Best Practices for Students To Take Ownership Of Their Learning 

Best Practices for Students to Take Ownership of Their Learning 

Here are a few of the techniques and practices recommended by experts:

Let students lead

Most schools revolve around a teacher-led approach, but for your students to take charge of their learning, you must ensure that teaching is not the only focus of the classroom. You should consider yourself as a guide rather than the master and open yourself to learning as much (if not more) from the students as they learn from you.

Encourage student input

Instead of focusing solely on the "facts" and testing them, ask your students to respond to self-reflecting opinion questions. This will give you an idea of what is going on in the lives of your students and provide feedback on what they are digesting and integrating from your lessons.

Do not assign excess work

Assigning too much homework or classwork, keeping students busy most of the time, can keep students in a relentless state of anxiety and create a pattern of longing to be "productive" all the time. However, a reverse psychology technique and offering students strategic pauses from learning can prevent burn-out and allow them to "recharge their batteries", to speak.

Allow failures

Each of us fails at least once in our lives, it is an inevitable part of life, and we must accept it. Creating a classroom where making mistakes and giving incorrect answers are safe and natural experiences for students is essential. It would help if you allow them to learn from their failures and make the most of their creativity to improve or find a solution.

Turn teaching into an active and engaging experience

Replace standard lectures with activities that make the classroom feel like it is part of the learning process. With this technique, you can create opportunities for participation and eventually hold students accountable for their learning, proving that they can take ownership of their education. As we teach children to own their learning, we must understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. We should prioritize freedom and independence, helping children gain the confidence and experience they need to make more informed and committed decisions about their learning experience.

Make good relations

Connect with your students, provide them with a comfortable space where they can talk and share about their schoolwork and life as well, like what their home life is like, what wonders did their previous academic made, what shaped their confidence, and their aspirations and dreams; it will help build strong relationships. This way, you get clues to their lives and help them reach what they want, instead of what a remote school administrator sets up for them. Beyond these points, educators understand each of their student's strengths and challenges and students. They discuss strategies that work for them and how to implement them in a variety of contexts. They set targets for nearly every day, week or semester and assess their progress against these targets. In doing so, they demonstrate a mastery of learning that will accompany them throughout their academic learning days and beyond.

Challenges make way for learning opportunities

Being an academician is not as easy as it sounds. It is a challenge to get enthusiasm, engagement and attention in the classroom. But teachers need to sit back and talk to them and engage them in learning.

Also, most middle schoolers are naturally curious and want to feel useful and competent, so if you find that a student is underperforming, you need to work on the particular student and help find the real cause of their disengagement and then address it.

Furthermore, some students need to learn how to advocate for themselves and ask for a different assignment that inspires them. At other times, they have to overcome an emotional barrier that consumes their energy and find ways to prevent their feelings from interfering with their work. Sometimes, they need to know that another person believes they can do it. By learning how to solve their problems, they are not just figuring out how to be better students, but how to take ownership over a lifetime of learning!

Trust your students

Teachers often do not trust their students when teaching the class; of course, it is an activity. Some of the teachers are very uncomfortable with it. They get the feeling that if they are not large and in charge, they are not teaching. They believe to be on the guiding side always.

But students can learn in both situations, and they learn more when we trust them to behave like adults and be in charge of their learning. This unique approach involves teachers trusting students and building relationships differently. You may use a project-based learning approach; it is one of the perfect ways to implement "guide on the side" teaching because it requires students to make more decisions about their learning and be held accountable by their peers.

However, giving students choices, creating independent learning opportunities, using students as experts in the classroom, allowing them to help you set up class expectations all lend themselves to putting students in charge of their learning.

Furthermore, when students are empowered to take charge of their learning, they grow up in multiple ways and discover things about themselves that they would never discover in a classroom only. These are the intangibles they will use in life long after the content you taught has faded away.

Consider students' voice

Some teachers have a lecture only classroom where students' rarely get an opportunity to say or put forward their views and opinions. Even if they get the chance, their voices are not considered.

