I am excited to begin a new personal project to deepen my own knowledge base of how our instruction can effectively integrate strategies that help students and staff grow their “understanding” – using the word as it applies to holistic learning -strategically involving student hearts, heads and hands in their learning experiences. We use the noun “understanding” as a synonym for comprehension much of the time. Developing content understanding is very valuable part of success in school and in the workplace. As well, the adjective “understanding” has such importance for us as we work to graduate students who will benefit from have strong character and becoming responsible citizen. Developing empathetic understanding for others is the basis of a strong learning culture and healthy communities. The “hands- on” aspect of learning refers to active, collaborative, learner-centered experiences which offer opportunities to spark and further emotional, social and academic learning.
We know that SEAL – Social, Emotional and Academic Learning recognizes the importance of emotion, cognition and rigorous learning. My starting point will be seeking school programs where SEAL – is gaining ground or well embedded and talking to leaders who are intentional in integrating a heads, heart and hands approach. There is much literature to review to gain a broader view of this approach. Working in schools as a coach and consultant, I look forward to getting the insights from those working directly with students as to what a balanced head, hearts and hands-on approach looks like, feels like and sounds like in their setting. What does professional learning that integrates “heart, head and hands” on look like, feel like and sound like and is this more impactful for the participants?
Finally, I know the greatest insights will come from students, teachers and leaders reflecting on the daily work of schools.
January, 2017 – I am excited about the New Year and continuing to grow my personal area of study. Empathetic understanding is crucial to the development of trust, safety and strong relationships (Sharratt & Planche, 2016). This area links very authentically for me to my continued interest and study of the complexities of collaboration in staff as well as student learning.
Have a happy new learning year!