Lytton Street School embraces Walker Learning. Walker Learning (WL) is an Australian designed teaching and learning approach that aims to engage children from early childhood right through to their early teenage years using a range of strategies for authentically personalised learning.
We use the Walker Learning Philosophy Statement to guide our school wide practice and decisions. Walker Learning’s educational philosophy is based on the sciences of developmental psychology and neuroscience and the impact of social and cultural influences on children.
Theories of play and project based learning are used and draw upon Vygotskian and constructivist principles that are used in practice. The pedagogy draws heavily on elements of recent neuroscience research that highlights that the child's brain is programmed for relationships, attachments and concrete hands on open-ended experiences.
Walker Learning uses the Emotional Intelligence Model (Daniel Goleman, Antonakis, J., & Dietz, J. (2010) as the platform to deepen our own self- awareness as educators in order to deepen our relationships with children and grow in awareness of the needs of the children we teach. We model and scaffold intrinsic motivation using Rudolf Dreikurs theory of intrinsic motivation and logical consequences.
Walker Learning supports the development of a child's concept of self by drawing on the work of (Robert Leonetti, Leary M & Tangney, JP) and through the use of reflective listening, encouragement and separating a child's intellectual achievement from the value they are as a person.
Walker Learning embraces the importance of contextual learning – real, relevant and meaningful – to embed and strengthen recall of learning. The pedagogy is holistic and acknowledges that education is the development of skills for life alongside literacy and numeracy.
We believe that successful education includes two major foci: skills in curriculum and skills for life. These have become our overarching outcomes for our students. These include...
Skills for Life: Developing children who
- can think for themselves and others,
- can create and imagine
- are strong in their literacy and numeracy
- can navigate the challenges of the world with intrinsic motivation and a strength of character derived from a strong sense of self and resilience
- are emotionally intelligent, self- initiators, reflective of themselves and others
- are strong and articulate communicators with a realistic sense of themselves and others
Skills for Curriculum: skills for life work alongside skills of literacy, numeracy, the arts, science and other curriculum areas and are placed within the individual interests, collective culture and communities of the children and their families. Walker Learning uses evidence from how children develop neurologically, developmentally and through the influences of culture and family, to set up the learning environment to reflect indoor and outdoor learning and places and spaces that reflect calm but stimulating range of investigations and places to explore, experiment and learn.
Our Literacy and Mathematics Curriculums reflect the following Walker Learning philosophies
Contextual learning and peer as the model. Embracing the child, their interest, family and culture.
Creating context (real, relevant and meaningful) enhances learning of new skills, understandings and processes. Recreating that context enhances recovery of what has been learning. In addition when a peer introduces the learning as the model (peer as the 2nd teacher) engagement is enhanced significantly and is sustained more powerfully.
Associated practices (children’s interests & peer as the model):
- Educators scaffold and explicitly model or instruct while using children’s interests and contexts for the majority of time to engage and motivate.
- Children’s cultures, cultures, experiences, and interests are used to engage children during investigations
- Children’s cultures, experiences, and interests are used to link to learning intentions in STEAM
- Tuning in and reflection, investigations, STEAM and introduction to formal teaching uses a contextual learning platform
Personalising learning in Walker Learning encourages educators to provide learning experiences for each individual as well as providing unique strategies to reflect the different ways in which individuals learn (eg the “how”). The educator intentionally aims to teach at each child’s ‘cusp of learning’ (Vygotsky's zone of proximal development) – where they know some, but not all, where the child is challenged and extended while experiencing some form of success.
Associated practices (personalising learning):
- Whole group instruction is short and infrequent,
- There is an emphasis on small group clinics and individual teaching
- Scaffolding and modelling are the key teaching strategies (in preference to direct instruction)
- Investigations and Education Research Projects
- Open ended experiences during investigations
- Personalised Education Research Projects proposals and goals
- Individual observation planning records are used by all educators across the school/centre.
Working independently, together and in parallel
Walker Learning recognises child development research that highlights that children require time to work and play alongside each other as well as times to work independently. Routines, predictably and times to work and share together as well as times to make independent choices are provided for the children under the direction of the educators. Educators scaffold and support children in all areas of learning and encourage their independence through routines and allowing choice.
John Hattie’s research and publications around Visible Learning support our beliefs and practices. He states that it is critical that teachers see themselves as evaluators of their effects on students and develop a mind frame in which they see it as their primary role to evaluate their effect on learning. Hattie argues that teacher’s beliefs and commitments are the greatest influence on student achievement.
NINE MINDFRAMES OF EFFECTIVE TEACHERS
- Evaluators of the effect of their teaching on pupil’s learning.
- ‘Change Agents’ who take responsibility for enhancing all pupils learning.
- Talk about how pupils learn and not about how teachers teach.
- See assessment as feedback about their impact.
- Engage in dialogue not monologue with pupils.
- Enjoy the challenge and engage pupils in the challenge.
- Develop positive relationships with pupils that foster effective learning.
- Have a common and shared language of learning which is understood by all.
- Teach students the value of: Concentration, perseverance and deliberate practice.
WHAT EXPERT TEACHERS DO
- Set clear learning intentions so students understand them
- Set challenging success criteria so students are challenged
- Utilise a range of learning strategies
- Know when students are not progressing
- Provide feedback so students learn to seek it
- Visibly learn themselves
PIAGET AND STAGES OF COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
The overarching idea put forward by Hattie is that the teacher needs to understand where a pupil is in their level of thinking and then challenge them to go beyond that level through a process described as ‘cognitive acceleration’. They need to provide instruction at the right level and in the right way given how a pupil processes information. This entails using teaching approaches which makes learners think about learning more explicitly and where they make their thinking explicit.
Hattie demonstrates in his research that one of the most powerful single influences enhancing achievement is feedback. For feedback to be effective Hattie argues that it needs to be:
- Clear, purposeful, meaningful and compatible with pupils’ prior knowledge, and to provide logical connections
- Directed at the right level, so it can assist students to comprehend, engage, or develop effective strategies to process the information intended to be learnt
- Combined with effective instruction in classrooms, and focus on what is being learnt (learning intention) and how students should go about it (success criteria)
- Occurring as the students are doing the learning
- Provided with information on how and why the student has or has not met the criteria
- Provided with strategies to help the student to improve In his book Hattie argues that oral feedback is much more effective than written and that the most powerful feedback is provided from the student to the teacher