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Are You Really Concentrating?

This year all three of our academies are launching a new approach to assessment and reporting. One element of this change is in the language we will be using to describe the level of engagement a student demonstrates in their lessons.

Where we have previously relied on rather non-descriptive single words – ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’, we have moved towards a much richer description of the behaviours a student exhibits in a subject over time. A recent article published by Teach Like A Champion author Doug Lemov entitled ‘Replacing Learning Styles with Attention Types’ goes one step further to explore what it really means to be engaged or paying attention.

In the article, Lemov skilfully and simply explains some of the neuroscience and psychology sitting behind our ability to give our attention to something and, perhaps more importantly, switch our attention between different things. By highlighting the vast array of stimulus we are innately receptive to by virtue of being in any given environment, Lemov provides us with an understanding of just how much we need to filter, or make unconscious, just in order to select what it is we are going to give our attention to at any given moment. Why is this important for teachers? Well partly because as Lemov writes: “We receive the information that causes us to learn through our senses and everyone has a unique profile of how well they tend to process information presented through different sensory channels. The most important skill is the ability to coordinate and move fluidly among those channels.” So in order to support our students to learn, we need to be conscious of what, how much and in what form we are providing them with the very information we want them to be aware of and transfer into their long-term memory / learn.

So even though at first glance this article may be about different learning styles it actually leads us nicely to needing to understand more about cognitive load theory and dual coding, two elements of teaching advocated by the approaches being used in our academies.