Maximising Learning

posted in: Teaching Strategies | 0

It is not sufficient just to present information to students, they need to actually learn the concepts which means that first the information needs to be stored in long term memory so that it can be quickly and accurately retrieved on demand.

Sherrington (2022) identifies 9 key ideas for maximising learning:

  1. Have high expectations – believe in your students, create a sense of purpose and insist on a high level of accuracy and effort.
  2. Focus on the core components you want students to master – if you teach well in the first place you will reduce the need for additional lessons or interventions.
  3. Build self-esteem: Success breeds success. Show students where they started and compare to where they are now. Structure lessons so students can and will succeed and then explicitly acknowledge that success and the difficulties that have been overcome to succeed. Success is not a result of good luck.
  4. Aim high, but break this into achievable smaller steps: Contrary to Sherrington, I’m not a big believer in goal setting. It’s not about achieving a goal per se, but rather moving forward, one step at a time and then looking backwards to celebrate our forward momentum.
  5. Weaving together knowledge and outcomes. This involves building on previous knowledge and experiences, explicitly showing students how the material being taught interlinks, providing the experiences that will ensure students make sense of the material, providing time and opportunities for students to explore their own understanding, rehearse and self-check. Keep in mind that students often need to be explicitly taught these skills.
  6. Engage everyone: Just because a student is physically present doesn’t mean that they are learning. Explicitly build in the need to ‘mentally’ attend. Create opportunities for everyone to participate. Check for understanding from around the room. Get everyone talking and involved via pair-sharing.
  7. Be responsive: This involves continually monitoring and being prepared to revisit material and concepts that haven’t been understood and to move forward as soon as students are ready.
  8. Repetition and consolidation: Repetition and engagement in a similar problem or application of a concept builds fluency and competency. Knowledge is power and mastery is more likely when building on solid foundations.
  9. Scaffold high and bring it down intentionally and gradually: Start with the expected outcome, an example of excellence. Then, design and provide the necessary support and guidance that will enable students to achieve this outcome.

Checkout these books by Tom Sherrington:

Rosenshine’s Principles in Action

Teaching Walkthrus: Five Steps to Instructional Coaching


Sherrington, T. ((2022). Weaving it all together: 9 key threads for maximising learning. The Bulletin, 58, 15-17