Category Archives: self reflection

Encouraging Learner Autonomy

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One of the best things teachers can do for their students is to help them learn to help themselves.  To promote learner autonomy, we need to build students’ self-confidence and give them strategies for teaching themselves.  Some of the ways we can do this include the following.

  1. Self-reflection
    1. Provide worksheets or questionnaires asking students to consider their past learning, their current skill levels, their weak points and their strengths.
    2. Discuss different learning styles and help students determine how they learn best.
  2. Goal setting (works well in conjunction with self-reflection!)
    1. Encourage students to write down specific goals and specific tactics to achieve these goals, for example, adding 15 new words to a word bank every week, reading three articles in the newspaper every day or writing a short journal entry every night.
    2. Revisit these goals periodically throughout the term to allow students to assess their progress and adjust or add to their goals.
  3. Student-led activities
    1. Give students structured opportunities to create activities for each other. For example, they could write small quizzes or cloze activities, prepare conversation questions, or come up with educational games.
    2. Ask students, in small groups or pairs, to present information to the class. They might summarize articles, take up homework on the board, make posters, or give short presentations reviewing information studied in class.
  4. Self and peer editing
    1. Create checklists for students to follow when editing their own or others’ work (specific and well thought out checklists or worksheets are useful here – given free reign, my experience has been that students will find many mistakes that don’t exist and confuse each other).
    2. Provide the rubrics you use for assessments and encourage students to assess their own work using this, prior to your assessment.
    3. Provide an error-log for students’ use that will help them discover the patterns in their writing, such as their common grammar or structural mistakes
  5. Providing choice
    1. Give students some control over how time is used. For example, “We have a half hour at the end of the class on Friday, would you like to review this or this?”
    2. Allow students to tell you what kind of activities they prefer; for example, the class could decide through a vote whether they would like to practice a concept through a discussion or a written activity, or perhaps space for both ways of learning could be provided in the classroom and each student could choose.
    3. Provide some choice in assessment activities. This could range from a choice in topics to a choice in type of assessment.

All of these methods require thought and organizing on the part of the teacher, and, as with most everything, work best when scaffolded.  Over time and with encouragement, students could learn to be more independent and to take more ownership over the learning process, providing greater opportunity to be successful in the future.

Do you have other tactics for helping students increase their independence? What has been your experience implementing strategies like these in the classroom? Please share with us in the comments!


I (Don’t) Understand!

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Have you ever explained a task to your students, checked to make sure they understood, and then let them go to work – only to realize as they stared blankly at their work, that they actually didn’t understand?  In my first years of teaching, I was so puzzled by students telling me they understood when they clearly didn’t.  Even when I would ask directly, “Do you understand?” the answer I was given was often “Yes, teacher” before it became clear that the opposite was true.  This was frustrating!  It seemed so obvious Continue reading


Ways to Reflect on Your Teaching – A Practical Approach

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How often do you reflect on your teaching? Do you have enough time to reflect in a meaningful way? Reflective practice is an area I’m quite passionate about. However, I understand that many teachers struggle to find the time to reflect, or they may not know how to reflect in a way that enhances their teaching and benefits their learners. Making the time to reflect is key. I know first-hand the feeling of not having enough time to reflect when, for example, you have a pile of essays to mark. The second hurdle to reflection is figuring out how to reflect in a practical and purposeful way. In this post, I’d like to share some practical tools and ways to reflect Continue reading


Cans, Wants, and Wills

Concept image of a Calendar with the text: Lessons Learned

This activity is meant to be a student’s journey to self-regulation (see Schunk & Zimmerman, 1997). The activity can take place at any time during the school term and is meant to awaken in students the desire to achieve their goals one step at a time. Hence, the process to self-regulation is the goal. Continue reading