Virtuous Practice

There are only two types of learning: More or Better

In my mind, there are only two types of learning: learning to do more or learning to do better. As educators, it is critical we recognise these two very different types of learning. Moreover, we must ensure our students understand the difference between the two and that we nurture their relationship with learning to do […]

The Five Elements of Effort

Have you noticed a difference between how we assess student performance and how we assess student effort? We tend to use more formative assessment methods for performance and more summative assessment methods for effort. Let me explain. In my experience, most schools evaluate student effort using a linear scale from low to high or unsatisfactory […]

Learning From Mistakes is Over Rated

There’s a lot of talk these days about mistakes. So much talk, in fact, we could be forgiven for thinking that learning is all about making mistakes. But to think this way would be a mistake! With all the hype surrounding mistakes, we lose sight of the fact that mistakes – although a natural and […]

The three ideas every educator needs to understand. (And the one book that brings them all together!)

I believe there are three key ideas every educator needs to understand if they are going to help students thrive in the 21st century. Not that all of teaching and learning can be distilled into three ideas; there’s much more. But without these three ideas, I believe your teaching practice – and, therefore, your students’ […]

How good is your hindsight?

It’s easy to feel knowledgeable about an event after it has happened. “Monday’s expert” will tell you all about how the weekend’s game was lost and how it should have been won. The best decisions or the real reasons seem obvious in retrospect. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. But what if it wasn’t? What […]

What’s the value of a mistake?

On its own, a mistake has no value. The value and learning potential come not from the mistake itself, but from the way we act on it. To achieve learning and extract value from a mistake, we must follow psychologist Anders Ericsson’s 3 Fs: • Focus: To recognise a learning opportunity. • Feedback: To understand […]

Mistakes and other Signposts for Learning

There’s a lot of talk these days about mistakes. We now know the important role mistakes have in learning. Rather than seeing mistakes as markers of limitations or inabilities, we see them as signposts for future learning. But with so much focus on mistakes, have we lost sight of other signposts? Mistakes are often easy […]

Experience vs Expertise

Should the people who’ve been in the job the longest be paid the most money? This is the way many businesses work. Employers pay their staff an annual increment based on their years of employment, even if the role hasn’t changed. Experience, so the saying goes, counts. So, the longer you do the job, the […]

Not all Effort is Created Equal

I am increasingly of the belief that we should ban the word “effort” from the classroom. Praising effort has become all the rage in education—all in the name of Growth Mindsets. The argument goes something like this: If we praise students for their ability or achievements we detract from the importance of their efforts. So […]

Mistakes about Mistakes

There’s a lot of talk these days about mistakes. Should teachers be encouraging students to make mistakes? Should we celebrate mistakes? Are mistakes good or bad? I want to try and put the record straight about mistakes and clear up some of the mistakes I’ve noticed about mistakes. In his blog “Not all Mistakes are […]