Helping students understand themselves as learners

Learning Differences

1 March 2019

The Learning Differences Programme partnered with Teach For All to host the third annual Reaching All Learners fellowship, an innovative learning experience for educators.

The fellowship took place in Monterrey, Mexico in October and brought together more than 20 alumni and second-year teachers from Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Ghana, India, Lebanon, Malaysia and the United Kingdom. Five fellows from Oak’s partner organisations also joined the Friday Institute, Transcend, Compass Academy, YouthBuild International and the Relay Graduate School of Education.

Through virtual learning opportunities, an in-person convening and the development of action research projects, the fellows analysed the intersections between metacognition, identity and learner variability. Metacognition, or the understanding of how one learns, is a particularly critical skill for students who learn differently. Knowing one’s own strengths as a learner and which areas need support can be transformational for students, leading to narrowing achievement gaps and building self-understanding and agency.

The fellowship also developed educators’ understanding and skill teaching in ways that accept and affirm students’ cultural identities, while developing critical perspectives that challenge inequities in schools. This practice, often referred to as culturally sustaining pedagogy, coupled with a focus on knowing oneself as a learner, builds student self-awareness, engagement and sense of belonging in the classroom – necessary precursors to academic success.

Fellows looked at metacognition and reaching all learners through the lens of the local education context in Mexico. Facilitators led them through activities to reflect on and interrogate the similarities and differences of what they observed in Mexican schools, compared with schools in their own countries. Rich discussions deepened the learning and helped bring out what is common across borders and how students every-where can be supported to achieve their potential.

The fellows debated how metacognition and culturally sustaining pedagogy can support the development of agency and awareness among teachers and students in ways that increase the opportunity for all learners to reach their personal goals.

“This fellowship has been really thought-provoking for me. It has broadened my definition about what kinds of conditions need to be set for deeper learning to begin taking place. I also have a renewed energy for the way I approach how we raise this bar at my school.”

– One Oak Fellow at the Reaching All Learners Fellowship.

Through these projects and the unique ways fellows are sharing their learning with colleagues back home, the potential for impact extends far beyond 20 individual teachers. With this in mind, Teach For All is gearing up for the launch of the fourth Reaching All Learners cohort. The 2019 fellowship will continue to focus on metacognition, but this time will bring together teachers who provide professional development to other teachers to build their skills and competencies.

This grant falls under Oak Foundations’ Learning Differences Programme strategy. To learn more about our Learning Differences Programme, read pages 50-56 of Oak’s 2018 Annual Report.

Photo: © Kathrin Legorreta / Teach For All

Source: Oak Foundation Annual Report 2018

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