Appendix 7: Building learning power in a school

The Building Powerful Learners model is one way of illustrating the conditions for effective teaching and learning. The material in this appendix is taken directly from the Building Learning Power website.

How it all works.

The holistic model below shows aspects of student learning, teacher practice and school processes that are influenced by taking up the Building Learning Power approach to education. We would be kidding ourselves if we thought that ‘doing learning power’ meant little more than a few tweaks in classroom practice. Doing it ‘right’ rather than ‘lite’ takes us deep into how supple learning minds grow, how teachers’ everyday practice needs to be developed, what it means to ‘lead learning’ and how parents can be brought into the action.

This diagram is made up of nine hexagon boxes showing each role in creating powerful learners. Through affording cultures, supple learning minds and in schools that learn.

The student role

Students build supple learning minds by

Using a language that powers learning

This box is called language of learning

A rich and evolving language of learning, recognising its emotional, cognitive, social and strategic dimensions, permeates learning across the school and its community.

Students are confident and fluent in using the language of learning to describe and understand themselves as learners in a wide range of contexts.

Building the skills of powerful learners and broadening where and how often they use them

This box is called progression

A broad map of progression in the development of learning dispositions is infused into the curriculum, built into the design of lessons and motivates students to improve.

Students record, reflect on and articulate their growth as supple-learning minded, independent learners.

The teacher role

Teachers help students to stretch and develop their supple learning minds by:

Creating rich learning environments in classrooms

This box is called enabling enviroments

The learning environment is used constructively to promote positive learning behaviours and reinforce positive messages about the nature of learning.

Classroom cultures promote speculative approaches, challenging learning, the growth of learning mindsets, collaborative activity and positive messages about learning.

Teaching the how with the what of learning

This box is called infusing content and process

Teaching methodologies and learning opportunities intrigue and motivate learners, develop effective learning habits and enhance content acquisition.

Teachers explain the nature of learning habits, train students to use them, design lessons to exercise them, generate feedback on the use of learning habits and model them confidently.

Using a coaching approach to learning

This box is call coaching approach

Teachers use a coaching approach with students; they stay curious, their questioning helps to unearth and progress students’ learning behaviours, they join in a quest of discovery, they offer commentary and re-frame learning experiences and they secure a commitment to learning.

Students too are trained to act as coaches to each other and thereby encourage others to go beyond what they thought they were capable of.

The school generates a vision and culture of learning by:

Leading to empower learning

This box is called leadership for learning

The school has a vision for learning (predicated on ‘learning is learnable’), which is embedded in its culture, policies and recognised outcomes.

Leading the development of learning becomes everyone’s concern. School leaders, teachers and students work towards becoming leaders of their own learning in a school that learns.

Leadership styles foster dialogue and exploration, empower risk taking, and self monitoring becomes an act of discovery for improvement.

Creating a culture of enquiry for staff

This box is called professional learning teams

The school supports teachers to form and sustain formal Professional Learning Communities to share, probe and deepen the learning how to learn culture and classroom practice.

Teacher learning enquiries help drive the school’s development.

This box is called Learning under review

Reviews of learning engage all staff and students to provide valuable evaluative data on which to build future development.

Learning Reviews include observations of learning in classrooms, interviews with teachers, surveys of the learning environment. They are viewed as an important collaborative vehicle for teacher development.

Involving parents in building their child’s zest for learning

This box is called involving others

The school works in partnership with parents and carers to develop learning dispositions in students.

Parents are kept informed effectively of their child’s progress in developing learning habits. The school offers guidelines and examples of how parents can best support the development of their child’s learning habits in life outside school.