Metacognition is one of the most effective and impactful pedagogical strategies available to educators. Implemented correctly, the improvement on progress can be 7+ months for pupils (according to the UK’s EEF), and have a positive impact of 0,69 within an academic year (according to John Hattie’s meta-analysis of classroom strategies), ranking it within the top-15 most useful pedagogical tools available to teachers. Furthermore, metacognition is at the heart of Singapore Maths, although metacognitive strategies can also be utilised across all different school subjects, and with all age ranges.
Metacognition is no ‘flash in the pan’ classroom strategy, with teachers globally realising the benefits, and devising strategies since the late 1990s, a full 20 years since the ‘thinking about thinking‘ term was coined by Educational Psychologist, John Flavell. Planning to use metacognition with the classroom does require an investment in time from school-leaders, teachers and students, so ensuring that all involved understand the language and thought-processes of metacognition is essential.
Planning for metacognition
Careful planning is required when implementing metacognitive strategies, with initial training in understanding metacognition should equip you with potential strategies that can be used in your classroom. However, it is important that you don’t overload your students with different strategies.
Although our training (click here to explore our INSET training) offers 65+ individual strategies, choose 2 or 3 relevant strategies that you feel could work in your environment. Ensure that all adults working with you understand and implement the strategies when working with students, ensuring that the language and metacognitive questions become part of daily classroom practice.
Implement the strategies chosen in daily activities and practice. Persist with the strategies, referring to the metacognition cycle to help student automate thinking to help them progress with their learning.
Essentially, speak to nearby colleagues to review how the use of the strategies are working for teachers & students. Review the activities used, refining or improving language & questions used. Revisit strategies available to develop repertoire, reviewing & reflecting regularly. Consider the progress of your students, and seek their feedback to understand their experiences of metacognition and metacognitive thinking.
The 4p’s of Metacognition
When introducing metacognition into your school, department or classroom, the 4p’s of metacognitive practice need consideration when planning your approach.
- Planning – Plan your approaches (as above), and build strategies into medium or longer-term unit plans.
- Persistence – Persist with your strategy. It will take time for students to realise your metacognitive language and questioning techniques, but the ultimate result is in ensuring that they progress.
- Permanence – Make metacognition a permanent part of your school, department or classroom. Working with metacognitive strategies within one term will not yield long term positive outcomes.
- Patience – Be patient. Some colleagues and students will accept the new metacognition language and strategies quickly, whereas the different approach will take time for others to absorb and accept.
To ensure metacognitive strategies work well in schools, a clear understanding of why and what metacognition means is required by all members of the community. Any half-hearted training and investment will lead to half-hearted and patchy outcomes. Take time to invest in staff training (which is at the heart behind the success Singapore maths), understanding and implementation. Explore our Metacognition INSET training here, and keep an eye out for our video-based online course that is in the work, all built to ensure a deep understanding of metacognition, and the classroom strategies that can develop resilient and deep learning within all subjects.