Heathfield International School – Vientiane
Teaching & Learning Policy
The main focus or dynamic in a school is the process of teaching and learning.
It is therefore imperative that we define how this process will occur in our school.
What we believe
Teaching and learning are intricately linked but learning does not necessarily happen as a result of teaching.
Education is changing. We need to equip students with life-skills: emotional intelligence, a mutually beneficial connection with the environment, and the ability to think critically and creatively and collaborate within a team.
Students will need to increasingly take control over their learning: setting goals and reflecting on progress. They should be provided with a platform and approach that nurtures and inspires success.
Children’s learning should be characterized by
- a clear understanding of learning experiences, which necessitates students knowing the answers to the following questions:
- What am I learning?
- Why am I learning it?
- How do I know that I have learnt it?
- Why am I learning it?
- What am I learning?
- active involvement;
- speaking, listening and discussion; (They will need to be taught these skills.)
- the freedom to express themselves politely,
- taking risks,
- not being afraid of failure and an awareness of how one can learn from mistakes,
- thoughtful and well considered responses,
- the increasing use of subject-based vocabulary with which to communicate,
- increasing engagement in the teaching-learning process,
- the sharing and celebrating of their achievements, and
- the pursuit of agreed personal goals / learning targets for improvement and higher achievement.
Therefore, children need
- to feel valued and secure in a calm and harmonious environment;
- the awareness that attitude is as important as present, perceived abilities;
- a clear understanding of the lesson’s objectives, why they are being taught them and how they know when they are successful,
- guidance on how to develop metacognitive skills and self-regulate behaviour in the face of learning challenges,
- challenging but achievable tasks: ZPD and scaffolding,
- to know they have a voice;
- rich, nuanced and elaborated language models suitable for entry into university or a place of employment that demands high-level English,
- devolved rights commensurate with levels of responsibility,
- opportunities for choosing aspects of learning,
- to be an active part of the process through formative assessment and regular feedback;
- access to appropriate resources: concrete, hands-on materials and representations, and
- equal opportunities.
Therefore, teachers need to be
- engagers of curiosity,
- curators of children’s ideas,
- facilitators of learning,
- research assistants,
- learners: to be committed to their vocation and continual professional development, whether school-directed or through personal research and reflection,
- thoughtful planners;
- assessors, looking for clues to remediate and/or advance learning, and
- sharers of ideas and new initiatives in education.
Teachers will need to
- increasingly ‘know’ their students via careful observation and reflection,
- have sound knowledge of the curriculum and stages of child development,
- understand that children develop at different rates,
- understand and use the learning theories associated with the zone of proximal development/scaffolding and the Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract sequence,
- be well organised and consistent;
- plan carefully, employing appropriate strategies with clear objectives, rationale and success criteria,
- be willing to capitalise upon unforeseen events and interests of the children,
- understand how thought-provoking questioning contributes to learning,
- teach and facilitate the collaborative approach including exploratory and cumulative talk,
- be willing to reflect on their lessons and extend or improve upon their performance, and
- use agreed upon positive behavior management strategies.
This translates into the following when conducting lessons so that teachers
- show a good understanding of subject matter,
- demonstrate an awareness of different ways children can learn, and
- in general, conduct lessons at a fairly brisk & lively pace.
- consider carefully the language they use, employing subject-based vocabulary,
- speak in a way that is well projected and clear,
- provide clear instructions,
- expect children to follow the rules of discussion,
- see that children are actively engaged,
- value serious contributions,
- invite and respond willingly to enquiry,
- use open-ended questions to stimulate thinking;
- use assessment guidelines and techniques that facilitate an understanding of present abilities, next steps and remediation needs,
- differentiate using task and outcome strategies; and
- ensure intervention, consolidation, enrichment and extension where appropriate.
Lessons should suit different learning objectives and provide variety.
They can be: practical, theoretical, visual, auditory, dramatic, collaborative & project-based, investigative, exploratory & hands-on, IT based, delivered inside and outside the classroom and community-based. Enquiry is invited and welcomed.
- Should be carefully timetabled to ensure comprehensive coverage whether cross- curricular, theme-based or single subject
This will vary according to the age and needs of the cohort in general.
- Within subjects, weight may be given to certain aims and objectives e.g. the skills of enquiry within Science, problem-solving in mathematics & reading comprehension in English.
- Should be accessible through differentiation and the provision of necessary resources and teaching assistants – school-based or personal – to assist individuals or focus groups.
- The Oxford International Curriculum is the cornerstone of our school curriculum.
Specific initiatives for 2022-23
- Raising English standards through careful assessment with reference to the CEFR, teachers being thoughtful about the language they use and repeat, as well as using subject-related vocabulary frequently and purposefully so students assimilate terms.
- Developing a growth mindset.
Specific initiatives for 2023-24
There is a close link between these two initiates.
- Fostering an increasing ability to self-regulate i.e. manage their own motivation towards learning and the development of dispositions such as resilience and perseverance as well as knowing when it’s practical and beneficial to reset goals.
(The Wellbeing strand and the OIC’s whole-school approach to wellbeing support this.)
- The further development of metacognitive skills to increase levels of critical thinking, self-directed learning and self-reflection.
Establishing specific strategies to set goals, and monitor and evaluate their own academic development in relation to particular learning tasks and activities: covering all aspects of thinking including knowledge recall and more complex thinking such as objective analysis, evaluation and synthesis.
(Global skills provide a specific platform for introducing & learning these metacognitive skills; however, they can be explored & emphasized in any learning context)