Partners in Learning

Photo by rawpixel from Burst

Babies and toddlers learn from people they love and that love them, usually their parents, and then, in pre-school and during the first years of elementary school, teachers generally provide not only learning but also active care, taking into account the emotional needs of the child, building a relationship that tends to fade when students get older. Lecturer Jacqueline Zeller’s research  on “Relationships and Learning” highlighted, in 2008, the role that teacher-child relationships can have on learning:  “[…] teacher-child relationships appear to be an important part of children’s social and academic success in school.” 

New Pedagogies and Deep Learning

Nowadays, you can easily find information online on any subject. The focus in school should therefore shift from teaching that superficial knowledge to developing the qualities students need for success in their future adult life: complex understanding and meaning, while being ready to develop in an evolving technological landscape.

In “A seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning” Fullan and Langworthy describe how learning should happen through a partnership between and among students AND teachers, for a transformation of the teaching and learning. This new learning also need to be authentic and problem-solving based.
Deep Learning is about understanding and using the 6 C’s :

Character Education

Citizenship

Collaboration

Communication

Creativity

Critical Thinking

It strikes me how much these have in common with the ISTE Standards for Students, looking at a different perspective, sure, but with similar benchmarks and the same ultimate goal: empowering students and guaranteeing that learning is a student-driven process! Actually not so surprising when you know that ISTE is one of the article’s sponsors: they are advocating for the same ideas and creating tools to encourage educators to be brave and take that road, the one leading to student agency.

If you find (as I did!) that Fullan & Langworthy’s study is a little content-heavy, the video below will give you a helpful overview of the New Pedagogies for Deep Learning. I particularly appreciate that it was developed by “doing it” rather than being a jargon-filled theory put in practice afterward, and, as an international educator, happy to read that it started a synergy between schools in different countries.

How the New Pedagogies are Different

The diagram below summarises how the new pedagogies and deep learning are different from the traditional model of education (image from: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning)

1) Deep learning goals involve the creation and use of new knowledge in the real world.
2) New learning partnerships emerge between and among students and teachers with a learning process whose focal point is mutual discovery, creation, and use of knowledge.
3) It responds to and is enabled by digital access both inside and outside of schools.

My school has always be tried to be current in terms of pedagogy trends and innovations; for example, I remember colleagues attending Harvard Project Zero workshops years ago, then other Professional Developments like Bambi Betts’ PTC Summer Institutes for our Team Leaders, looking at new models of education, implementing inquiry-based learning, continually seeking improvements.
That led to organizing the first Learning by Design conference in March 2017. Its main focus was: A call to re-imagine the way schools facilitate learning, and the themes were: engage, empower, connect, innovate.

In February 2019,  building on the experience, and implementing a more authentic student participation, the second Learning by Design (LbD) conference was: Re-imagining school requires a commitment to changing culture, courageously challenging old assumptions, and a willingness to play with and test new ideas – even if they fail.
Over 450 ISB faculty and staff, educators and international school leaders from other schools, and leading education experts, came together for this event aimed at re-imagining school.
Ten outside experts in a wide range of subjects related to education came as learning facilitators. This last term is a carefully chosen one: the model was not for a conference speaker to deliver his presentation, but for the experts to facilitate the discussions among the participants.

Here are some of the  sessions that were offered:

As I looked through the program today, so much of the conference content resonate differently now, thanks to my new knowledge and understanding brought by the COETAIL program.

Today I can see better how I need to transform my practice to engage differently both with our students and my classroom colleagues, in order to support not only students learning but also OUR learning. The shift to offering more to our community than the traditional library role started a few years ago at our school, but this is a process that I personally need to implement deeper and I am happy my COETAIL journey is helping me to get there.

3 Replies to “Partners in Learning”

  1. I’m happy you go to see Ewan speak. He worked closely with Nanjing International School during my time there, and he’s super insightful and direct. I’ve learned a lot from him.

    You’re not alone in noticing the overlap between curricula, agencies and scholars when it comes to new pedagogies. Sometimes it feels like the same ‘product’ repackaged. I guess it makes sense, if all is based on the same disruptive research coming out. The IB, ISTE, Fullan, all seem to be offering ice cream (or Kool-Aid?) of only slightly different flavors. I, personally, think that’s a good thing because it allows conversations between educators in different systems to be based on level principles (like the 6Cs being fundamental to student development).

    Good luck with course 5!

    1. Hi Luiz,
      Exactly! Usually, when there is a novelty “trend”, some leaders take ownership in slightly different approaches. This is a great way to move forward and re-visit some old practices. And it allows the rest of us to pick up which ice-cream flavor we prefer.
      I am glad you also had Professional Development with Ewan McIntosh: with our school too, his implication was (and still is!) continuous rather than one shot, which has so much more value.

      Thanks, and good luck to you too for Course 5!

  2. Welcome back Christel! It is great how you are seeing connections between COETAIL and some of the other innovations that your school has been part of in recent years. Sometimes immersing ourselves in the WHY and HOW can really help in make shifts in our pedagogy so that our students really are partners in learning.
    PS: I remember watching the tweets roll in from the LbD conference in 2019 and learning from afar.

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