Last time I wrote I was talking about the Game of School and sharing what I consider to be some of the unwritten rules of the game which could be quite disheartening for some so I thought today I would offer some new rules that could change the game.
The game of school does not need to be about winners and losers. It does not have to be one size fits all. We do not have to learn or achieve in the same way.
So if we are to look at classrooms/schools as learning communities here are some possible new rules to replace those old school rules I spoke about last time:
- As part of our learning community you are important. It is important for us to get to know each other. I want to know what you are interested in learning about, what you love to do then we can find ways for your interests to be included in your learning programme. It is also important that we learn ways to work together in this shared space effectively so we can ensure everyone has the opportunity to learn... let's work together on this.
- In our learning community knowing the conditions that you learn best in is important. Do you like bright lights or darker spaces? Do you enjoy reading and writing, drawing, presenting orally or some other way to share your learning? Do you like to go outside or stay inside to learn? Do you like to work with others or prefer to work on your own? Do you learn more often by watching or learn by doing? There will be opportunities and spaces for you to learn in your best way, and you will get really good at managing your choices when the conditions aren't ideal too.
- How are you feeling today? Our feelings can make a difference to how we behave and sometimes they can make it harder for us to learn. Knowing about our feelings and being able to express them in a positive way is valued in our learning community.... if you need someone to talk to remember that there are lots of people here who will listen including your teacher.
- We are all learners in this community. I am given the role of teacher because I know a bit about the brain and learning and things like that but I don't have all the answers. I look forward to learning with you.
- Learning doesn't stop when the bell rings... we are learning all the time. Everything we do changes our brain so when you are playing with your friends you are learning, when you are walking home from school you are learning, when you are at practices you are learning, when you are playing video games you are learning, when you are talking to your family at the dinner table you are learning... you get the picture.
- We can learn in so many different ways, sitting and writing silently is one way but not THE way. We can talk to learn so please ask questions and share your understandings with others. We can move to learn, I often find that some of my best ideas come when I am walking so if you need to have a little walk to help your brain think then get moving. Music can help us learn too, so if you want to put what you are learning to music or share your learning through a song then go for it. Some people like to draw to learn, if this helps you clarify your thinking or build new ideas then by all means draw to learn. If you like to write notes, stories, essays or maps to help you think and learn that is great too. Some people prefer to read to learn, others like to watch or listen. We might like different ways of learning at different times or for different topics... this is OK. Talk to your teachers about this and see if they can help. You will be given many opportunities to learn in lots of different ways so you can discover what works for you and develop skills you might not even know you have.
- My job as the teacher is to help you discover your talents and develop skills. Sometimes this will be really hard but don't worry, our brains like a challenge. Sometimes this means you might need to do things you don't like, that can happen but we will help as much as we can. What we will do to help is work with you to understand why learning this might be useful or important. We will work with you so we are all clear about what being successful in a particular skill might look like. People in your learning community will give you feedback as you go along and we will help you set goals for your learning as well.
This is just a start of what I think the new rules of schools should look like. Putting the energy and emphasis on the learner and their needs whilst building a co-operative learning environment where the work we undertake is meaningful and purposeful.
Much of what I have written is happening in the hearts and minds of educators and I believe there is an intent in the Modern Learning Environment movement to further enhance this. How can we move rules and expectations like this to sit above the old rules of school though? Perhaps part of the answer lies in where we choose to put our energy and focus, how we approach our role and how we talk about teaching and learning in our schools and communities.
On reflection I think we are moving forward.
On reflection I think we are moving forward.