We, like many of our colleagues, are in the midst of number crunching, analysing, crystal ball gazing and looking for those 'marginal gains' that will ensure that we our Year 11 students get the grades that they are not only capable of, but deserve.
We have divided the Year 11 into groups that meet regularly with members of the Senior Leadership Team; reflected on who would work best with each person, to try and ensure the best match and leverage to entice and elicit more from individual students. Google Classroom has been employed to create learning groups, Weebly has been used in the development of a one-stop-school specific revision hub where there are materials and resources in abundance.
However, what value does this extra-ordinary effort from us have if we cannot unpick the 'why' and get students to really 'TH!NK' about what they are doing? In a Leadership training session last year, we were fortunate enough to go through a coaching session with the sports performance coach Keith Antoine (@coackKBA). Keith introduced us to what he called the 'Think Model' and I have reflected on this and will endeavour to explain its value in the context of Year 11.
The model begins with the tenet that 'people always do the right thing......as they see it at that point in time for them'. It is worth exploring this a little; people always do the right thing in their mind, Year 11 students are no different. They do not actively set out to under achieve, leave work to the last minute, but they invariably do. They often lack the capacity to perceive forwards and think about seeing it at a 'future point of time'.
At this point, well intended ‘coaches’ rain forth great wisdom about what they did, what students should do and wonder why it has little or no effect. They stumble into the ‘advisory or telling’ mode.
The problem here is that very little actually changes in their learning behaviour. Students are not required to 'think' deeply enough and with guided and skilful questioning make the connections. More often than not, motivation plummets and resentment and disaffection grow. After all, ‘if I don’t try, I know I didn’t achieve because I put no effort in, not because I couldn’t do it’!
Our challenge is to enable students to 'TH!NK' deeply.
We must ask questions that enable our students to 'think' about the changes and narrow the gap between us 'telling' and them 'thinking', otherwise, learning behaviours won’t change.
I have attempted to capture this visually below.
We must ask the right questions to enable students to ‘TH!NK’ above the line and make positive connections about the choices they are going to make.
They have to connect cognitively to the tasks in hand if they are to make positive behavioural change. They lack the depth of experience to reference these points in the future so we have to elicit skilful responses by asking the ‘right questions’ and avoid ‘telling’ at all costs!
If we can get this right, then students self-confidence will grow and they will see and make the positive changes that are needed to be successful.
The challenge for us as educators is to move out of the ‘telling phase’ and invest enough time and thought to ask the right questions to enable them to ‘THINK’ with clarity and purpose so that they can sense and feel the end goal!