#thechemistryoflearning - Learning what matters

Happy New Year Everyone.

As we get into gear for a new school year, I hope you are feeling energised and ready for the term ahead.
I look forward to catching you in your inbox and sharing my ideas and thoughts with you throughout the year to come
For me, 2019 is about three things - all of which have learning at the centre.

 All of which we will unpack together throughout the year.

#Learning What Matters 
21C Skills and Dispositions

The demands of the skills and dispositions of the 21st C workforce include collaboration, communication, critical analysis and creative problem-solving. These skills are even more crucial today than they have ever been.

So the landscape of what is essential in education is changing, and schools and educational institutions need to change with it. - But How?
Well, we need to start with WHY...
The “WHY” of schools and educational institutions need to be reset - refined and clarified. When today's educational institutions were set up, they were in place to create citizens who were work ready for an industrial age. The purpose of education was to teach students low-level cognitive skills, train them to perform repetitive tasks quickly and error-free, and eliminate all traces of creativity and innovation. In many cases, that is the system under which many schools still operate. But the tide is shifting - SLOWLY - are you ready?

As I research for my next book - which will be focused on empowering change ready-tribes, I have come to a new level of understanding of myself as a learner. I have begun to realise what has been missing from my journey as a learner throughout my school years and tertiary studies. For me it was creativity. Or to put it more accurately - the opportunity to be creative during learning. My time - initially -was about creating coping mechanisms at school to enable my learning and in the later years - tapping into my creativity to build creative learning opportunities for my students.
For me, Learning was about doing. I am not talking about “doing” a worksheet or even following a method for a science experiment. It was about creating and innovating something new. 

And where did all this creating, innovating and testing happen?  Not at school, but at home. I must have driven my mother crazy with the constant building of things. The mess it made and the simple business of doing can't have been peaceful.
It never occurred to me until recently -  as I began to work on this research - that for me, learning was all about creating - prototyping, giving it a go and learning from the outcomes. I was, and still am, a rapid prototyper. Test, then refine or fail is a typical process for me, and is part of my strengths that I bring to my practice and the work I do with schools.

So How Does All This Translate?...

At school, I would sit in a culture of compliance, passivity. A culture of sittin’ and gettin’. There was no connection to my intrinsic motivation and need to create. At school, I always felt like a failure. I never seemed to be able to play the assessment game particularly well. So I grappled, struggled and felt dumb all the way through school.
It is with a saddened heart, that I observe students like me in classrooms today. 
Part of the research I am doing is about making a change for those grapplers in our classrooms. Making changes by informing and helping teachers re-lens how they think about learning to enable them to innovate learning for all students.

As a teacher - I was an outlier. I liked to do things differently, to innovate new ways of engaging with the learning process and measuring learning in different ways.

For me, learning was about growing the skills of collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity in the context of my subject. I looked for ways to measure learning in ways that didn’t involve a standardised test. The standardised test still happened, but only after we have measured our learning differently.
I was happiest when I was creating in this way. Compliance made me squirm.

As I work with teachers and leaders - nothing has changed. However, as my research progresses and my knowledge and understanding grows and deepens, things get refined and improved. As I work with teams I see anxiety and stress being turned into energy, excitement and the realization that whole system learning will make the difference schools are looking for.

Break out of the mould. Don’t wait for permission. Be strong enough to take risks; to make things better. You can influence things right now, from where you are. Advocate for something better and infinitely richer. Challenge our educational preoccupation with marking, reporting and accounting.
— Welby Ings

Welby Ings in his book - talks about the innovating educators - calling it the disobedient teaching. He encourages teachers to be innovative in the way they approach teaching and learning.

I think today - more than ever - we need to be stepping outside of the norm and doing what really matters and measuring what really matters.

So, I have made it my passion. My passion for energising to action and empowering to change - through creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication - to enable change-ready tribes.
My passion for building a deeper understanding of what these skills and dispositions mean for students, teachers, and school leaders so that we can deepen learning.
Exploring and identifying what it means for the different levels of learner agents in your school and how teachers can innovate and create learning tools for all students - no matter what their capability - to engage with to become #worldready.

So let's make 2019 about the learning and making measures of what matters.


 Go Well…


Couros, George (2015). The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity
Claxton, Guy. The Learning Power Approach: Teaching Learners to Teach Themselves (Corwin Teaching Essentials) (p. 17). SAGE Publications. Kindle Edition.

Ings, Welby. Disobedient Teaching: Surviving and Creating Change in Education. Otago University Press. Kindle Edition.

Wagner, Tony. The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don't Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need—and What We Can Do About It. Basic Books. Kindle Edition.

Tabitha Leonard