Teaching Year 7 & 8 Pupils to Learn to Love Learning

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Posted by Bethany School

Miss Mills, Head of Years 7 & 8 at Bethany School, gives her latest thoughts as a head of year and explains how to learn to love learning.

In November the Year 7 & 8 tutor team introduced a new approach to target setting. Mr Clough brilliantly came up with the name ‘Einstein Time’ which has stuck! I was initially inspired by Google’s genius hour in which Google employees are allowed to spend 20% of their time pursuing a passion project as this was found to increase productivity. As I read articles and case studies on the concept and how it could be applied in schools, I realised this could be a solution to our question ‘how can we support our tutees to learn about learning?’ The links with the Virtue of Learning and its learning habits – persist, engage, question, react and reflect - became obvious. By basing learning firmly within pupil’s interests, we can create a meaningful context to develop understanding of, and progress within, the habits of learning. Pupils were challenged to give their brain a workout, to improve their awareness of what they are thinking and choose helpful thought processes.

Einstein Time goes hand in hand with further strengthening the tutor’s role in getting to know their tutees, not only pastorally but academically and as learners. Tutors have had the opportunity to discover the varied interests within their groups, and they have also been able to consider how well their tutees engage, react, persist, question and reflect and offer feedback in a low stakes setting. As pupils undertake a project on a topic of their choice, tutors gain first-hand knowledge of learning behaviours and use the language of the grading system as they work. When grades and reports are published, tutors can support target setting across the curriculum with meaningful conversations in context.

Each half term focuses on a different Habit of Learning. The process starts with exploring pupils knowledge of what the effort grades mean, for example ‘what does outstanding engagement look like? How can I tell if my persistence is good or satisfactory?’. The activities and tasks have raised some interesting discussions with the pupils such as the role of fun in learning and how helping others can be of benefit.

I have really enjoyed looking at the projects so far which cover a wide range of interests such as Anime, craft, sport, authors, fashion to name a few. It has created an additional opportunity to identify pupils with common interests and encourage interactions between tutor groups. Until now pupils have presented outcomes to their tutor groups and my hope is that as confidence grows, so can the audience.

- Miss Mills