Metacognition can be his superpower

Metacognition is a big word used to describe what many of us do every day without realising: thinking about thinking. First coined in 1976 by Developmental Psychologist John H. Flavell, metacognition refers to the internal dialogue that enables us to reflect on or manage our thoughts, attention, effort, organisation and emotions. A growing body of evidence emphasises the critical importance of metacognition to learning success.

While the development of metacognitive skills start at a young age, research suggests it is only through explicit instruction, prolonged practice and extensive experience that students can develop into competent metacognitive adults. Furthermore, studies indicate embedding metacognition into teaching pedagogy provides students with the opportunity to become active and engaged participants in their learning. Skillful metacognition is knowing the what, how, when and above all, the why.

At Ipswich Grammar School, our Explicit Teaching model purposefully embeds metacognitive skills into each and every lesson offered to our boys. Each lesson starts with the Learning Intention – the what. In the I Do phase, our teachers meticulously model incremental steps to success - the how. During the We Do phase, our teachers work with our boys to gradually scaffold new skills across a range of contexts – the when. Following the You Do phase, where our boys have opportunities to demonstrate their newly acquired skills, our teachers use the Plough Back phase to guide reflection on the most important component of learning – the why. Put simply, our Explicit Teaching model empowers our boys to learn how to learn.

When our boys become conscious of their thinking, they move from a fixed mindset that forces a passive approach to learning, to a growth mindset which promotes self-awareness, persistence and resilience. We intentionally challenge our boys to strive for exceptional performance. Our boys know their strengths and their next-step goals. On first encounter, it is tempting for our boys to resort to giving up and yet, in order to thrive, our boys need to transition from the negative, “I can’t” to the proactive, “How can I?” Metacognition can be his superpower.