What is COEL?
One of the ways we promote the challenge of lifelong learning on a daily basis across the curriculum is through embedding children’s understanding of the skills and attributes they need to develop as learners.
We call these skills and attributes ‘characteristics of effective learning’.
Our approach is based on the work of Guy Claxton work (‘Building Learning Power’). His theory states that we are all capable of becoming better learners because the skills and attributes needed to become an effective learner can be developed through recognising and ‘exercising’ them in the same way that we exercise muscles in our bodies.
Guy Claxton identifies four key dispositions which represent a group of learning values.
Resilience - not giving up
Resourcefulness - being able to use a range of learning strategies and knowing what to do when you get stuck
Reflectiveness - being able to think about yourself as a learner and how you might be able to do this better
Reciprocity (co-operation) - being able to learn with and from others, as well as on your own.
These dispositions are then split into seventeen learning ‘muscles’ that the children are encouraged to ‘stretch’ within their everyday lessons and activities and apply to different aspects of their learning.
What does COEL look like at Wyton on the Hill?
We have chosen six of Guy Claxton’s seventeen ‘learning muscles’ to focus on, based on observation and discussion with children about what they think will help them to learn:
Each class has taken responsibility for thinking about one of the six characteristics of effective learning so that they could ‘teach’ the rest of the school through a series of class-led whole school assemblies.
In lessons and around school, teachers regularly encourage pupils to practice perseverance, managing distractions, listening, reasoning, collaboration and planning by acknowledging and celebrating examples in learners’ work and by asking learners which of these characteristics will be particularly useful in specific subjects and tasks.
This approach has allowed us to develop a common language for ‘effortful’ learning across the school.
The language is used in all classrooms, with all children. This helps everyone talk about and understand the importance of ‘learning to learn’ and ‘effortful’ learning.
We hope that this understanding will begin to spill over into life outside school, where parents will be able to reinforce the ideas by encouraging children to use their learning language and stretch their ‘learning muscles’ in their everyday lives.