So we as teachers must increase the voice of students in the courses as it can provide one or more opportunities, like solicit anonymous feedback from students at any point in the class or during the semester, help establish a discussion with students regarding necessary classwork's or class plans or specific changes based on the anonymous feedback, implement peer review using assessment criteria provided by the instructor, consider activities to help identify challenge points for students (self-assessments, reflections, etc.) Also, solicit feedback on classroom activities and assignments. Provide autonomy for collaborative group development (interview, role selection/allocation, etc.)

Authentic learning experiences and assessments

To make students take ownership of their learning, we need to provide authentic and stimulating learning experiences and assessments. To do so, you can try some fantastic ways that can help connect students to real-world situations, such as arranging student debates, assigning project-based learning projects, having them read case studies, incorporating interdisciplinary projects, connecting course work to real-world applications, referring to students as potential future experts in their areas of interest, include (build into) service-learning projects and work, organize industry tours or invite industry experts to your class.

Co-create goals with students

Goal setting and data lie at the heart of learner agency; students who set goals based on data can reflect on their performance and navigate their learning. Educators should first establish goals with students at the group level (e.g., classroom learning goals, daily/weekly attendance goals). Then model the practice and build the muscle of creating and reflecting upon goals. However, other goals based on individual or behavioural aspirations should also be prioritized beyond academic goals. Students develop the cyclical patterns of setting goals, determining actions, reflecting on progress and reviewing goals. Teachers can create goal-setting structures at the level of small groups and individuals in real-time, gradually helping pupils acquire the skills they need to take ownership of their goal-setting. They should also be able to co-create different kinds of goals using data with the help of their teachers.

Teach and practice the skills required for student-directed learning

It is essential to teach learners strategies to manage their time, persevere when things get tough, solve problems when their plan does not work, and organize their thoughts and materials. You also need to pay attention to where learners come across the proverbial brick wall and then develop mini-lessons to strengthen these skills. It can encourage a growth mindset and help students learn complex things, and teach them courage and perseverance.

Allow students to make choices and decisions

It is not easy to manage our students for a series of tasks and then step back and expect them to work independently on another. You have to provide them freedom in the small tasks, too. It is found that when students are asked to do things precisely — like working on standardized tests — you need to acknowledge the mindset shift that's required of kids in this situation. Start by giving them more choices right in your classroom routines, like choosing where to sit, what to do first, and so on. All this will help to strengthen their confidence and hold them accountable for their learning process.

Provide additional structure to the needy-kids

The one-size-fits-all concept may not apply. Some learners thrive under open-ended directions, while others are terrified of committing a mistake or have no idea what to do next. Give a little more help and support to these children. Provide them with a checklist of steps and an ally to help, guide and check in if they feel like they are losing their way. Also, scaffold their learning and slowly increase their capacity so that with each successive project, they can be more independent.

Allow learners to design the learning outcome

Usually, students resist creating their projects or directing their learning process. Either they think the teacher already has a fixed goal in mind, or they are afraid to be reprimanded by the teacher for suggestions. They know that we have already envisioned what a good project will look like, and it is overwhelming for them to play the game of trying to meet that expectation and designing the learning process to get them there.

So, try creating the outcome mutually. Ask students, "How will we know if you have accomplished your goal? What would the subject-matter mastery look like? How do we evaluate your learning? and more.

Then, if you find any student trying to get you to take over their project, ask, "Is this correct?" or encourage them saying "This is what you have designed. You have determined what the outcome would be, so you can determine whether or not you are on track. Let us take a look at the learning outcome/design you have created and see how we can take you to the next level."Eventually, this will encourage learners.

References: 

https://www.arthurmorganschool.org/student-ownership-of-learning/ 

https://timeoutforteachers.com/empower-students-to-take-ownership/ 

https://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/truth-for-teachers-podcast/student-ownership/ 

https://practices.learningaccelerator.org/problem-of-practice/student-ownership-how-do-i-support-students-in-building-agency-and-owning-their-data 

https://www.arthurmorganschool.org/student-ownership-of-learning/ 

About the Author
Author: Saniya Khan
Saniya Khan I am Saniya Khan, Copy-Editor at EdTechReview - India’s leading edtech media. As a part of the group, my aim is to spread awareness on the growing edtech market by guiding all educational stakeholders on latest and quality news, information and resources. A voraciously curious writer with a dedication to excellence creates interesting yet informational pieces, playing with words since 2016.

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