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Teacher’s view: How pupils learn

In this video, hear teachers Janine and Luke share their own thoughts with Helen about how pupils learn.
Everybody has a view of education because everybody’s been to school. But it’s one thing to have been to school. It’s another thing to understand how children learn. So, Luke we’re thinking about how children learn. You both work in secondary school. How do you compensate for that thing called the teenage brain? I think, students learn in loads of ways, loads of different ways. So, in terms of how I try and get students to learn is by giving them a range of different activities that they can experience and that they can engage with. So, as long as they’re always doing something, engaging with something, that might be interesting, it doesn’t always have to be, I hope it is.
they might not think so. But as long as they’re thinking, doing, and active, I think that keeps them learning and ticking over. Janine?
I mean in terms of the teenage brain I think, I think a lot of it is empathy. And just, you know remembering what you were like as a teenager and what you were like when you were in school. What sort of things perhaps you know, you would just be like ‘oh yawn’ and what sort of things, you know, enthuse you and I know that’s not the same for everybody but just putting yourself in their position. What are they experiencing at the moment? You know what, and also over time if, if I have a class I see four times a week, are they having the same diet all the time? Are my lessons structured?
Like you know, we, we do an intro, then we do a practical, then we do a worksheet. Is it like that all the time for them? Or like, as Luke says are you you know mixing it up with different interactive things you getting them on their feet you know, doing different things to keep them engaged and, and yeah, just putting yourself in their position of what they’re experiencing. And then you can plan as much as you like but it might go out the window, if you get half your class turn up and something’s happened in the previous lesson, or lunch or break time. What sort of things Luke?
Oh it could be anything, the weather, it could be pupils having an argument, or a lesson that’s gone incredibly wrong with a previous teacher, or incredibly well. Then you kind of look at what you’ve gotten and you’re hearing what they’re saying and you kind of think ‘well this isn’t going to stand up, I need something else here’. Yeah. I mean you just, I think you learn very early on as a teacher that you cannot hold fast to your lesson plan. You have to be flexible in the moment, and you have to be constantly monitoring and you know, sort of sensing where your kids are and how engaged they are and, and respond to that.
You know, there’s been times and I’ve been like ‘right, OK this is not working, back to our seats let’s do something else’. And I think that, that comes with experience as well. Thinking about again, about children learning. What clues do you pick up, that tell you a child does or doesn’t get something? It’s very dependent on the child.
Sometimes you can get pupils and students who are very, they’re struggling with something and so they completely, they opt out and it’s minus secondary behaviors, disruptive or it might just be ‘I’m going to keep my head down and not say anything and I’m gonna zone out from everything’, daydreaming, that kind of, you can, you can kind of sense, you can very clearly see or learn to see which pupils are engaged, and which ones are either end of the spectrum. I find a lot as well, some children feign
disinterest a lot you know, rather than admit ‘actually I find this challenging and I find this concept difficult to understand’. That is, that is incredibly difficult for some children to admit in the presence of their peers. And so, they will as you say become disruptive and then, the reason that they’re not progressing is not ostensibly because they don’t understand but because ‘I don’t like it, I don’t get it, It’s rubbish, it’s boring, don’t like this teacher’. So they, they then build these other reasons that are actually masking an underlying, you know, low self-esteem, low confidence, perhaps intimidation, or they feel overwhelmed. And I think as a teacher you need to be able to see through that sometimes.
You know, not always, sometimes they’re just disruptive because they just feel like mucking around. But you know, sometimes there are times when you think ‘actually this, this child is struggling and I maybe need to spend some time with them’.

In our second round table discussion, hear Janine and Luke share their own thoughts with Helen about how pupils learn.

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Supporting Successful Learning in Secondary School

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