Post Covid-19 – Autonomous Learning

Two days back into ‘normal face to face classes’ and I hit a wall.
Everything I had learnt and everything my students had learnt during lockdown had been thrown out the window. I don’t know why, but it is just sometimes easier to do what you always do.
Run with the status quo. Don’t rock the boat. This is what I know.

Then a corridor conversation with a colleague changed my approach. She was struggling with the same dilemma. We talked through some options and explored some ideas. The next day was something a little different. – how can we take what we learnt with Covid and make changes meaningful changes for our students.

Jump ahead 7 days and my class is a different beast. Below is an outline of what my class now looks like and the processes and structures we have.

  • In a Year 7/8 class, like most primary classrooms, writing up the day’s plan is a given. Not any more. Nothing is on the whiteboard indicating what and when students will be learning. Instead students have to access their day via Microsoft Teams.
  • We spend the first 15 minutes of the day in silent reading, followed by a 5 minute look at the work for today. Students must indicate they have read slide and therefore the suggested order of work. I then go over any questions that students may have. From then students are free to make decisions about what they work on and for how long.
  • All student work is now delivered via Microsoft Teams. Weekly Assessments are on Teams, which makes marking a breeze.
  • I supply my class with an overview of the week ahead on Monday.
  • I then back that up with a daily image of what is expected. Their timetable is outlined and their learning for today is a suggestion of the work they should do. At this stage I am even suggesting they follow the order I have.
  • Monday, as usual is goal setting day for my class. Gone is the paper copy and now students spend 15 minutes writing their goals in OneNote.
  • Each day I set set aside a subject for direct instruction. Monday = Maths. Tuesday = Reading. I also do a general writing lesson on Tuesday to teach the students the skills they need for their weekly writing task. RE a mixture of autonomous learning and more traditional class.
  • Wednesday is Individual Student Meetings. Each student has a 10minute meeting with me. We record our meeting on the students goal setting page using text and voice recording. In that meeting I make sure they are working towards their weekly goals and have a look at their work from the previous week.
  • Student have been placed in mixed ability Learning Pods. I have gone with 4 groups. Within these groups student have a learning buddy but at this stage I haven’t used this.
  • Learning Resources are available to students via files in their team. This includes the weekly and daily overviews.

Following the first three days of this new system I had a chat with the class. Here was the result.

Finally over the last couple of days I have collected some student feedback. Two simple questions. What has been good? What parts have you found hard?

The GOOD

It’s very organised!!
that we get to pick what we do and when we do it. 
i like it cause u get more responsibility and more easy for me to finish my work in my way 
Having freedom of choice and being able to work at our own pace. 
We have more independence in our learning and I enjoy getting to choose the order of what work we do.
you get on much quicker and you learn self control
we have a lot more freedom and i really like this type of learning then the normal learning.
Our freedom of choice and not to much pressure to finish things immediately.
that i can do it the work in my own time and that i can chose what i do.  
I think the fact that I have a teacher to give me a demonstration or an example of the work we have to do is pretty good, and visual for me.
Its good to have lots of options on your work and not being pressured to do it in one period 
its really good because you don’t have to wait for others you can go at your own speed
Nothing
That it gives us a bit of freedom
I’m enjoying doing things in my own time, getting through things at my speed. It’s nice to have it all laid out, so I know what I’m doing each day.
I like how you can choose what you what to do. and i just like it better. 
The freedom we’re getting and how we can do what we what when we please.

The BAD

Just a little bit of stress 
i am not really keeping up with the work
nothing much 
Getting all my work done on time with all the distractions in the class.
It’s harder to stay on task
some people need to learn more self control and some times I have a lot of extra curricular subjects to work on
some times there’s some technical problems with my computer etc.Battery,bugs out,viruses.
There is not much instruction and it is hard to understand things straight.
that i always have to go on the computer and have have a look what i have to do or have to like it and i like it better when for the table thing we pick the names out of the bag better.  
I find that all the work that’s listed in the one day that we have to do is kind of hard to finish. Because it is like if we don’t finish it today we have to catch up tomorrow along with the other work.
maybe a little to much of work.
sometimes when we need help there is a line to see Mr banbury
The pressure of the work to get completed by that day or else you have to catch it up the next day
That there a too many rules which demotivates me
I’m finding it hard to find my tour of Aotearoa work, could you present our road trip work as you did in lockdown, on OneNote? Also, I’m quite keen to have some more challenging work with reading, would that be ok?
nothing 
That we have to log onto a computer every day because it takes awhile to load and that we’re not using our books as much anymore.

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