This was the question I asked myself at the end of 2019. I had been teaching at Newington College for a year. The release of Guy Claxton and Becky Carlzon’s Powering Up Children signalled an expansion of Learning Power in the primary school. Included under LPA’s umbrella were now other research-based frameworks such as Ron Ritchhart’s Visible Thinking, Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset and Kath Murdoch’s Inquiry Learning.
As a life-long stickler for the rules, this wide scope and subjectivity is what I simultaneously find most fantastic but also most challenging about Learning Power.
With a broadened understanding of Learning Power in 2020, I set out to find the answer to the question: What does Learning Power look like? In one way the answer was complex. Learning Power looks different depending on context, teacher, student group and learning focus. But, in another way, it was very simple.
That is, a genuine handing over of the reins of teaching and learning. No matter what the particulars were, Learning Power looked like empowerment.
Students were empowered when they learned how to describe their learning from the first days of Kindergarten.
They were also empowered when they observed the learning process and documented their perseverance on James Nottingham’s Learning Pit.
They were empowered again when their ideas, feedback and reflection was genuinely taken into account when shaping learning experiences, assessments and school events.
Parents were empowered when they were invited to find out more about Learning Power and how they could support it at home. They were empowered again by using Learnish to participate in virtual learning showcases.
And teachers were empowered through opportunities to share their practice through staff meeting shout outs and open-ended workshops that explored the intersection of Learning Power and the school’s core values.
When empowerment was centre, a cultural shift occurred. Learning Power was no longer something to be ticked off on a list. It had become something people were excited to share over biscuits in the staffroom, a way of thinking that saw students making meaningful decisions in their day-to-day learning, and a language that permeated every corner of the school (even making an appearance in school leader graduation and prize giving addresses!). Now, everyone owns a little piece of Learning Power.
I found that it depends, and that might be its greatest strength.
Amy Kirk is a primary school classroom teacher and gifted education team leader at Newington College in Sydney, Australia. She is driven by the ‘how’ of learning and leads the building and refining of teaching and learning through the Learning Power Approach at Newington College. Since 2020, Amy has been an active member of Learning Pioneers, an innovative, passionate and international community of educators.