Student character – do students have a stake in the ‘how’ of their own learning process?

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It has been a long held view in my school that learning is a process in which students take part; it is not something that is done to them. Not only should students know what they are learning and why they are learning it, but  how they are learning. Once they are able to hold a stake in this discussion, they are then able learn ‘it’ better.

Essentially, students should be able to self-regulate and plan accordingly. They know best their process of learning and if they are finding a task ‘too difficult’, and then what their natural response is to this situation (e.g. poor behaviour, avoidance or procrastiantion to name but a few responses). Our task is to help students to intervene at this point, so that they manage their own effort levels and approach through meta cognitive strategies. There a number of ways in which students can do this and in future posts I will share some (most of which I have ripped off and adapted from other sources, and will credit accordingly where possible).

Some of our students work hard, very hard, but there is always a way to improve, to work harder and to challenge themselves. Particular texts that deal with this concept are Phil Beadle’s ‘The Book of Plenary‘ (the latter section which talks about meta-cognitive strategies students can use to plan their won learning) and the ‘Growth Mindset Pocketbook‘ by Barry Hymer. The former for its ideas that students should plan for how they learn i.e. if they are to go off task, why is this and what is their plan to be back on task. The latter as I feel that all far too often students are not resilient to failure and miss the opportunity to turn a fail into a First Attempt in Learning.

I feel that, from what I have observed, that often students lack independence and qualities such as grit and resilience; as soon as something is too hard or challenging, that they resort to off task behaviour and then there is lost learning time. There is a host of material which covers this very concept; from a recent Educators Podcast (click here) about the KIPP school in the USA, which teaches character (grit, determination, empathy etc) to Angela Duckworth’s Ted talk “The key to success? Grit” (click here).

In summary, I am starting to drip feed in to my lessons more resources which will allow students the opportunity to manage and regulate their own learning, which in turn will give them the opportunity to develop those key characteristics of grit: growth, resilience, integrity and tenacity. I will make these resources available for all to use, reinvent or ignore and please do feel free to leave any feedback in how they could be work even better!

In this post, I will start with the Effort Level Regulation Sheet that I have produced for KS3 Spanish lessons, which was developed from something which a colleague handed to me (which in turn means it was taken from somewhere else and I therefore do in no way present this resource as entirely my own work). The idea is that they read the effort descriptors and decide at which level they currently are. They write a next step into the box, to which I have responded in a red pen to make sure that targets set are SMART as well as to maintain a student-teacher dialogue. We will then review this at a later date (I did it at the beginning of this half term and will revisit it just before the Christmas holidays to see if students feel there has been a shift in their effort levels).  Click Effort Level Reflection Sheet Spanish to download.

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