As a classroom teacher, I had a group of students I feel I let down – badly. It was never intentional. I wanted to help them; I just didn’t know how to help them. I couldn’t get through to them in the way I wanted.
These students weren’t exactly wasting their time, but they weren’t spending their time effectively, either. They’d rarely slack off enough to warrant getting into trouble, but neither would they push themselves enough to excel. They’d be “on task”, but sometimes only barely.
"These students coasted through school, never taking charge of their learning or path through life."
These students handed in work that was “satisfactory”. I’d give them formative feedback on how to improve, but they’d shrug their shoulders and say their work was “good enough”.
From time to time, I’d challenge them to push themselves. I’d write things in their reports like, “Johnny could do better,” or, “If Johnny applied himself more, his results could improve.” But this made little impact.
Now, 30 years later, I understand that practically all teachers have students like these in their classrooms. In literature, these students are labelled as “underachieving”. In the staff room, they’re described as simply “not doing their best”.
I now recognise what I was doing wrong and how we can all better serve this type of student.
Developing Learnership – the skill of learning To better serve students who “coast” through school, we need to focus less on what they are learning and focus more on how they are learning. We need to be teachers not only of content but also of the skill of learning. We must concentrate intentionally and explicitly on helping these students understand the learning process.
"We need to develop what I’ve come to call ‘Learnership’ – the skill of learning.”
Think of Learnership in the same way you think of craftsmanship or leadership. It denotes a skilful act.
Students with Learnership see themselves as active, skilful learners. They have a deep understanding of the learning process and how they engage in it. Like any other skill, they continually work at developing and improving the way they engage in the craft of learning.
These insights into learning motivate students by giving them the “power to act” in their world rather than letting the world “act on them”. This is central to Learner Agency.Students cease seeing themselves as powerless players in the game of education and become powerful controllers of their learning.
The first step to becoming a skilful learner is to understand that learning is a skill! Unfortunately, many of our students are passive learners. They allow themselves to be led through the learning process without really paying attention to it, let alone taking control of it.
To help teachers, students, and parents recognise what skilful learning looks like, I have created the Learnership Matrix. This matrix helps students identify how they currently engage in the learning process. Most importantly, it points the way towards becoming an even more skilful learner.
Would you like to know more about how you can help your students become skilful learners? To embrace challenges and develop Learnership?
To find out more about how I can help you develop Learnership, simply email me,visit my website or schedule a time in my calendarfor a conversation.
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