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How do you get students to become more independent?

Discussion in 'Assessment' started by connalad, Apr 12, 2011.

  1. In my school, a realisation has occurred that we have been 'spoon feeding' our students for years.This process of 'spoon feeding' has resulted in our students being completely reliant on their teacher.I have tried to encourage more independent thinking and learning with my students ,however I feel that some are totally incapable of grasping the idea.I have had comments from students such as"You are the teacher....." and students who don't try just expecting the answers.Teachers are killing themselves providing hours of extra revision that would not be necessary if the students were more independent!
    I'm sure that I am not alone with these experiences.Have you any strategies that have been effective?
  2. We have had a big push on this in our school, especially with year 7. I always hold back giving an answer if a student asks for help, which can often be hard to do when you have a full class and it is often easier to just give the answer so you can move on. I also think it is important to get the basics right. I refuse to give out pens to students now and simply tell them to sort it out for themselves. Before I started doing this out of a class of 30 I would get between 5 and 10 students asking for equipment a lesson. After sticking to this strategy for a few weeks I now find I rarely get asked for equipment. I know this is only a small step towards independence but at least it is in the right direction.
    Also, constantly remind students to ask each other for help before they ask you. Then, if they ask you for help check with the rest of their table if they have discussed the problem between themselves first. If they haven't don't give them any help. I have found this to work quite well.
    Another of my favourites when students use text books to help with answers is when they ask what page to find the information on I simply tell them to use the index/contents. It really annoys them but they need to learn!
    With all of these strategies I found that when I first started implementing them behaviour deteriorated at first. For example, when I refused to give out pens I had plenty of student sit and do no work for half a lesson (it was my fault because I did not give them a pen). However after sitting the odd detention to catch up on the work they did not do in the lesson they soon gave up on this.
  3. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    I suspect that you would need to define what it is by independent learning / learners . You want them to be reflective ,responsible, adaptable and evaluative . So yes things like ' three before me ' is a strategy but it is the school's approach and not the individuals which is going to have most impact . Challenge , high expectations through set tasks , belief in what they can achieve are also key as is allowing lessons to via off course and allowing the students exercise an element of choice ( self direction ) . From anA4L perspective peer assessment and the importance of reflecting on others achievements is useful but training in this (own marker and editor for example) is
    a whole school focus .
  4. The best thing I ever did was put a question on the board for my children as they came in in the morning saying 'who is responsible for your learning?'

    Every single pupil barring one stated I was. We then had a whole discussion on the fact that actually they were and that I could stand on my head and teach till I as blue in the face but it was there choice of what they did with what I taught them.

    It was insightful for me and actually really improved their independence in their work.
  5. Have lessons where you set a series of challenges and don't answer any questions, not even one. Pupils write their questions on the board for others to answer
  6. BlueJuno

    BlueJuno New commenter

    I've found myself very much in the same boat however we are slowly making a change for the better by encouraging the younger years to be more independent.
    I completely agree with the previous posts and, in particular, the 'three before me' concept has worked well for me in the past.
    I adapted it this year for a particularly 'needy' year seven class by providing them with AFL-type traffic light cards - when set off on task they had the opportunity to display their cards according to the level of support they felt they needed. Initially many went straight for red (which meant teacher-input was needed) but with gentle reminders about the 'three before me' concept they gradually dwindled until only those who really needed my input displayed red.
    While I feel that I'm making headway with KS3 does anyone have any advice on how to encourage independence in KS4 and KS5 in particular? I've found it a struggle this year with my As Level group because they feel that they ought to be 'spoon-fed' - they refuse to look beyond the text-book, miss lessons then expect me to give them the notes they've missed, do not take notes in class etc. etc.

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