively promote this programme. The students need the key principles to be reinforced by all teachers in order for the programme to have its full potential. Response from departments so far seems great and I have had a number of excellent learning conversations as a results with colleagues about how it is really helping.
Developed displays around school (and our staff room)
|L@B Display in the English corridor|
Some other areas, including our library, have created their own unique displays (which are fantastic) and once again helped promote the five qualities. In fact, in a general walk around part of the school last week, I found four personalised displays with a L@B focus which is such a positive sign!
|L@B display in our school library|
Talked about responsibility, responsibility, responsibility (our half term focus)
|The page which is found in our student organisers|
|A slide from 'The Big Read' launch in English|
|A slide from the 'team work' lessons in Maths|
Our SIMS system now has L@B merits, including Responsible learner, added to the list. This means that staff can quickly and easily give our specific attribute merits. So far, 4 weeks in, over 700 responsible merit points have been given out. This is excellent and really helps reinforce our focus with learners.
Our students voice of L2L. These are a group of 12 Year 10 students who went through the last L2L discrete subject programme. Each student is linked to one of the 5 attributes and acts as an ambassador. So far these students have helped me plan and run the Year 7 launch assembly. They are a credit to the school! Their next project is to survey and interview randomly selected Year 7 students and ascertain how well the L@B programme is being embedded.
Launching with students (assembly)
Now if you watched the Olympics over the summer, you were probably as inspired by the immense achievements of our athletes as I was. In fact, for the first time, I got a real attachment to the Olympics which I have never had before. I am in awe of the athletes and feel that we can learn a lot from their character, their focus, their training, motivation, commitment...... I also thought that our Year 7's could learn from them as well. So, with the help of my Year 10 champions, we designed an assembly to launch L@B whilst harnessing the power of the Olympics.
The assembly message was simple. Imagine yourselves as 'Olympian learners'. Olympians train hard for four years with the goal of gaining a medal at the event. They put in hours of training, hard work, effort, commitment and dedication. They have regular competitions in between to measure their progress and make amendments if needed. They learn from setbacks and strengthen weaknesses. They have amazing support and dedicated coaches who aim to make them better and experts in their field. Now, remove the sports analogies and replace them with school and learning, and you all are Olympians. In four years you will be in Year 11, preparing for you Olympic competition (exams), with the aim of gaining a medal (A*-C), with the support of your expert coaches (teachers) and have constantly been monitoring your progress and strengths (assessments, feedback....). This 'Olympian Learner' concept is something I will use a lot and hopefully will help students see the qualities they need and the journey they must take.
Languages day link
Every half term we have a focus day. This half term was our schools European Day of Languages on 26th September which we ran with Year 7's. Every focus day has one of our five attributes attached to it, so this half term we had 'I am a Responsible Learner'. The day began with an assembly in which I bridged the link between languages and being a responsible learner. I have to say a huge thank you to Ian Gilbert who helped me put together the speech with some inspirational ideas to share. The day was successful and challenged the students a lot. The principle of being responsible to reinforced throughout and is something we will continue to build upon.
I have talked about these in a previous post (click here) but they are simple colour co-ordinated feedback cards. Each card is linked in colour to one of the 5 attributes. Each card also has a short learner comment, statement, habit or skill which links to that attribute. If a teacher sees a learner demonstrating that particular habit in a lesson, they simply give that student the card which in turn is rewarded with a merit. The card quickly identifies the particular habit that the student has used so the individual knows what the reward is for. By encouraging and reinforcing learners to work in a particular way, it should help them develop positive habits which will make them successful learners (links to Skinners and Thorndike's Reinforcement and Operant conditioning). If you would like a copy of the cards, they can be found here and here. These were e-mailed out to staff to use if they wish and already a number have been passed through our reporgraphics department. I look forward to hearing how well they get used.
Now that's quite a lot of things going on in the first half term but the combination of them all should ensure that our L2L programme has a huge impact. It's the small but manageable details that come together to help create a programme purely designed to benefit our learners. For the rest of the year, we will move onto a new attribute each half term and work through the same structure with individuals. Our aim is to build up students learner qualities and support them in doing so. We believe that if we can help our students become effective learners, then this, mixed with the teaching and learning that goes on in our school, should help set our students up for a successful (Olympian) few years at Brookfield. It's early days and something that we are constantly evaluating, but it's an initiative that we believe could have a huge impact and are excited to see develop.
As always, any comments or thoughts are most welcome. @davidfawcett27