by Susie Clifford, Director of Learning
When we spend time in a classroom, we are looking to see how students are learning, what they are learning, how they have built on previous learning and what their next steps might be. Our conversations centre around the skills, knowledge and concepts they are developing and how they are applying these to develop their understandings and dispositions. We look for ways students can build connections, expand their thinking and take action to become better versions of themselves and to make a difference in their world. We are looking at the learner and looking for their learning.
The learning in our classrooms is created around objectives, outcomes and a curriculum. Along the way, we collect evidence and information about our learners and their learning to ensure there is growth and development. We share our observations with the students and help them reflect on their own pathway. This remains true in our Continuous Learning Program. It continues with the same passion, care and commitment that is in our classrooms. The teachers and students share the same goals and they have the same purpose. It is just that the learning looks different and it feels different. We are all on a learning journey together as we are in a new learning context and it is one that is unexpected.
When we look for learning, we look at the learner, not the content. We think about how they are growing and changing. We think about what they know now that they didn’t before or what they understand more deeply or differently. It is incredibly exciting to see how our students are developing in the current context. The skills, knowledge and understandings our students have developed over the past two months is notable; as is the resilience, perseverance and emotional management our students continue to show. This is not by chance. This is by careful design of our teachers with the support of our community. Our students continue to grow because the Continuous Learning Program has been designed for our students by our teachers. It works because our teachers know their students and have created learning experiences that will continue to support and extend their growth and development.
As parents, we get to see learning much closer than we ever have. We are able to sit beside our children and get insight into how they learn, how they face challenges, how they extend their own thinking and respond to growth. We get to see them learn. And between the challenges that this may bring, it also brings great joy...when we look for learning. When you sit beside your child next time, look for learning:
- What skills are they practising?
- What ideas are they exploring?
- How are they questioning?
- What do they know now that they didn’t yesterday?
- What understandings are they developing through the concepts they are tackling?
- And what are they going to do with their new knowledge and skills?
Learning is not just about the ‘what’ - it is about the ‘who’. And the ‘who’ is your child. And a curriculum doesn’t develop your child alone, it is the people in their life that do this. At YIS, we are lucky to have a community who do this together and teachers who remember that they are teaching a person, not a curriculum. Teaching is not a job for any of us at YIS; teaching is who we are.
Like our children, our teachers have developed new skills, and built upon their knowledge and understandings over the past two months. The Continuous Learning Program is not a way of learning we would choose, it is a response to a situation out of our hands. Our teachers work hard to create learning experiences that stay true to our philosophy of learning, our outcomes and objectives, our mission and our values. Teachers have researched, explored, collaborated, asked questions, taken risks, tried new ideas and modified programs in order to respond to the needs of our students in our current context. This is where our YIS community is so central to our success - the belief of our YIS community enables teachers the space and trust to grow and develop alongside the students.
If you wonder: Is my child still learning? sit beside them and watch and listen and look for learning. Explore what they are thinking and what is changing. Look with fresh eyes at the person and learner beside you and I imagine you will be excited by what you see. Remember that we know your child is still learning; we know how they are learning and where they need to go next. We are looking at all the ways they show their learning. And this knowledge informs our planning - from our lessons each day to our curriculum across the school and all the conversations in between.
In this context of Continuous Learning there is so much learning. It looks different and it feels different. The learning is different to what we may have expected, and we will know this as we continue planning for the remainder of the year and beyond. We will also celebrate and build on the learning that has happened through our Continuous Learning Program. It is seeing children grow, develop and learn that inspires us to do what we do. I hope you can take some time to notice and celebrate the learning you are seeing in your child, and share with them the learning you are seeing. The strength of learning at YIS is because of the people: our students - our teachers - our parents...and we make quite a team.