10 ways to give students control…

The least successful session I ever facilitated for teachers was one I had been asked to do on goal setting. It’s something I am neither comfortable with nor expert at. I don’t set formal goals for myself, so it wasn’t authentic. I was uncertain of the value of the session and I was performing to someone else’s script.

A colleague told me she was uncomfortable teaching a new grade level and thought she wasn’t suited to teaching this age. It actually had little to do with the students and a great deal to do with the fact that she was guided by others who had taught the units before. She used their lesson plans, which didn’t always fit in with her style of teaching or beliefs about learning. She was performing to someone else’s script.

Talented actors can perform to anyone’s script and bring something of themselves to the role. But most of us find it easier to perform to a script of our own creation, which reflects our own beliefs, values and ideas. We need to question things that don’t feel right. We need to follow our instincts. We need to listen to our inner voices. We need to take risks and experiment with our ideas. We need to create our own scripts…

How does this play out for our students? How do we ensure they don’t spend most of their school lives performing to someone else’s script?

1. Make sure they have choice in what they learn and how they learn.

2. Ask their opinions and listen to them.

3. Care about what they say.

4. Don’t make all the decisions.

5. Provide a safe environment for experimentation with ideas.

6. Teach them that mistakes are part of learning.

7. Encourage them to follow their interests and their passions.

8. Provide opportunities for creativity.

9. Create a culture of thinking, where everyone’s thinking is valued.

10. Don’t expect them to do things without knowing why.

The only things in our way are demanding curricula, prescribed programs, content based text-books, standardised testing, emphasis on grades,  parental expectations…