A couple of students in my class are struggling with the new structure we have. The increase in student agency has resulted in work not being completed and, most disappointing, poor choices being made around their own learning. You get the drift.

For me the easy option is to isolate them and tell them exactly what they should be working on, and restrict where and when they should be working. While this is the easy option in the short term, does that develop an autonomous learner? Dose this help with their student agency? I don’t think so.

Therefore, I sat both students down mid-week and had a chat. I discussed with them their learning goals from Monday and the work they needed to get completed by the end of the week. I gave them two options – continue to be in charge of their own learning or let me help them by making some decisions for them.

Pleasingly, they choose to keep in control of their learning.

This process has got me thinking…
How willing am I to let students fail in their education in the name of autonomous learning? Is that even an option?
Is failure an important part of learning?
When do I step in as a teacher and say “this isn’t working for you”?
Is autonomous learning only for students that are “good” enough to regulate their own learning?
I teach Year 7/8. How is my approach be different from a senior (Year 11, 12, 13) teacher?

Finally, here is my current thinking around this…
I am still working from a very ‘teacher is the boss’ model – which looks like this…
Here is the work that I want the students to get completed by the end of the week. Work that I think is important. I then give students autonomy over where and when they do that work.
This is better than how I used to do things but still very much teacher led.
I would like to get to the stage where I am far more responsive to my students learning needs from the outset. Wouldn’t it be good if I could develop a structure where the outcomes for EVERY student in my class were different. Why should all my students have the same task to complete by the end of the week? Students are all at different places their education – my teaching needs to change to reflect that.

Why should all my students have the same task to complete by the end of the week?