Teachers and learners take risks, deal with failure and learn about realistic goals
January 10, 2013 § 1 Comment
I had the great pleasure of visiting Matthew Moss High School in the UK as part of my research as a NSW Premier’s Scholar. I was investigating aspects of Project Based Learning in Mathematics and the integration of learning outcomes. On the day that we were visiting, the students were participating in an integrated studies day. Year 7 students were code breaking by using their Maths and English skills while Year 8 were volunteering in the community and Year 9 were creating music, art (see pic below) and videos for horror movies.
Let me tell you about the school by commenting on some of their quotes:
“It should be a non-standard day every day” Andy Raymer, Head teacher
In order to engage learners there has to be a sense of new opportunities with flexibility and freedom to learn each day. If students feel monotonous and bored in their approach then they will be restricted in their learning.
“Every learner has there own way of doing things” Middle Years student
Learning is personalised and differentiated at Matthew Moss High School so that students make decisions about their progress. Rather than controlling the classroom experience the staff assist students in developing understanding and thinking skills. This means that students can direct their own learning. Take a look-see at this video which highlights the My World integrated project that students work on for the equivalent of 2 days per week for 2 years.
“Allow staff to make mistakes so that they can learn about new learning methods” Andy Raymer
Teachers are given permission to try new strategies and reflect on their experience so that they can improve learning. Sometimes the risk pays off, other times it doesn’t, but there are always lessons to be learned for the next iteration and attempt. Staff are also clearly identified as fellow learners. The school is a proponent of the Effective Lifelong Learning Inventory (ELLI) and teacher profiles are available for students to see and discuss.
“Don’t tell people what to do, ask them what they need” Mark Moorhouse
When the vision has been cast by a unified leadership team, Mark stated that staff need to be encouraged and supported as opposed to being controlled and supervised. A lot of work has gone into developing a strong learning culture among the staff and their passion was evident. It was an inspirational school to visit and hopefully their influence will continue to grow so that more students may learn.