Recipe for Student-led Learning to Be Successful
It has been so long since I have written a blog post, that I am nervous to write one now that talks about our struggles. However, I am going to take the advice I give my students, and celebrate the failures along with the successes because both can help us to learn and grow. I recently reached out to fellow educational innovators for some insight on some challenges we are facing. Veritas Academy, at only 1.5 years into this journey, is still in its infancy.
Our micro-school model was designed with a balance between self-paced learning and project-based learning. These types of schools have been categorized as learner-centered, learner-driven, and/or learner-led. Our biggest struggle has been a lack of student motivation and desire for learning. My question to these great minds was, “ How do we develop a culture of self-motivated, self-directed learners. We are already set up for student voice and choice but we are struggling with many (not all) students who have yet to step out of their comfort zone and push themselves.”
From this Facebook group I got lots of great advice and book recommendations, but the most helpful tidbit was an encouraging word from the group’s founder, Bernard Bull. I was told that what we “are experiencing is the norm, almost a natural part of creating a learning community.” This is exciting because it means that there is hope that we will be able to figure out this complicated dance.
This is where we are right now: I bought a lot of books and the guides are taking turns reading them all. (I have included the list below if you want to join us in diving in.) I also wrote out a “recipe for student-led learning to be successful” using what I already knew, advice from the Facebook group, and conversations with our guides. We sat down to look at this “recipe” and decided on an area of focus based on our learner’s needs and the needs of our community of learners. This list includes words and ideas that are prevalent in discussions related to student-led learning models of education. Improving in these areas as a community and helping our learners improve in their individual skills will be what we strive for in the coming months and years. Parents, as we unfold each of these individually, I plan to share how you can partner with us and empower your child to grow in these ways.
Recipe for student-led learning to be successful
Freedom and Trust
Student Voice and Choice
Student Agency and Ownership
Executive Functioning Skills
Purpose and Meaning
Growth Mindset and a Willingness to Take Risks
Peer Feedback Routines/Rhythms
Strong Literacy Skills
Explicitly, we are working to help students self-assess their executive functioning skills and give them guidance in taking ownership in growing in those skills. Implicitly, we are planning and preparing for some changes to hopefully inspire student agency and ownership, by building community and by having students develop systems, routines, and rhythms that will help them to engage with their learning community and take charge of their learning. We know that this is not going to happen overnight. We know that we might take a step back before we are able to leap forward. We also know that in the long run, it will be worth it.
If you want to read what we are reading, pick up one of these books:
- Adventures in Self-Directed Learning: A Guide for Nurturing Learner Agency and Ownership – Bernard D. Bull
- Courage to Grow: How Acton Academy Turns Learning Upside Down – Laura Sandefer
- The Path to Purpose: How Young People Find Their Calling in Life – William Damon
- Learn Like a Pirate: Empower Your Students to Collaborate, Lead, and Succeed –Paul Solarz
- Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance – Angela Duckworth
- Empower: What Happens When Students Own Their Learning – John Spencer
- The Self-Propelled Advantage: The Parent’s Guide to Raising Independent, Motivated Kids Who Learn with Excellence – Joanne Calderwood