What Learning Actually Looks Like

by irms

I mean, really. You stand in front of room all day, you use emphasis, you try to be funny, and you’ve got this range of faces looking back at you. There are moments you doubt yourself. Are you wasting their time? Are they resenting you? They’re judging you, for sure.

Student Priorities

Student Priorities

Every teacher, tutor, trainer and presenter wants to know. How can you tell when the students are learning? What are the signs? Because once you’ve got the clue, you can do more of whatever is working.

Do they sit up straighter? Pipe up when you ask for feedback? Can you tell they’re learning when they scribble in their notebooks and turn in their homework when you ask for it?


More than anything, I think those things are indicators of being well behaved, not necessarily of ingesting information.

“So what the hell, irms? Are you saying we can’t tell when students are learning?” you rudely say to me. I think you can.

Learning looks like teaching.

Something inherent in a student’s brain understands how to give instruction where you can’t reach. Maybe you don’t remember what it’s like to not get it. Maybe you don’t see that they don’t understand. Maybe they’ve faked you out. Maybe you’ve simply used all the words you know to explain the concept and cannot, for the very life of you, find more.

People that know things are the ones that explain to people who don’t know things. i.e. The ones who have learned, teach the ones who have not yet learned.

Motivations are wildly different. The sharing of ‘how to’ between students is driven by all sorts of reasons. The smart kids want everyone else to get it so they can move on, the least brainy finally know something others don’t, still others are natural instructors, predisposed to dispensing information. The agendas are immaterial. The basic tell is the same: learners teach.

And you shouldn’t stop them from doing so lest you crush the only indicator you have for knowing what your students have learned from you, by overhearing them teach it to others.