I love this moment – When thinking merges, expands, comes together, overlaps – In the Learning Pioneers and PressPlay communities and Masterminds, we have been exploring powerful “Learnish” – A term coined by Professor Guy Claxton which describes language which can purposefully support and promote learning. We have explored this in 3 key ways:

“Learnish” for a psychologically safe classroom

In the Learning Pioneers Leadership Mastermind, we have been inquiring into what makes a psychologically safe classroom. We think this is pretty key because psychologically safe classrooms:

  • Are inclusive
  • Purposefully create a feeling of safety, so learners can use this as a launchpad to take risks
  • Promote active, collaborative, challenging learning.

We think it’s important to gain conscious competence in how we do this and to share and walk this journey with all staff and children so they understand how to build psychologically safe classrooms. We came up with these key points as to how practitioners create a feeling of safety in their classrooms:

As always, this thinking is a work in progress. We’d love to know:

  • How do you purposefully create a psychologically safe classroom?
  • Do these structures, processes and ideas resonate with you and your teaching? Which do you feel you are strong at? Which would you like to learn more about?
  • What would you add to create a psychologically safe classroom?

As a follow up to this discussion in our Masterminds, we further explored how teachers create the atmosphere of a psychologically safe classroom. For example, we shared this “Learnish” that teachers might use to model that it’s safe to learn and wonder in our classrooms:

“I wonder …” (modelling open-ended curiosity)

“That’s interesting, I’ve never thought of X that way …” (modelling always being open to new thinking, valuing all ideas)

“Thanks for sharing that, now I’m wondering …” (showing how children’s contributions can also develop our own thinking)

“Since you’ve listened to X’s idea, has your thinking changed in any way?” (modelling that it’s okay to change stance/opinion)

What “Learnish” would you add to that list?

“Learnish” and Thinking Routines for developing creativity and creative thinking

This is our current provocation in the Learning Pioneers Community.

  • What “Learnish” do we use to promote creativity?
  • Which Thinking Routines create a structure for creative thinking?

As part of our discussion, we referred back to our learning and inquiry with Ron Ritchhart, where we developed this process for the journey of a visible thinking teacher:

This helped us to gauge where we were on our journey of developing thinking routines and where we might go next.

  • Which thinking routines do you use to structure creative thinking?
  • What key phrases or words do you consciously use to explore creatively with children?

Thinking Routines for play

In PressPlay, we are inquiring into meaningful interactions with Kym Scott. As part of that, we have explored purposeful scaffolding (which links beautifully with our learning in Learning Pioneers about psychologically safe classrooms!). We have also explored which Thinking Routines can support play. “What makes you think that?” is so easy to thread in at an opportune moment and is a great structure to invite children to share their reasoning skill. Here’s a snippet of Kym talking with the PressPlay community about scaffolding:

So, what a joy! So many links and applications of Learnish and Thinking Routines. We love exploring these in depth because we can fine-tune our practice, gain conscious competence in what we do and, ultimately, impact positively on our students, colleagues and learning communities as a whole. And we love to share! We’d love to hear how you have used and applied thinking routines and Learnish to creativity, play and creating a safe and challenging learning atmosphere in your classrooms.


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