Classroom Cohesion

An article on how to better utilise classroom learning, by the Director of Teacher Development and Effectiveness, Sue Walduck

Professional reading over the holidays can have a huge impact on many small actions made by teachers in their start-of-year routine. Most of these would not be noticed by students. 

One popular book, Classroom Vibe, has been checked out of the College library a few times. In this book, the author of Classroom Vibe, Timothy O’Leary discusses how classroom cohesion has a positive impact on student learning. He implores teachers to ensure students have the opportunity to build relationships among themselves. This has been put into action at the College in formal programs including the Year 8 trip to Canberra, the Year 12 Leadership camp, APS training sessions, and through homeroom activities. 

O’Leary also encourages educators to have students share the cognitive load in class and for teachers to move instruction from the “I do” to the “We do” and then the “You do” phase. By ensuring the students are working together, they are sharing space, time and memories which will ultimately build relationships. The goal is to have students moving toward feel safe in the classroom with their new peers but also with the changes in topics, classroom resources and new teachers. Classroom Vibe research suggests that when students’ individual psychological needs are met, there is increased motivation, engagement, well-being and performance. Lyn Sharrat, in her book Clarity, says teachers can boost students’ achievement by ensuring they have a voice. She writes that students who are co-collaborators in learning have important things to say and inform practices in the classroom.

In terms of academics, O’Leary states that students are more likely to recall a teacher’s message if they spend 15 minutes of their lesson connecting their learning to other subject areas.He also states, including mistakes for students to identify and ensuring a review of the key points in the lesson will assist in moving knowledge from the short-term to the long-term memory. He also suggests that teachers must spend time each lesson exploring the key vocabulary used in the

subject area and check for students’ understanding of this. 

Finally, Classroom Vibe attests that student surveys are a reliable method for guiding teacher impact upon learning. In this day and age, where everyone can rate the service at their local Boost Juice at the checkout or on-line through TripAdvisor or Google Reviews, the skills required to give meaningful feedback no longer need to be taught during a lesson. The comments provided can assist in product delivery almost instantaneously. So, I wonder if your children are contributing to their classes. Do they have an impact on their lessons and share their voice?

Sue Walduck