Personal Development

Personal Development

The personal development of the student is clearly paramount in the CP. This page introduces the theme for students to find their motivation, vision and 'buy-in' they need for their CP course and life beyond. Topics such as Setting expectations and Confidence building, as well as Stress management and specific focus on Careers, Pathways and Life Skills are coming soon. Ready made lessons, research and all clearly indicate learning objectives and multiple themes addressed. 

Personal Development in context

Personal Development in 2021

This theme addresses the development of students’ confidence, independence, interpersonal skills and resilience in a variety of personal and professional situations and contexts. It is likely that, as of September 2020, schools naturally place a priority on this theme as a response to the impact the Covid 19 pandemic has had on young people with a prolonged absence from conventional schooling.

Where to start? Start here: 
Acknowledge the global context right now and consider a global mindset.

Tom Rivett-Carnac, a political strategist working with the UN, created a TedTalk in April 2020 utilized here; it captures the zeitgeist and the overwhelming feelings many people are coming to terms with right now.

Students can watch the talk in full and/or reflect on his concluding remarks in this handout. Further thoughts on developing discussion are included in the teacher notes below making use of Harvard Project Zero Thinking Routines.

'Stubborn optimism and action'

'One of the many things I learnt as a monk is that a bright mind and a joyful heart is both the path and the goal in life. This stubborn optimism is a form of applied love. It is both the world we want to create and the way in which we can create that world. And it is a choice for all of us. Choosing to face this moment with stubborn optimism can fill our lives with meaning and purpose, and in doing so, we can put a hand on the arc of history and bend it towards the future that we choose.

Yes, living now feels out of control. It feels frightening and scary and new. But let's not falter at this most crucial of transitions that is coming at us right now. Let's face it with stubborn and determined optimism.

Yes, seeing the changes in the world right now can be painful. But let's approach it with love.'


How to shift your mindset and choose your future


Teacher Notes: Introducing Thinking Routines

This site refers regularly to the fantastic thinking routines available to use from Harvard Project Zero and how they can be used in different contexts to support PPS and the student tackling their whole CP course.

This introduction to the PPS course can be a valuable opportunity to put in place thinking routines that help them reflect explicitly on the work they are approaching. This is also a clear reminder that it is near impossible to really separate the PPS themes from each other as all topics can be supported hugely by considering the 'thinking processes' that might support the development of students' skills and of course this is a theme in its own right.

As a direct result of the discussion that comes from the worksheet and TedTalk provided here, a simple core thinking routine for students to respond to in their visual journals (or whichever way they choose to respond) may help shift thinking into a growth mindset.

Prompt: 'I used to think .... Now I think ...'

This helps students to reflect, in an unthreatening way, about a topic they have discussed and how and why they might have had their thinking challenges. You can ask them to write just one statement that they feel is true to start with or give them a time limit to write down thoughts. Those willing to share can do so or you might see it as a moment of personal reflection.

Wider significance: It might also be a way for students to explore WHAT they actually think for the first time and in the context of 2020, it might be wise to prepare for a variety of responses from floodgates opening to realising that it will take a lot more work to get students reflecting and opening up about their experiences. Whatever the success of this exercise, it sets studetns on the road of developing their ability to reason and acknowledge causality in relationships. It may well be that they find it particularly challenging the first time they tackle it but then the regular application of this throughout the PPS course, make is far easier for them to process change. For example within regular debates, research assignments as well as the far larger task of developing their reflective project, the simple 'then and now' process can really demonstrate to students not just changes or shifts in thinking but also the progress they are making and the role they play in their understanding of the world; little moments like that can build confidence hugely.

Developing the course with staff and students

Preparing students for the future

The following exercise is good for staff CPD as well as smaller, more informal discussions. It also can be utilised by students throughout the PPS course to reflect on both their Career-Related Studies and DP subjects and the commonalities of key competencies being used. Whether you are starting out as a newly authorised CP school or have been running the programme for a long time, continual revision of your PPS course is needed to keep it current and heading towards complete concurrency of learning across the whole CP course as far as possible.

