December BLP Focus: Resilience

Each month we will be looking at a separate aspect of ‘Building Learning Power’ (BLP), which is used by teachers at Goffs School to facilitate better learning amongst our students. It may be worth familiarising yourself with BLP in order to better understand how your child is encouraged to learn in lessons. For a general overview please click here.

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BLP identifies four key dispositions (inherent qualities of mind and character) that every student needs to be an effective learner; these are called the ‘4 Rs’ and include resilience, resourcefulness, reflectiveness  and reciprocity. At Goffs we think of these dispositions as groups of “learning skills”, which can be built up and improved through practice in a similar way that muscles can be built up and improved through exercise. Therefore, just as we can build and exercise our physical muscles, at Goffs we teach students that they can exercise their learning skills to develop their academic strength and stamina (or, rather, their knowledge, concentration and perseverance). Although all our students have different abilities, needs and interests, we believe they can all be individually trained, nurtured and exercised through BLP.

What is resilience?

A simple definition of “resilience” in the context of learning is a student’s ability to succeed and prosper even after facing setbacks and hardships. Resilience is especially important when children face new academic challenges at school. These challenges often result in added pressure, stress and an increasing awareness of their own abilities or limitations.Therefore, BLP encourages students to build up their resilience by exercising certain skills or ‘learning muscles’.

If resilience were a muscle, it could be seen as the ‘Absorption Learning Muscle’ as you become engrossed in what you are doing and are fully engaged. Moreover, a resilient student will be unaware of time passing as they are focused on their learning and have a thirst to learn more. In others words, they will be resilient to irrelevant thoughts, concerns and general distractions as they learn in lessons.


How is this achieved?

Students will be taught to manage distractions in order to be more resilient. They will know what distracts them and try to minimise these distractions. Some of this is facilitated by teachers by straight forward behaviour management and classroom routines. For example, they will be encouraged to settle back to learning quickly after an interruption. However, students are also encouraged to be self-reflective in lessons and when learning independently. Part of this will get them to consider what distracts them and to weigh up the pros and cons to reacting to these distractions. This will allow them to remain ‘absorbed’ in their learning and resilient to self doubts and initial setbacks as well as the temptation to switch off or muck about.

Another aspect of resilience is building students’ ‘Noticing Skills’ (sometimes referred to as the ‘Noticing Skills Muscle’). Our students are taught to notice how things look, what they are made of, or how they, their peers and/or teachers behave and do things. This builds resilience as students become more skilled at identifying and paying attention to significant detail. This will depend heavily on their ability to manage distractions (as discussed above).

Another skill or ‘muscle’ associated with resilience is perseverance. Essentially, students are taught not to be put off by being stuck or making mistakes. In turn, they will keep on going despite difficulties and find ways to overcome them. This is a practical skill that allows students to recognise that learning can be a struggle and, thus, make them more resilient.

At Goffs we tend to use the word ‘skills’ over ‘muscles’ and only ‘noticing skills’ are taught as a specific exercise; absorption, managing distractions and perseverance are implicit in almost everything we teach and do and, therefore, are embedded in the ethos of every classroom.

Next month we will be looking at ‘resourcefulness’, so please check the site in mid January.

(Photo credit: Women’s and Children’s Health Network of South Australia)

My favorite lesson: rapping with Edwin Chadwick by Lucy McCann

Edwin Chadwick: social reformer

Lucy McCann discusses how turning historical figures into rappers really engages her in History. A good example of ‘imagination’ and, therefore, BLP.
“Before I start, I would just like to say I have always loved history. So it will come as no surprise when I say my favourite lesson at Goffs, is history. I love learning about the past, and learning from mistakes.

The lessons vary, from fun group work to the slightly more serious answering of exam questions, which keeps the students interested for the next lesson. They are really up-to-date, for example, we had a lesson where we had to turn a famous historical figure into a rapper and write a Number 1 hit rap about their lives. It’s things like that that stay with a pupil and it was really good fun. As well as the normal lessons, we have revision lessons, to help us remember certain facts that would probably appear in the exam. They’re not heavy lessons, but in my opinion, light and often revision sessions work the best.

File:Busta rhymes-06-mika.jpg

Busta Rhymes: rapper

Our teacher is great too. I think a good aspect is that she doesn’t take anything we say (outside of answering questions) too seriously and she is able to have a laugh with us. Of course, our teacher can be serious too, but not unnecessarily. I think that’s quite important, because in my opinion, students need a teacher that they can be honest with, and can tell if they’re having problems in class, without being babied. But that’s just my opinion. All of the class are really well behaved in her lessons and get really high grades (from those I spoke too).

So that’s why history is my favourite class. Thanks for reading.”

Pop culture can be a great way to engage students. For example, read this other Learning Matters blog: http://goffsteach.com/2014/11/07/high-culture-versus-pop-culture-which-is-best-for-engaging-students/

Busta Rhymes photo credit: Mikamote (Wikicommons)

December Brainteaser!

What am I?

I am a 6 letter word.
Letters 6-5-2 spell out a drink.
Letters 4-5-2-3 spell out a fruit.
Letters 1-2-6 spell out a pet.
Letters 3-2-6 spell out a pest, which often gets eaten by 1-2-6.
What am I?

November’s answers:

1. dependant
2. anthem
3. adamant
4. antacid
5. antelope
6. rampant