Mindful as I am of the miniscule amount of content that any human is willing or capable of absorbing, then storing in long-term memory and then committing to a practice change from any PL day, I strive to maximise my limited opportunity.
The temptation is to cover more content, to design better PowerPoint slides and to play icebreaker games to “get them moving”. It doesn’t work. These attempts are about me … and my learning environment is explicitly learner-centered.
So I took some time to investigate the affects that people articulate as those that best enhance their learning. We talk a lot about safety in the classroom – but how sure are we that feeling safe is really the optimum, or even the only, feeling that helps?
I’ve synthesized some of this research into five feelings that seem to enhance learning and transformation:
- Inspiration – as understated as Australians are, we do like to get just a bit fired up.
- Challenge – it seems we really do love learning environments where expectations are high.
- Provocation – a good argmument about what matters, where both sides are prepared to be wrong, is a great tool sharpener when it comes to practice.
- Strengthening – we respond positively when prior knowledge and achievements are built upon.
- Connection – put simply, we absorb more knowledge and learn more deeply in the company and collaboration of others.
It poses the question of whether our students at school are really so different to us. When was the last time your students were inspired by you, provoked by you or compelled to solve a big problem as a team?
Maybe it’s time we got a little more serious and a little more explicit about the feelings that are generated in schools, if we wish to maximise output and outcome. And maybe again, it isn’t only about playing it safe.