Teaching practice that integrates the key competencies

The literature recommends ways teachers can weave the KCs into their practice to help students learn to learn. These include teachers:

  • understanding that the KCs work alongside the gaining of knowledge and are tools to better understand and work with knowledge (Hipkins, Bolstad, Boyd, & McDowall, 2014, pp. 135-137)
  • encouraging students by using language appropriate to the learning area; for example, telling students they are ‘thinking like historians,’ or ‘investigating like scientists’ (Hipkins, 2017, p. 4)
  • giving KCs the right degree of specificity: if they are too general, students may find it hard to understand their significance; if they are too narrow in meaning, their use can be limited (Lucas, Claxton, & Spencer, 2013, p. 66)
  • fostering a growth mindset by:
    • using optimistic words about students’ learning progress; rather than saying a student has not achieved a skill or task, the teacher can say the student is ‘beginning to develop’ or ‘will achieve with more support’
    • encouraging students to learn from their mistakes by emphasising the benefits of constructive criticism and expressing it in a way that avoids embarrassment
    • encouraging students to set ambitious goals, and offering support as they pursue these
    • encouraging deliberate practice, for purposeful and systematic learning (Lucas, Claxton, & Spencer, 2013, pp. 138-140)
  • posing ‘wicked problems’ to help students become comfortable with ambiguity and to provide opportunities to employ competencies in novel situations (Hipkins, Bolstad, Boyd & McDowall, 2014); and
  • guiding students participating in self- and peer-assessment of their learning, with students and teachers sharing common language to describe learning (Hipkins, 2008) Guidance counsellors can also help development by asking students to reflect and practise the KCs to resolve challenges in their lives. Guidance counsellors are often able to gain insights to the specific needs of students and how they can overcome behaviours negatively affecting their learning (Kotzé, Hughes, Graham, & Burke, 2014).