Michaela Horvathova at The Center for Curriculum Redesign produced a report, at the start of 2020, identifying key competencies needed by students for the future workplace and how well the DP and CP prepare students in these.

How does your course explore Knowledge, Skills, Character and Meta-Learning?

How do you explore in your course/s...?

   What we know and understand                                 How we use what we know
How we behave and engage in the world                 How we reflect and adapt

How does your course promote...?

    Lesson plan: Introducing Personal Development  

    Consider the system that you put in place for your students' personal development journey ...

    ... A system that threads through the entirety of their course and not just limited to an introductory topic. For example, the following exercises are inspired by and adapted from The A Level Mindset by Steve Oakes and Martin Griffin. The authors make use of their bespoke VESPA system to develop16-18 year old growth Mindset. Through targeting Vision, Effort, Systems, Preferences and Attitude, students are able to weather successfully the stresses and strains of a challenging sixth form course.

    Exercise 1: Setting your vision 

    At the start of the course, asking students to create a 'vision board' of their likes and dislikes is a good way not only of them finding centre and identity but also bypasses the ineffectual questions such as 'what do you want to be?' or 'what is your goal?' Often and understandably, students need time to develop their goals - maybe to find some tangible aspirations but also they need time to have the confidence to acknowledge ambitions they might have. These exercises can be completed as a visual journal, a large piece of wall art, a prezi or powerpoint presentation ... as long as it is visual, and easily accessed and seen by students, they can experiment with different modes.

    Step 1. Vision board: 'All about Me'
    Below is the early stages of a vision board created by a student.

    Consider the image and the accompanying questions. 



    Where does your focus lie? Ask students to find images that engage or inspire them from their interests and home life: music, languages, art, film, media, sciences, politics, environment, theatre, technology, sport ...  to name a few.
    Extension: This exercise can be extended both now and at any stage, as you get to know a class, by asking them to include images that capture their past, present and future.

    Further notes on exercise

    Educators like to create their own vision board sometimes or you can use the vision board provided below to get discussion going on what you can tell about this person's interests from their vision board. You may choose to do this part way through the exercise as a way for students to reflect on work they have completed so far rather than suggesting that their work must look a certain way.

    Step 2. Giving feedback ...
    You might want to introduce students to presenting slowly so their confidence builds gradually; also making presenting as diverse and authentic as possible, makes it become an even more natural process for students.

    You can organise students giving feedback in a number of ways or you can use the following as a 5 step process leading towards further reflection.

    1. Display all vision boards around the classroom like a gallery so students can look at each others' work before presenting.
    2. Analyse: rather than asking an individual student to explain their choices, you may ask the rest of the students to ascertain what they can deduce about this person from their vision board.
    3. Interview: Continuing along a similar theme, asking the class to interview the owner of each piece of work can put a hesitant speaker at more ease as well as work on students' inquiry skills.
    4. Synthesise and evaluate: What commonalities can students find across their vision boards and what could the significance of this be?
    5. Reflect: Any number of questions that can be used for private reflection from the learner profile through to more specific inquiry into culture. A few suggestions at this early stage: What is missing from your boards? What did you forget to include? What does your board have that no one else has? Is there anything you did not want to include or share?  Is there anything that surprised you about this exercise?

    Remember that these boards can be revisited, reviewed and reflected upon with completely different questions.

    Step 3. Questions to delve deeper

    These questions focus on a student's attitude to work and life as they are inextricably linked when it comes to a student's understanding of themselves and what makes them tick. Students may want to develop their vision board from Step 1 further after considering these questions. Depending on the dynamic of the class, you can organise it as a class activity where students pick a number at random to answer or as an interview conducted in pairs.

