Often times understanding how people learn is like trying to master chess. It requires the ongoing commitment to gaining greater knowledge, skills and insights. Richard Elmore talks about this in the context of the instructional core; John Bransford et al. in developing a metacognitive culture within the learning space.
I’m often asked to reflect on how we improve the quality of learning and teaching; how every student becomes a winner in the learning journey through and beyond school. I have to admit it is often a struggle to condense it into something that is clear and simple. However, recently I’ve thought about the work of good teachers as being similar to racehorse trainers. This is not a post comparing students with thoroughbred horses. Rather, it has been interesting to listen to Winx’s trainer, Chris Waller talking about how they have worked with Winx and in doing so obliterate racing’s history book.
Under the supervision of Waller, there is a committed team that regularly observes and monitors Winx on and off the track. As Waller has said in past interviews, they are always guided by how happy and sound Winx is on any given day. It is this holistic understanding that applies to good teaching also. That deep affinity between teacher and student that develops from a place of mutual trust and respect. The ability of teachers to be attuned to a student’s individual needs at any given time and to adapt tasks and experiences accordingly.
In all endeavours, it takes a team to produce the best possible outcomes. Our goal is not to train thoroughbreds but to unleash the potential of every child. How far each student can go depends on our ability to nurture their abilities, harness opportunities and sometimes take our hands off the reins.