Teaching and Learning

Teaching and Learning at King Solomon

Pedagogy is both a science and a craft. As teachers we make decisions every lesson: decisions about how to engage students in their learning, how to structure the learning process, how to provide students with effective feedback etc. Sometimes it can feel that we are having to think of our own answers to all of these questions as we plan our individual lessons. We learn from collective wisdom and research about what works and what does not work. This is a summary of what research tells us about teaching and learning. It also provides a brief introduction to high performance learning, a pedagogical framework that is being adopted by King Solomon School.

Teaching here is evidence of 'informed' judgement. Learning best happens when students feel safe and therefore relationships are key. The social and emotional aspects of learning are the bedrock for deep learning.

A Summary of our Approach at King Solomon International Business School:

[A] Learning builds on prior knowledge, structures and sequences. Our well sequenced curriculum is important to ensure that students have the prior knowledge they need to master new ideas. New learning needs to be built on prior knowledge: ascertain this and teach accordingly because it takes much greater effort for a student to digest information they don't recognize than information they do recognize. Therefore, we:

(a) decide what prior knowledge our students need to follow a new lesson themselves

(b) assess the extent to which students have this prior knowledge

(c) adopt a teacher-based approach - e.g. direct instruction

[B] Teachers are translators of knowledge. As translator a teacher is the person who decodes and adapts content and objectives, before communicating them to the learners. To be able to do this successfully we have teachers with a sufficient degree of subject matter knowledge. As a translator the teacher needs the ability to process content and present it at the level of the student.

[C] Learning is about nurturing knowledge, skills and understanding in the long-term memory, not immediate performance. Therefore, we teach students how to remember and practice things so they can recall and use in the future. New learning needs to build on prior learning. We don’t just check that students have prior knowledge when we start a lesson, we give them an opportunity to practice retrieval of the prior learning before presenting new information.

[D] Learning does not just happen: it has to be practiced. To learn students must transfer information from working memory (where it is consciously processed) to long-term memory (where it can be stored and later retrieved). Memory is strengthened and developed by teaching students how to retrieve the knowledge, skills and understanding regularly through using scaffolds to learning (e.g. revision strategies developed over time, assessments that support the accumulation of knowledge over time, regular short quizzes etc.  

[E] Spaced repetition supports learning. Return at regular intervals to things that have been previously learnt (e.g. using flash card). We build moments of repetition into our lessons. In this way a student learns something once, then forgets it, returns to it and each time it builds into the long-term memory.

[F] Teaching is a two-way interaction.  Effective teachers are fully engaged with each student, continually checking for understanding and constantly using feedback in order to assess levels of understanding. We ensure that each student understands before moving on. Expert teachers have a forensic attitude to understanding where each individual child is at in their learning, investigating where there are gaps and problems in their learning and adopting a laser-like approach to tackling these learning gaps.

[G] Teachers aim to build confidence in each student because success comes from students feeling confident. Students are more motivated if they believe that intelligence and ability can be improved through hard work. We praise student effort and strategies rather than their ability. It is important that students know what correct answers look like, and therefore it is important to model what success looks like. It is therefore key that the learner has a clear mental picture of what he or she is working towards.  

[H] Text plus image is better than text alone. Research shows that students who receive an explanation in both words and images remember more than students who are taught the same content using either just words or just images. This is called dual coding.  The basic idea is that people have two channels in their head, one for words and the other for images. We will be using graphic organisers more extensively and our imageswill carry information to support our EAL students and SEND in particular.

[I] We evaluate and give feedback. Feedback can be one of the most powerful influences on learning, especially when it is frequent and when it is given as soon as possible as the learning performance. Feedback answers the following three questions:

a) Where am I heading (what are the objectives of the learning/what needs to be achieved?)

b) What have I done? ('feedback' - how has the learner performed against the objectives?)

c) What is the next step? ('feed forward' - how can the learner progress further?).

[J] We teach students how to learn and to think about their own thinking (i.e. metacognition). Metacognitive skills relate to three main activities: planning, monitoring and evaluating. Planning learning is about setting clear objectives, activating prior knowledge, selecting the correct learning strategy and choosing the best resources. Monitoring is about testing yourself as a learner, to see if you are actually learning. Evaluating is about looking at what you have learned and assessing whether it is enough. Metacognitive skills are best taught when they are interwoven into the subject matter being taught.