What the Coronavirus has taught me about effective teaching and learning.

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A safe pair of hands?

I expect by now, most teachers have received the request to teach their students how to wash their hands properly. A perfectly sensible request, at a critical time.

I was ahead of the game, of course. I had decided before then, that I wanted to do my best to keep the students and myself safe. So, from day one, I established a hand washing routine. I wanted success. And I knew we could achieve success (of every student washing their hands properly) if we did it right. This would not be a guarantee that we would remain virus free but at least we would do our best at keeping ourselves safe.

So, I established a routine. The routine meant I always had an adult supervising and modelling the correct way to wash and dry one’s hands. Some students needed support, some didn’t. It meant making the hand washing activity a fixed event in the daily classroom routines. There was no drama or cajoling. But there was lots of positive reinforcement and gentle correction.

Over time the students got a sense of “this is how we roll”. The expectation was reasonable and communicated well. A reasonable request was met with a reasonable response. Weeks later, the hand washing routine has become well established and has become integrated into the classroom routine. No sweat.

So what’s the point I am trying to make?

The situation I describe above has made me aware of the disconnect that currently exists between teaching and learning. Typically, the teaching model that I see being perpetuated is one that is intent on doing “teachy things” without sufficient awareness of the impact it is having on the recipients’ learning. As in, “I have shown/taught the students how to wash their hands….job done”.

In my approach, I have asked myself, “what do I want the students to learn/achieve”? I have then proceeded to design a teaching/learning model that best creates that learning. I then observe the outcome and modify the teaching/modelling as necessary. It’s powerful. It works. And it allows me to answer, pretty accurately and honestly, the two most powerful questions that a teacher can be asking…

“How effective is my teaching? and What is my impact?”

John Hattie would be proud of me I reckon.

Ease Education: Teaching at a human scale.

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