    1. Name five things that make you smile.
    2. If you could only take one subject, what would it be?
    3. What do you find it easy to do? Think both work and in home life
    4. What jobs do you avoid doing? Think both work and in home life
    5. What are you doing when time flies?
    6. What job would you do for free?
    7. You suddenly have a free afternoon on your hands: what do you choose to do with it?
    8. If you were given an afternoon off to work at home, what subject would you choose to do?
    9. Do you leave some work until the last minute? Think of the last piece that you did this way and finish the sentence 'I left it until the last minute because ...'
    10. Name five things that make you sigh.
    11. What would you try to do if you were guaranteed to succeed? Why?
    12. List the first words that come into your head when you hear the word 'happiness'.
    13. List the first words that come into your head when you hear the word 'stress'.
    14. If you could start a company, what would it be for?
    15. What do you talk about with friends? Is there anything you would like to talk about with friends but you don't?
    16. When was the last time you dismissed doing or trying something new? Explain that choice. What if you had done it?
    17. When does time fly and time drag?
    18. Name five things that make you cry.
    19. Who would play you in the film of your life and why?
    20. What is guaranteed to distract you?
    Further notes on exercise
    The apparent randomness of these questions is somewhat intentional. Students will find some questions far easier than others to answer but the mixing up of topics will not allow them to get too fixated on 'getting it right' and perhaps allow them to pick up on common threads coming out of their answers. It goes without saying that if conducting this exercise as a whole class discussion, students have the right to keep responses to themselves and do not have to share anything they do not want to with the class.

    Quick ideas: Plenaries and reflections

    Plenaries and reflections can be utilised at any time through a lesson for all sorts of reasons from considering the work that has just been done, making plans for the future or even changing the dynamic of a class that has got rather heated from a debate.
    It is all part of letting PPS take you in directions that really inspire, challenge and motivate students. As ever, educators often find activities of this type can be anything from 5 minute distractions to a full series of lessons.
    You must meet ... 

    Ask students to research people that they most admire in the world and what character attributes they possess that makes them so admirable. (Stress the local and global dynamic - these people do not need to be famous and distant!) You also can utilise the learner profile as a launchpad for attributes they might consider.

    Extend the exercise by asking students to consider people they admire from their career-related studies and DP subjects and, again, the attributes they display that makes them someone to look up to.

    'You must meet ...': This makes a good opportunity for students to introduce one of their choices to each other in a paired activity to help them articulate the qualities they admire in others.

    What does this exercise tell you about what you admire in people?
    Are there any areas where you are lacking someone to inspire you?

    Understanding key capabilities

    Traffic light exercise: Using the key words in the word cloud below, reflect on their relation to your whole CP course: your DP subjects, your career-related studies and individual aspects of the core.

    Labelling each segment with one of the key words, use a traffic light system of Red/Yellow/Green to show how well you think your CP course is encouraging you to practice that particular skill.

    There is room in each segment to give an example of a subject where you think it is particularly relevant

    Approaches to Teaching and Learning

    Approaches to learning

    The lesson plans and activities on this page can be delivered to include implicit and explicit reference to a range of Approaches to Teaching and Learning. The key to students being able to identify skills and use them in a range of situations is to teach the skill explicitly before incorporating it implicitly in a range of contexts.

    Approaches to Learning: Self-management
    Key skills area: Self-motivation, Mindfulness awareness, Emotional management

    Introduction: How to shift your mindset and choose your future: Thinking routine 'I used to think ... Now I ...'

    Step 1. Setting your vision: 'All about Me'

    Step 2. Giving feedback ...

    Step 3. Questions to delve deeper

    Plenary: You must meet ...

    Plenary: Understanding key capabilities

      Top Tip: Remember that 'less is more' when making the links to ATL.

      It can be a temptation to draw students' attention to the sheer number of ATL skills that they are accessing at any particular   
      time. You know within PPS that a topic will be exploring any one of the five themes even if your introduction is through explicit
      focus on one; the same applies to ATL. Try isolating a specific skill and then:

    Make explicit reference to it and establish prior learning and experience
    Make it useful with ways to practice it so students can experience how it works
    Make it transferrable by having moments to consider where they have used this skill before, how they are developing it and where it might be useful in the future.
    Make it visible by have the students record and reflect upon the processes they have used.
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