Planning a Learning Powered Classroom

This blogpost has been published to relate directly to my talk at The 10th Festival of Education at Wellington College. It is an opportunity for practitioners to digest key points from the talk, input ideas, reflect and ask questions. I welcome questions, ideas and wonderings in the comments section at the end of this blogpost.

The aim of my talk and this blogpost is to empower you to plan and co-create a learning powered classroom next academic year. Be brave – take the first steps!

What’s the Point of School?

The first book that made me reflect on and this question was Guy Claxton’s book, “What’s the Point of School?” I read it over 10 years ago and I can still remember the sleepless night that followed, thinking, “This is the way things should be. This needs to be at the heart of education.” 10 years later and I’m still reflecting on the same questions:

  • What do we want children to learn at school?
  • How do children learn? How do they become more adept, agile learners?
  • How can we make world education systems more engaging, motivating and purposeful for the children in their care?
  • How are different teachers, parents, leaders, schools, countries approaching this question?

This video depicts some of my thinking around these questions. The child in the video, caught on someone’s I-phone, shows incredible resilience. His classmates moved me to tears. I couldn’t help rooting for this boy who showed such an utter commitment to achieving his goal in front of an audience of grown ups (and now the world!):

How can we cultivate these attitudes to learning within a classroom environment?

The Mayonnaise Metaphor – integrating the LPA

In “The Learning Power Approach” Guy Claxton outlines the latest thinking around Learning Power – What elements of learning are me aiming to strengthen? What are the design principles of a Learning Powered classroom? What is the science and research behind the LPA? Which leading educational minds are developing Learning Powered Approaches?

In relation to classroom practitioners developing learning power, Guy uses the “mayonnaise metaphor” – the aim is to tweak our practice, little by little to build a learning powered classroom. Too much, and everything will fall apart; too little and nothing with change (just like adding oil to egg yolks when you make homemade mayonnaise).

So, our aim is to pay conscious attention to our practice and, little by little, to make small adaptations to develop learning power in our children. These changes will include:

  • Changes to language, body language, interaction with adults and children
  • Planning in ways to strengthen our children’s learning capacities within lessons.
  • Involving the children in their learning journey and being open about developing learning power – What do they have to say? Why do they think it’s important?
  • Finding age-appropriate, inspiring ways to introduce the main concepts in learning power (Including Design Principles and Elements of learning power, both of which are outlined and explained in more detail in “Powering Up Children”)
  • Using the learning environment to strengthen and boost learning power
  • Finding ways to link with and communicate with parents and colleagues to deepen the impact of learning power.

Ideally, these elements should all develop in parallel. The first two are perhaps the most important. For example, it will be no use developing the learning environment to reflect learning power if your language and attitudes and sending the children opposing messages. Try to pay attention to the first points to begin with, then use the learning environment to boost the developments you are making.

5 steps to a Learning Powered Classroom:

Below are 5 top tips to develop a learning powered classroom. This is in no way a comprehensive list. It’s just some pointers to get you started and to help you keep the ball rolling in developing learning power with your learners. They are steps I have found very useful to keep myself on track.

You can use this link to dip into my year one classroom from this academic year. You can see how the learning environment I have developed with my children reflects each point. It might be a worthwhile exercise to cross-reference points on this Thinglink with the Design Principles and Elements of learning power. Ask yourself:

  • How is this embedding and reflecting the design principles of a learning powered classroom?
  • Which elements of learning power is this valuing and strengthening? How?
  • How might I develop similar ideas in my learning environment? How can I make this work in my context with my learners?

I would love to hear your thoughts on developing learning power. What have you tried so far? What changes have you noticed in your learners? What are your questions? Do you have any potential barriers and how are you going to overcome them?

I am looking forward to reading your responses! #onlyconnect


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