Curriculum for Excellence has four capacities to create; successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. In order to achieve these capacities, as practitioners, we must consider carefully how we present ourselves as role models working to the high standards set by the General Teaching Council for Scotland, and to emphasise the importance of social learning within the classroom. With constant pressure on young people to achieve academically, as a group we decided that we should take time to emphasise the importance of specific social attributes that we wish to see in our young people. In our classrooms we set out to teach social skills as well as our curricular areas, in line with health and wellbeing experiences and outcomes to enhance young people’s skills and enjoyment at school.
As a group we decided to investigate what would happen if we were to explicitly introduce a social learning intention alongside our academic learning intention at the beginning of the lesson. In our group we decided on three main foci; listening, contributing to the lesson and kindness. This enquiry was carried out in a range of Primary and Secondary classrooms. Each teacher customised the social learning intentions to make them age and stage appropriate for their young people. At the end of the lesson the young people were asked to assess how well they felt they had achieved the social learning intention in their own social learning log. Throughout the four-week enquiry we also asked the young people to offer opinions on how they felt about social learning intentions and filling out the social learning logs.
The results for this enquiry varied between practitioners, however a few key themes appeared in our conclusions. The young people were initially very enthusiastic about the opportunity to focus on a key social skill in class. In many of the classrooms the young people could be seen encouraging others to listen and reflecting very thoughtfully when completing their social learning logs. The enthusiasm did wean in most classes after the first couple of weeks, but the learning atmosphere in class was still good. The group generally felt that implementing the social learning intentions was a good behaviour management tool and often found themselves referring back to the lesson’s social focus throughout the lesson. Moving forward it was generally felt that the social learning intentions should be made part of the classroom routine from day one. Embedding good listening, contributions and kindness in to each lesson explicitly and consistently could create a welcoming and purposeful learning atmosphere for the young people.