Learning outside of the classroom

Learning outside of the classroom

29 January 2021

Although not the learning environment we want for our children I am proud how well all our pupils and staff quickly adapted to remote learning. We learnt a lot from the first lockdown, developing and adapting along the way to make the current move to remote learning a seamless process.

Learning is for life and so the girls should really try to capitalise on this experience and continue to develop their independent learning skills. This will help them to become successful lifelong learners who will flourish at university and beyond.

To support the girls in maximising their academic potential, there are a number of things we can consider. For example, in 1692 William Penn stated, “Time is what we want most but what we use worst”. It seems that procrastination and disorganisation were issues for society a long time before the internet was invented. Although the potential distractions for students have never been greater, neither has our understanding of learning and how we can effectively use technology to support our academic endeavours. I want to take this opportunity to share some useful tips so that students are better able to reap the rewards that online learning offers.

Preparing to learn
Whilst learning in pyjamas sounds wonderful, students will find that they are far more productive if they wake up and go through a normal morning routine, this of course should include breakfast. A quiet, organised learning environment is essential so that everything is easily accessible and unwanted distractions are minimised, this includes all aspects of social media.

Online Lessons
Students should be encouraged to question fearlessly in lessons to ensure they fully comprehend the learning objectives. If they are not comfortable asking questions on zoom, or using the chat function, then they can seek individual guidance and support from their teachers, as they would at school. With their cameras on, the girls should listen carefully to any teacher exposition and reflect carefully on what they are learning and how they will know that they have been successful. We encourage the girls to think critically about any subject content and they are provided opportunities to consolidate this learning. They should reflect carefully on feedback from their teachers, as this will guide them on how to improve further.

Making it stick
I would encourage all the girls to reflect personally on their learning and how they are able to learn particular concepts more effectively than others. This process of metacognition will develop the girl’s understanding of their own learning and make them more effective at learning in the future.

Many students form online peer study groups, these are an excellent motivator for students and also provide an opportunity for them to develop their thoughts. When we converse with others about our learning, it reinforces our understanding and identifies and addresses any misconceptions. Learning from our peers is proven to be highly impactful, in these groups, those with a higher level of knowledge in a particular field also clarify their understanding, as teaching a concept forces students to reflect in a more logical and considered manner.

Students should reflect on their learning some time afterwards and repeat this process throughout the duration of the course. This is due to the ‘forgetting curve’ which hypothesizes that strength of memory diminishes with time. Reinforcing the key points of the lesson using flash cards or other forms of retrieval practice after several days, weeks and months will help to maintain understanding.

Lastly, I would strongly recommend that the girls take breaks and move around as much as possible between learning episodes. Learning in a static environment has the potential to negatively impact motivation and so I would encourage the girls to move around, discuss their learning with others at home and have complete breaks from thinking. Working smarter in this way will positively impact on attainment and, more importantly, it is a far healthier way to learn.

I look forward to welcoming all the girls back into the school building as soon as possible but in the meantime encourage them to continue to get the most of their remote learning experience.

Dr Sheldrake
Head of Teaching and Learning

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