Dean of Learning

Dean of Learning

Adaptive Learners need a Strategy

We have been helping Year 10 transition in their thinking to being Stage 6 students who will be completing their HSC in 2018.  Many of the ideas and practices we have been sharing are applicable to all students.

Part of the focus has been to encourage the girls to think about individual and collective responsibility about meeting deadlines, following procedures and being organised. This involves the girls consciously thinking about their learning – what they learn, the environment in which they learn best and how they learn.

To borrow an illuminating idea from George Siemens

“What we need to do today is create adaptive learners rather than adaptive learning”. 

George Siemens suggests the focus should move from the acquisition of knowledge to looking at the whole learner including their emotional intelligence, self-regulation, goal setting, creativity, innovation, integrated thinking and the ability  to function in continual state of flux. It is suggested that there should be less focus on the adaptive learning strategies, dominated with a content focus, and more on the learner.

This is important because this is consistent with the 2016-2020 Strategic Plan and the pathway focussing on ‘A Person Centred School’.

This notion of adaptive learners also fits in well with the recent BOSTES release of new HSC syllabuses where the President, Mr Alegounarias, said “deeper learning and a love of learning go hand in hand.”

We support our adaptive learners with a strategy to help their learning.  To this end we have been suggesting the following strategies for the students to build and entrench in their learning habits.

In the coming weeks we will share a six step approach with Year 10 to challenge their thinking, practices, organisation and productivity. These steps include firstly developing a vision of where they want to be as a learner by October 2018. We have started this through the subject selection process.

Secondly, the vision needs a plan which has short term (get to the end of the year), medium term (trial and error learning in Year 11) and long term (sustaining the Year 12 phase) goals.

Thirdly, the girls need to be able to relax, though not all the time.  The bar needs to be high enough that they are challenged and can improve but not so high that they are stressed and get sick. 

Fourthly, all students need to learn how to concentrate.  Not just in the class for a short period of time but also for a sustained period such as a long night at the desk working.  This does not happen overnight and it needs to be practiced. 

Fifthly, students need to be more mindful of how they are feeling and know the signs that they are pushing too much or not enough, monitoring the signs of illness and resting appropriately.

Finally, it is important to reflect and evaluate what is happening in their learning.  This reflection needs to be honest (Am I trying to do too much?) practical (Where do I draw and line in the sand move on to the next activity?) and ongoing with the end picture in mind.

Above all, Loreto students and your daughters are unique individuals and adaptive learners at different stages of intellectual maturity, they lead busy lives and are gifted with varied skills in goal setting, organisation and self-awareness. We are all on the same journey and yet they have to do the work. So our contribution is to provide them with the strategy and to support them along the way.

By way of conclusion, recently some staff had the opportunity to listen to a presentation by Mark Dobson who works in the background supporting a range of people including Olympic athletes.  The following quote has been in the back of my mind for a couple of days. The quote is challenging my thinking on balance and moderation and may be of interest for your reflection on one aspect of how we can support the learning of your daughter(s).

“Nothing great is achieved with balance, something has to go.”


Mr Martin Pluss

Dean of Learning