Happy New Year everyone! The Fieldwork Education offices have been full of conversation about New Year’s resolutions, with everyone sharing what their goals for the year ahead are. Luke Sawyer, our new Curriculum Coordinator explained that he was aiming to be positive in his goals and adding positive things rather than giving up negative ones. For years I have tried (unsuccessfully) to give up chocolate entirely, but realized that perhaps I should have instead focused on having a healthier diet. Maybe this would have enabled me to eat the occasional bar of chocolate and helped me to develop a longer term healthier mindset.
This more positivist approach struck me as a particularly astute way in which to make resolutions and caused me to reflect on the ways in which teaching and learning could be improved through use of the same idea. Use of Dweck’s growth mindset theory and focusing on praising the hard work of students (rather than intelligence and ability) could be one way. Guy Claxton’s deep rivers of learning theory could be another, where instruction is designed to promote a positive disposition towards learning. Howard Gardner’s more recent work through The Good Project is also something to consider, promoting excellence, engagement and ethics in education, preparing students to become good workers and good citizens.
The list could go on, since there are many theories and pieces of research that can inform our practice in the classroom. However, in striving to have a positive impact on learning, we need to ensure that our practices are adding something constructive to our classrooms and helping us to develop longer term sustainable practices that improve learning.
Good luck with your New Year’s resolutions, whether they are related to teaching and learning or not. I have decided that one of mine will be to ‘be healthier’ and as part of a balanced diet, I might allow myself the occasional bar of chocolate!