Students follow a prescribed programme of activities on a weekly basis during their morning tutor periods. Mindset Mondays, focus on activities which are designed to provoke thought and provide students with tools that aid and support their learning and which enable them to work independently.
Mindset activities follow a five-point plan, known as VESPA. This model was devised by Steve Oakes and Martin Griffin, experienced teachers from the North West of England. Each letter of the word VESPA covers a key area of learning as follows:
Students perform well in their learning when they have a clear vision relating to their future plans. Some students know exactly what their future learning/career path will be, whilst others struggle to know what their options will be. Even if students cannot see the long-term picture, it is still possible for them to have a focus that is more short-term, to allow them to have reachable goals and aims.
As an example of an activity, students are encouraged to consider their long and short term goals. They can do this by collecting photographs or images which relate to their future plans and keeping them in the front of their book. This reminds students of their goals every time that they open their book. Shorter term goals include thinking ahead to imagine what students would like their next Assessment Grade sheet to look like, then considering what they need to do in each class to make it happen.
Whilst students are aware that improved performance requires them to engage with effort, they are not always clear about how best to implement their focus to ensure maximum impact. The number of hours of independent study a student is willing to do, will impact on their ability to be successful, particularly in their later years in school.
Students are encouraged to recognise the myth of effortless success. Activities encourage them to think about the amount of time they are spending on their home learning as well as how they are spending the time. The more economic they can be with the time they are using, the better the outcomes should be. Effort x Practice = Efficient returns on your investment!
The most organised students tend to also be the highest performers. They plan ahead and know how they are going to spend their time. The most efficient students have systems which help them to understand and engage with their learning and also systems which help them to complete key activities and tasks to given deadlines.
System based activities are designed to help students who struggle with their personal organisational skills to learn ways to help themselves become better at prioritising tasks. A timeline activity used in form time can help students to determine categories of tasks from their ‘to-do’ lists to ensure that they place urgent tasks at the front of the queue and don’t block them by trying to complete other activities which could wait longer.
Students often refer to revision as a specific task which arrives just before the exam or test period in the school calendar. So many students think of revision as the creation of cue-cards, the reading of their text book or notes, or making mind maps. Whilst all of these are relevant and helpful tasks, the only teach the knowledge and not how to apply it.
Practice activities focus students on strategies to help them not just learn information but also how to process and apply it across different circumstances. An activity such as ‘The Memory Clock’, where students choose a test question, research it and then answer and check it under timed conditions is an excellent tool for helping students to recall and contextualise their knowledge.
Behind so much success if the need to engage in all learning with the right attitude in the first place. If you are determined to fail, then that will be the outcome! Encouraging students to have a positive approach to their learning and to when they meet challenge, builds resilience and helps them to learn how to cope in new situations.
Activities teach students about Confidence, emotional intelligence and control, Academic buoyancy and Growth mindset. Learning how to recover from set-backs is an essential part of learning how to be more successful.